Image capture cuts turnaround from six weeks to two days

Image capture cuts turnaround from six weeks to two days

Boral Quarries implemented a knowledge-based document imaging solution to achieve cost savings through reduced filing time, document retrieval time and reduction in paper document storage space.

Boral Quarries faced a major problem in its credit department, which received hundreds of signed customer delivery dockets on a daily basis from surrounding plants. Previously, these dockets were manually sorted and forwarded for microfilming.

The manual sorting was tedious work and due to the time delay for retrieving dockets, it was felt good customer service was not being provided.

With the aim of overcoming these problems, a Continuous Improvement project team was formed to review and recommend a process that would streamline the storage and retrieval of the dockets.

The Solution

The solution was to introduce a document scanning and retrieval system, integrated and installed by Melbourne-based ImageTech Corp (03 9801 0488).

The system has the capacity to scan and store up to 4000 documents daily. Dockets are scanned using a Bell+Howell 3338A and image enhanced by a Kofax Document Scan Processor.

VisionShape's knowledge-based software, AutoClass, performs automatic page recognition by matching the scanned image (Delivery Docket, Invoice, etc.) with pre-stored template knowledge. The data fields used for the document image index are automatically extracted from the page as text and output to a file.

ImageTech's document image management software, PaperGate, performs an overnight process to automatically import index data, along with the corresponding document images for storage on low cost, high-density optical disks.

PaperGate uses a graphical user interface so that both regular and occasional users can find and file information effectively. PaperGate integrates with various network operating systems.

Implementation Issues

Boral Quarries needed to address several issues to ensure the successful implementation of the system. These included:

n the level of staff experience prior to installation. Boral's staff had limited PC/ Windows experience and no experience with expert systems or document image management software;

n maximise efficiency of ICR to minimise manual input for image capture and storage;

n printer maintenance and a new docket form design was adopted resulting in forms recognition and OCR failures being almost eliminated.

The Results

The implementation issues were successfully addressed and a number of benefits have been delivered to Boral Quarries.

Operator training is simple and uncomplicated, while almost all post-installation support issues were related to problems in print quality of dockets.

ICR can achieve very high levels of success under controlled conditions.

Signed customer delivery dockets were accessible within two days of actual customer delivery taking place, compared to up to six weeks under the old system of manual sorting and microfilming.

This resulted in improved customer service through the immediate access of customer delivery dockets, while a substantial reduction in manual processing resulted in significant cost savings.

The system has provided a readily expandable platform for adding other divisions of the company at a minimal incremental cost, said Mr Quirk, as well as a reduction in the floor space requirements for storing and processing paper documents.


Although the system was originally implemented in 1993, since that time Boral has had the flexibility to accommodate growth of the application.

The scanner and workstations have been upgraded to increase the capacity of the system.

This upgrade allows larger batches of unattended scanning to occur and faster document processing. Consideration is now underway for the implementation of a network database server and optical disk jukebox.

So far approximately 800,000 documents have been stored by the system, while Boral Concrete has been added to the system and it is the intention to add other divisions in the near future.