Choosing Scanners for your Document Management System
Here are some simple pointers to help you select a scanner suitable for your document management requirements.
1. DOCUMENT VOLUME
Estimate the number of scans on a daily basis. Add generously to this (double at least) to allow for increases in volumes over time both to existing scanned documentation and potential new areas.
If you are bulk scanning documents in a few sessions at a time each month rather than evenly on a daily basis, you need to make sure to select a scanner where the specified daily volume will accommodate the bulk scanning sessions.
Manufacturers tend to estimate volumes at the very top end of the scanner’s potential, so it is often a good policy to buy a scanner that appears to be bigger and faster.
2. DOCUMENT SIZE
Scanners are available for Documents of any size, although the majority of them are A4 or A3. If your requirements are for a larger scanner or a specific one such as a cheque scanner, it is best to find a specialist supplier.
It is worth noting that if you only need to scan a small number of documents that are larger than A4, the office copier can often be used as a back-up scanner on these occasions. Reducing the document size on the copier prior to scanning is another option, both saving the extra cost of an A3 scanner.
When using a scanner it should always be possible to keep the document guides wide open and so place documents of different sizes in to the feeder for scanning.
When scanning pages of a book or any object not suitable for a document feeder, a scanner with a flatbed (similar to the top of a copier), is required.
Again, if the flatbed is to be used only occasionally, the office copier is a better option.
Many scanners have a tethered flatbed option connected to the scanner by a USB cable.
4. COLOUR OR MONO (black/white) OR MULTISTREAM
One of the commonest mistakes is to scan in colour believing there is some legal requirement involved. The majority of the time, where reading the content is the only important factor, a clean, low file size mono scan (a correctly scanned mono page should be between 20 and 30 kb) is far superior. Threshold settings allow the automatic processing of a set of documents without having to make individual adjustments.
Nearly all scanners scan both mono and colour. Some scanners will automatically scan colour pages as colour and mono as mono.
Some, generally, larger scanners offer a Multistream out put option. That is a colour image but also a mono image for OCR capture
5. AUTOMATIC DOCUMENT FEEDER (ADF)
Consider the number of documents that are to be scanned as a single batch. The manufacturers guess as to the ADF capacity is quoted in the product information for each machine. This is often highly optimistic and for flimsy 64g/m2 paper. As a general rule, be prepared to be disappointed with the practical number of sheets a document feeder can be loaded with. A kink or bend in the paper can make a big difference.
Small capacity document feeders can be practical if the application used for the scanning input has a sophisticated scanning interface. Look out for a feature sometimes known as ‘Scan More’. This facility allows you to add more pages to a document during the scan process. If a document consists of more pages than can be loaded into the document feeder or the document is made up of a mixture of flatbed (pages from a book) and ADF scans, it is very useful.
6. BUNDLED SOFTWARE
Most scanners are supplied with some software in the box meant for use with the scanner. This can vary from solutions that scan business cards, converting the data into a searchable database to full image capture with an OCR engine.
7. NETWORK SCANNING
Some scanners have network capabilities which means scans connect direct to users’ systems – without the need for a PC
Documents can be pre and / or post imprinted with a simple text message or number. It is important to clarify at what stage the imprint is applied. If you need the detail to be visible on the scanned image, then it needs to be applied pre scanning. A good Document Management application is likely to have an in-built tool to provide an imprint for free which may be sufficient. It is always worth checking this, before going to the expense of purchasing the scanner imprinter option which is a costly add-on.
9. MULTIFEED DETECTION
A scanner missing a page may be a catastrophe. If the volume of documents is too great for manual checking alone, choose a scanner with sophisticated ultrasonic multifeed detection. It is now becoming routine for even the smallest scanners to have this feature as standard.
See below some more useful scanning functionality you will find in our File Stream built in scanner interface which may not be available in the scanner’s native interface.
Unlimited profiles can be set up in advance with settings selected to suit different documents. These settings are saved for easy use by an operator. The settings may include selecting:
File name / number / date
Scanned documents can be given meaningful file names automatically, including a date and or pre-defined number sequence.
Regardless of the scanner, scanned documents can be saved as preferred image file types such as JPEG, TIF, PDF etc etc.
Auto Rotate / Auto Correct
Small A4 scanners can have their documents auto-rotated from portrait to landscape.
OCR Profiles (converting images to searchable text)
Scanned documents can have pre-defined OCR profiles matched to them so that they can be searched for later by any of their content. The OCR capture can also be set up to automatically index by areas of text such as Company, Date, Total, as might be used for indexing invoices.
Drop Blank Pages
All pages can be scanned as double sided with any pages that are blank or have a shadow being automatically removed.
Multi / single page
Some scanning devices can only scan single page documents. This is rare these days but it will be found in a few of the very small portable scanners. Document Management software enables you to choose, enhancing the usefulness of the scanner.
Automatically Separate Documents
A variety of methods to separate a stack of documents such as the morning post or the contents of a folder should be available. These separation methods may include the insertion of a blank page between documents, reading a barcode or unique recognisable text on the front page of each new document. Some even work by simply sticking a small black dot to the page which is automatically deleted from the scan image.
Document feed from the scanner
To save time and effort, a scanner can be fed with a stack of documents and then have the documents drawn off as required, e.g. the first two pages followed by the next one and so on.
A scan counter will calculate the number of pages scanned to the application. This double check of the scanner’s performance ensures accuracy.
Choosing the right scanner for the job is very important but learning how to use it correctly and getting the most from it is even more vital. Please call us on 0118 989 3771 for assistance.
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