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How to Choose a Scanner (Part 2)

How To Choose A Scanner (Part 2)
How To Choose A Scanner (Part 2)

Read How To Choose A Scanner (Part 1) -

In part one that we published last week, we covered the speed component of choosing a scanner. Below we cover the other factors that come into play in choosing the right scanner for the job you are trying to accomplish.

1. Duty Cycle: The next factor is the “duty cycle” of the scanner. This rating is given for how many pages per day (ppd) a scanner can reliably scan without early breakdowns. Many of the lower-end scanners (speeds usually less than 50 to 60 ppm) are rated at around 5000 pages per day. So even though as far as speed goes in the example above a 30 ppm scanner would do, you will probably need to get one based on the duty cycle listed. And I would not get one that “just” meets the 10,000 ppd but get one that is at least 20% above that threshold. That gives you some leeway in doing more if necessary.

2. Paper Capability: This is about how many pages of paper your feeder can handle which can relate to the speed of conversion. The more times you must feed the tray, the more it affects that factor of 70% in the speed calculation above. Scanners will have anywhere from 20 pages to 1000 pages or more in the feed tray. But the bigger the tray usually the more expensive it is. So maybe you buy a slightly higher-speed scanner with a smaller tray so you can still get the job done.

3. Paper Sizes: Take a good look at the documents you are going to be scanning. Is it all 8.5x11”, or do you have some that is larger like legal-size, or 11 x17” (which is two 8.5x11 pages put together and is used in brochures)? Or it could even be very small items like business cards. Depending on how many of these odd-sized documents you have will determine the next step. If it is the very small items most scanners will handle small items such as business cards, but just check the specifications to make sure it handles your size.

For the other items look for a scanner that can handle documents 11” wide. This will have two advantages:

a. It will let you scan the 11x17” documents by placing them short side down.

b. And two it will let you scan the 8.5x11” letter size documents on the 11” side also. This actually increases the speed your scanner processes the documents because now the pages are passing thru in 8.5” instead of 11” which means the time it takes to scan each page is less. If you have a very large number of pages to scan each day this can be a good tactic to use just to process more pages per day.

4. Output formats: This one is pretty simple. Just check the datasheet on the scanner and make sure it provides the outputs you need. The most common are TIFF, PDF, and JPEG. There are a few others, but these will usually do it.

5. Volume of Paper to be scanned and time frame to be done: This was addressed some in the speed item but is one of the items to be decided which will determine the speed of the scanners, the number of scanners, and the people required. Here we are talking about the paper. Taking some of the calculations from item 1 will help in this. But the decision is, are you scanning 100 pages a day or 100,000 a day like a tax office or a payment processing company. Also is the daily volume small as in 100 or 1000 pages per day currently but you have a warehouse full of older documents that must be converted to recover the space and decrease the cost. In this case of the warehouse, part of the decision is do we buy a big expensive scanner so we can convert it quickly or, do we purchase several smaller scanners so when it is done, they can be distributed to other requirements for day-to-day scanning.

6. Number of People dedicated to scanning: A lot of the above has been about the physical scanner itself and speed, etc. A 60-ppm scanner will scan 3600 pages an hour, and 28,800 pages in 8 hours (typically above its duty cycle). But it is very difficult for one person to prep and scan that many pages an hour (impossible). So, if you are wanting to scan 2,000 to 3,000 or 10,000 or more an hour, you need to have staff to do that. If it is boxes or drawers of files to be scanned it takes one (1) person about 1.5 to 2 hours to prepare that “full” box for scanning. This is taking paper out of the folders, taking out staples, unfolding folded paper, taking off sticky notes (and taping to another piece of paper if they are important), putting a document separator bar code page on top of that folders pages and then putting it in the stack to be scanned. If you are breaking each document in a folder up into individual document types (Resume, application, reviews, etc. for HR files) then there is a document separator for each file type. So one person to prepare 2000 to 3000 pages in a box for scanning. So with our 60 ppm scanner you will need two people to prep and one person to scan. If you have a faster scanner, you will need more prep people to keep it busy. And if you are not going to keep it busy, buy a slower less expensive scanner.

7. Scanning software: Another component in choosing a scanner is the software you will be using with it. If you have software that just runs the scanner to let you scan an image and save it, you are not going to get very much done in a production environment. Find a software package like Kofax, ABBYY, PSIGEN, or others that allow you to do “batch” scanning, collect the properties you want about the document to be sent to an application, or used as indexes in a document management system, and has the integrations to directly export the documents to those applications or the document management system or both. And some software as the ones I listed will offer other features such as AP Invoice processing to automate business functions.

As you have read above, and in Part 1, there are quite a few factors in choosing the right scanner. Put them all together and choose the right scanner for you and your process. But if you would like help in choosing that scanner or a correct document management system, or getting the most out of your existing environment, give me a call from the number below, or click the button below and schedule a call at a time good for you.



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