By Lisa Guerriero
Wide format capture is a service needed by those with valuable documents. Architectural, geographical, and historical documents are often unwieldy or fragile, and must be captured by a dedicated scanner. Firms with professional scanning capability meet this need.
A December 2014 report by analyst firm InfoTrends observes that many enterprises converted paper-based processes to electronic, and the paper capture market is stabilized for the near term.
However, the firm predicts production scanning outsourcing will grow to a $2.4 billion market in 2018, at a compound annual growth rate of 1.7 percent over the five year period.
Outsourcing appeals to enterprises looking to reduce costs and improve business process workflows, the report asserts. In addition, regulations and compliance mandates in some vertical industries drive the increase.
Sean Eikenbery, owner, PeopleDocs, agrees that some segments of the scanning market aren’t growing, but others are thriving. His company, established in 2008, offers wide format capture as a stand-alone service and as part of its document management services.
There are profits to be earned for a firm that knows its business, observes Eikenbery. He says due to its specialized scanning experience, PeopleDocs offers a high level of expertise.
PeopleDocs, based in Leesburg, VA, offers custom scanning and document management services. It is also a Contex reseller and service facility for the SD, HD, and HD Ultra scanner lines. Scanning represents about 70 percent of the business.
Eikenbery had experience with scanning technology from his previous jobs. He opened his business because he believed he could offer insight and experience into wide format document management. The firm handles integration, development, and delivery of solutions.
An average scanning job is about 10,000 to 12,000 documents, with larger jobs running around 50,000. To ensure profit margins, Eikenbery generally accepts jobs of about 4,000 documents or more.
PeopleDocs has clients nationwide, but generates most of its business from the East coast and the Midwest. From its location in VA, the firm serves the intelligence community in Washington, D.C. It also works with clients in geographical industries as well as architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC).
The company’s goal is the same, whether it is capturing maps for a fracking corporation or historical photos for a university. To preserve the native document while ensuring the reproduction is faithful to the original.
Eikenbery and his team rely on Contex scanners to help them achieve this goal. The two companies partnered back when PeopleDocs first launched. It currently uses several scanners from the IQ Quattro series and HD Ultra series.
“They’ve been in the market the longest, they’re the best, robust scanner, and they have the best technology,” explains Eikenbery. “They’re ahead of everyone else in the market.”
The models in the IQ Quattro and HD Ultra lines offer various features, like automated rotation; a funnel feed that makes it easier to load documents with wrinkled, tattered, and curled edges; and a pressure adjustment switch for fragile, thin media.
PeopleDocs also likes how responsive and reliable Contex’s software is. “The Contex NextImage software can enhance images to make them look more vivid with better contrast and/or more legible, as well as cropping, rotation, and deskew; on the fly while scanning or anytime after,” explains Eikenbery.
Scanning technology has come a long way, says Eikenbery. Six or seven years ago, the PeopleDocs team scanned documents and delivered them in the format requested by the customer. If there was a problem with the image, they had to re-scan it. Now, they are able to capture in raw format, bring it back to the office, and reprocess the image as needed without rescanning.
The New ScanStation offers this capability, and also has a touchscreen interface. The ability to work from raw images, without rescanning, makes the workflow more convenient and productive.
“It really helped us tremendously with the throughput,” notes Eikenbery.
PeopleDocs put its resources and skills to the test for BP in October 2014. The client planned to drill in a region of Eastern OH and was in the process of negotiating leases. BP conducted a large amount of research into land records, and needed all the paperwork scanned and processed.
BP initially operated out of an office in the area. It brought in about 25 employees to work from the documents. Soon, the small office was overwhelmed by the amount of manpower and records.
“The solution was to have us come in and scan everything,” explains Eikenbery.
The job presented “a myriad of different things,” he recalls. The PeopleDocs scanned land record books, township maps from multiple eras, layouts of property boundaries, and even surveys on scraps of paper. There were also some index cards, which the firm outsourced.
With documents from varying time periods, and in various conditions, the job presented some challenges.
For some of the documents, the team used a 44-inch IQ Quattro 4490. PeopleDocs likes this model because of its ability to deliver color quality without sacrificing speed—it scans up to 14 inches per second. Color matching is especially important for certain land documents, such as color maps and aerial photography.
It used the HD 5450 ultra wide format scanner for anything that was too big or too fragile for the IQ Quattro 4490. The 54-inch device is adjustable for media of varying thickness. Eikenbery says the ability to control the pressure of the scanner makes it versatile. The Automatic Thickness Adjustment Control feature allows for scanning documents up to 0.6 inches.
Some of the documents were so fragile that PeopleDocs had to cover them with an acetate film prior to scanning. The team purchases the archival-quality film in various widths and cuts it to the size of the document. They fold over the top and put the documents inside, forming a protective slip.
BP initially thought the job would entail about 3,000 documents. Instead, it was about 12,000. Still, PeopleDocs completed the work in about a week, with a two-person team.
Specializing in Specialty Documents
Scanning plays an important role in many key industries. Large documents, as well as many historical ones, can only be captured with professional-grade technology. Wide format capture capability allows companies to work with AEC, government agencies, geographic information systems, and corporate land use. By specializing in this niche, PeopleDocs works with top players in these sectors. dps