By Cassandra Balentine
Part 2 of 2
Many organizations within the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries rely on oversized paperwork to ensure proper planning and execution on projects. It is increasingly important that professionals in these areas have access to digital as well as printed plans and blueprints. Therefore, both scanning and printing functions are essential to these firms.
Specific features and functions sought out by the AEC market include security, speed, versatility, and everything in between.
Gregg Kockler, DesignJet product manager, Americas, HP Inc., says its customers are focused on equipment that gives them a competitive edge. Aside from cutting-edge security including device, data, document security; fleet management options like cost reporting, access control, printer/scanner status; usage; and high-quality print capabilities, it’s seeing new and renewed focus on innovative workflow solutions. “This means devices that can deliver on the need for enhanced collaboration and communication in a hybrid working world, reducing the risk of errors and making it more intuitive to deliver any matter of print job.”
Delivering on sustainability is also top of the agenda for 2023 and will be a competitive differentiator. “Rising consumer demand for more eco-friendly products is pushing the industry to reduce energy consumption and improve circularity. This includes designing more efficient printers, manufacturing devices, and cartridges with recycled or reusable materials; cutting down on packaging; and offering customers efficient options to recycle old printers and used cartridges,” shares Kockler.
Eddie Anderson, pre-sales technical consultant, DesignJet, HP, adds ease of use and hardware durability to this list of desired features for today’s AEC-focused hardware.
Sigrid Raahauge, marketing team leader, Contex, sees productivity and flexibility at the top of in-demand features of today’s scanning solutions for AEC. This is due to the fact that people are looking for a scanner that can conform to specialized workflows. “It really comes down to how many finished and stored scans can be produced in an hour.”
Jacob Hardin, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc., agrees, adding that technical document users today require robust technology to keep up with workflow and stay competitive.
Part of this makes way for better collaboration with teams. “Today, it’s common for employees to be working from multiple locations—from the office, the home, the road, or job site —and therefore working off multiple devices, increasing the need to print from those various devices including tablets, smart phones, shared folders, and USB thumb drives. With advanced and versatile connectivity options, professionals can leverage these printers to provide revised documents, emails from off-site members, scan and save projects etc., to allow for easy collaborations with team members working virtually anywhere,” comments Hardin.
Further, Raahauge sees the need for dedicated scanning software, which provides options to fit specific customer needs. “Good scanning software creates a workflow that makes using the scanner easier, faster, and most importantly, provides you with an image that is equal to and often better than the original.”
Maximum image quality is another area of interest. “The user must trust that the output matches or even exceeds the input in terms of quality,” says Raahauge.
The footprint of a device is important as well. Hardin says users are looking for devices that take up minimal space, while still providing an advanced feature set for increased productivity. “This is especially important for those working in space-constrained offices and production environments. While some might be accustomed to large and bulky office plotters, modern printers have become more compact and versatile for a variety of office spaces, making it easier to businesses to offer in-house printing and scanning.”
Finally, versatility is attractive. “Users are looking to do more with their printers, in addition to printing technical documents, these printers can also be used for color graphics and signage. Advanced printers today have become much more efficient and robust, easily integrating into an existing fleet while enhancing workflow and delivering quality output,” shares Hardin.
One way to achieve both scan and print functions is through an integrated device.
Hardin believes that one of the biggest advantages to an integrated solution is the seamless and nearly real-time collaboration, planning, and execution. Integrated scanning/printing makes it easy for businesses to scan up-to-date notes, revisions, plans, and approvals to email and network folders so all team members—whether on-site in the field, trailer, or in the office—are up to date. Effective collaboration across multiple teams and stakeholders also helps improve productivity and has the capability to increase return on investment.
Ease of use is another advantage of integrated solutions, as customers can print, scan, and copy all from one device. “Integrated scanning and printing systems have a more compact footprint as a result of the combined applications, saving users space,” says Kockler.
HP DesignJet’s integrated multifunction printer portfolio offers a touchscreen interface to ensure efficient workflow management. “The touchscreen combined with simple connectivity and document sharing options, such as via mobile printing, shared folders, and cloud integration, enables customers to digitize their projects and field annotations, as well as archive materials—a fantastic bundle of functionality when it comes to improving workflow and saving time,” he adds.
Finally, Kockler says integrated scanning and printing also means user access is easier to manage, allowing an IT administrator to centrally control user print and scanning access.
Anderson points to the compact footprint and one power and network line as other advantages.
Raahauge sees speed a disadvantage to integrated solutions. “If speed is not needed, you can choose an multifunction product, and for best results we recommend adding a scanner to a printer instead of buying a printer with an integrated scanner. A multifunction solution with a separate scanner will always give you better quality scans.”
Standalone Scanning and Printing
Stand-alone scanning solutions also exist and come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Raahauge recommends standalone scanners for those that need faster speed. “Standalone scanners are good for maximum productivity. They are also ergonomically positioned at a lower level to support easy document loading and ease of use for the operator.”
“Standalone scanners provide users with a greater degree of scanning capabilities. For instance, standalone scanners maintain production level scanning speeds for both color and B&W. In addition, advanced user productivity tools such as unlimited presets, file compression options, multi-page PDFs, and collating functionality are typically standard,” offers Kockler.
Standalone solutions also tend to offer lower acquisition costs and are a good option if you already have a wide format printer, says Anderson.
Hardin adds that standalone scanners and printers can be moved around the office to places where scanning may be needed, but not printing, and vice versa. “Standalone scanners are great for archiving-only operations without having to invest in printing capabilities that won’t be used.”
Finding the Right Fit
The AEC industry has many options when it comes to scanning and printing its essential documents. Depending on a specific organization’s goals, the priorities of hardware and workflow will differ.
Feb2023, DPS Magazine