Three ways to improve your document digitisation and scanning operation

Document digitisation doesn’t need to be a time-consuming and tedious task, says Scott Maurer, President OPEX International. Next generation solutions from OPEX are creating new opportunities for businesses to achieve more in less time.

When was the last time you examined your scanning operations? There are three key areas you should review to maximise your output – workflow, labour needs and efficiency.

Let’s first look at common scanning workflow. Proper preparation of documents and financial records, to facilitate quick and accurate scanning and recording into electronic document image, cannot be overemphasised. This time-consuming and monotonous prepping process has been widely accepted in the banking, mortgage and insurance industries as a necessary cost of doing business.

Paper documents from mortgage, insurance or legal files are quite diverse in size, format and condition, inhibiting scanning throughput. The considerable volume of variable-sized and multi-formatted items that require manual preparation prior to scanning presents a time-consuming and tedious activity for document processors.

Examples include letter and legal sized documents paper clipped and stapled, envelopes of varying sizes, business cards, post-it notes, torn and tattered sheets, carbon copies and carbonless NCR forms, historic documents printed on onion skin-type paper and critical original documents like cheques, deeds, titles and surveys – many of which have been tri-folded to be sent via mail.

These odd-sized, unusual-formatted, and critical documents cannot automatically be passed through a scanner without significant manual pre-scanning document prep.

Prep Needn’t Be Tedious or Labour-Intensive

When carried out manually, the document-prep process can be a tedious and time-consuming task: removing staples and paperclips, taping torn documents, photocopying delicate and important papers, securing small or odd-shaped notes and papers onto larger sheets for photocopying, opening envelopes, unfolding, and removing creases from pages to ensure documents are presented correctly to be fed through a scanner.

This process requires an enormous amount of labour. If you are lucky enough to find quality employees, there is the ever-increasing expense of entry-level employees and retention strategies to ensure you have enough employees on hand to manage workflow and increase output. However, many operations teams report that prepping teams cannot keep up with the speeds of the scanner, resulting in a valuable piece of equipment sitting idle for most of the day.

Many companies assess the performance of document scanning equipment based on the number of documents that can be scanned per hour (DPH) as the primary criterion. A system capable of scanning 6,000 DPH (100 documents per minute) is generally considered to be acceptable for high-speed document scanning purposes, and 12,000 DPH (200 documents per minute) would be considered an exceptionally high-speed system.

It would appear that with a faster scanner, a higher volume throughput of documents could be processed. This would hold true in industries with normalised document sizes and formats. But considering the diversity of documents within a typical mortgage, insurance, medical or legal file, this is clearly not the case. Throughput efficiency is dictated by the amount of manual prep work your employees invest to clean up the media so it can be scanned.

Next Generation Solutions for Improved Efficiency

Businesses and business process outsourcers are continually looking for faster and more cost-efficient ways to convert paper documents to digitised files. The most efficient high-speed document scanning systems have successfully squeezed every second out of the scanning cycle itself to arrive at exceptionally high-speed document scanning. But when the scanner must stop and wait for the document prep to catch up, it becomes a stop-and-go process.

The high-speed scanning throughput of prepped normalised documents might be at a fast rate of 200 pages per minute. But whenever the canner is stopped and waiting for more doc-prep to be completed, its throughput of pages is essentially zero. The start-and-stop sequence occurs repeatedly in the scanning of mortgage, financial, insurance, medical and legal documents.

Although automated options do exist to reduce the high labour expense and excessive time associated with the document scanning process, there has not been a one-source solution for efficiently handling both clean documents at high speeds and messy documents requiring prep work.

In the processing of documents, the throughput capability of a scanner should not be focussed solely on how fast a scanner can scan pages, but rather on the scanning speed combined with the scanner downtime while waiting for the documents to be prepped.

A very fast mortgage or insurance document prepper can handle 750 to 1,000 documents per hour, but this is no match for high-speed scanners operating at 6,000 to 12,000 DPH. For most scanning work a prepper generally handles less than 500 documents per hour.

Therefore, a more accurate estimate of scanning throughput would need to also include the prep time involved with preparing the documents for scanning. Only in this way can companies realistically asses the true performance of their document scanning operation.

The latest evolution in systems providing integration of document prep and scanning represent a significant game changer for document processors. Such a system has been introduced by us at OPEX Corporation, a manufacturer of high-speed automated sortation and scanning systems for mail and document handling.

Our recently released OPEX Gemini scanner not only streamlines prepping the widest range of document types, sizes and conditions, but also provides a level of system speed flexibility beyond any prior system’s capability. This latest revolutionary OPEX Gemini scanner has, indeed, ushered in a new paradigm in document scanning technology.

Improved Workflow at the Touch of a Button

Documents bypass traditional prep stations, and go directly to the scanner, where the operator preforms minimal prep using OPEX Gemini’s CertainScan software for image clean-up, recognition/indexing, and quality control. Where a conventional document and prepping cycle might take 4 hours, for example, now document prepping plus scanning can be accomplished in 2½ hours, realising a 300-400 percent increase in productivity.

The OPEX Gemini scanner can handle both clean documents at high speeds, as well as messy documents at slower but optimised throughput speeds. The scanner seamlessly transitions its speed to handle workloads with different document types, adjusting to the right speed for scanning at maximum throughput. For example, operators can run clean stacks at high-speed rates up to 240 pages per minute (60 inches per second), or difficult to prep, damaged or delicate documents at lower speeds.

A dual-feeder capability permits operators to continuously stack-feed documents at high speeds up to three stacks deep, while drop-feeding messy single sheets without the need to stop.

OPEX provides Next Generation Automation, including warehouse, document and mail automation solutions to customers around the globe. With headquarters in America, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, OPEX has more than 1,600 employees committed to reimagining and delivering innovative, scalable, unique technology solutions to solve the business challenges of today.

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OPEX Gemini Online Video Demo

Watch a detailed video demonstration of the OPEX Gemini Scanner HERE. OPEX Business Development Manager Craig Hartley outlines how “Right Speed Scanning” enables operators to continuously stack feed documents at high speeds but also provides them with the ability to drop in single sheets, only needing a brief

pause to switch scanning speed. See how Gemini scanners handle a wide range of document types, sizes, and conditions – including small, fragile, and damaged documents – within the one scanner. Craig shows how each Gemini scanner only requires one operator to perform minimal prep and scan documents.

View Online Demo