Advance tackles Government Archives with OPEX and AI

A major project to digitise a massive archive of HR records for a large Victorian government customer has exploited the AI and next-generation OPEX scanning capabilities at imaging bureau Advance Record Management, headquartered in Geelong.

The agency was facing the challenge of dealing with years of paper-based records relating to current and former employees. While implementing a modern digital HR application can prevent this issue moving forward, it doesn’t solve the problem of historical archives containing payroll records such as leave forms, employment contracts, assessments and related correspondence.

That typically means paper records sitting in a manila folder in a compactus somewhere or inside an archive box in a warehouse.

Advance, one of Australia’s biggest OPEX customers with 7 of the US manufacturer’s state-of-the-art scanning systems included in its fleet of offerings, employed three Falcon Scan Stations running full time for 6 months to capture the entire archive.

Once captured, the data was then intelligently analysed and classified utilising TCG DocProStar, Swiss developed software that uses a powerful combination of algorithms and technologies to automate the information extraction procedure.

Advance founder Peter Newland cites the efficient “one-touch” OPEX scanning workflow and autoclassification capabilities of DocProStar as the main factors behind bureau’s successful completion of such a major government back-scanning project.

“The OPEX scanners are designed to improve throughput while significantly reducing or eliminating labour-intensive document preparation,” said Newland.

As documents are scanned on the OPEX scanners, operators can view these digital images in realtime to ensure proper capture and identification. This reduces time-consuming and costly rescans later in the process.

OPEX document scanners are able to scan a wide range of irregular, folded, and damaged media without the need for careful stacking, jogging, or document repair. 

“Other machines on market will take more pages through but you need more support staff to feed them. Having a single person in charge all the way through means better auditing and quality control so easier rectification. With one person responsible for preparation, scanning and correcting exceptions, you don’t end up with the blame game when there are issues.

“This means the end customer can has a higher degree of confidence in the whole process as there are not so many touch points,” said Newland.

The TCG DocProStar software platform was also integral to the project.

DocProStar captures and normalises all document and data types, understands what information to extract and then acts, using AI and RPA to provide straight-through processing.

After encountering the Swiss developers of the software at a European conference, Newland deployed the platform at Advance in 2019. The software is hosted on local servers to satisfy Australian government requirements for data security.

“This is very powerful and complex software that can identify and classify a wide range of documents, from invoices to any type of form, contract or correspondence,” said Newland.

 “Large organisations no longer have the appetite to send large projects offshore for rekeying.

“DocProStar allows us to use AI and Machine Learning to simply the extraction of data from unstructured documents. It does this very accurately and very quickly while eliminating human error.”

The AI smarts were critical in a lengthy backscanning project as documents change and evolve over time. Being able to identify a scanned payslip or a leave form, even though the information is presented differently as formats change over 10 or 20 years, was a critical advantage provided by DocsStarPro.

Advance also provided a searchable platform for the agency to host all the scanned and classified data.

Peter Newland established Advanced Record Management in rented quarters in North Geelong, in 1994. The firm now has 9,000 square metres under storage, more than one million boxes and 30 employees. 

It provides document management solutions to a wide range of customers across Australia, including off-site storage, document imaging, and online content management. 

The company also offers data protection services such as tape vaulting and online back-up capabilities.

“Converting hard copy to electronic is a critical element in Digital Transformation. It’s much more in tune with the way people want to work today said Newland.

Byron Knowles (l), OPEX Manager of Business Development APAC and Peter Newland, Owner, Advance Record Management.