How Scanners Work

Let’s review what we scan and why…

• Accounting and Finance: Invoices, Expenses, Reports, Tax Returns, Client transactions
• Human Resources: Personnel Files, Reports.
• Medical and Insurance: Medical and Dental Records, Claims and Quotes
• Real Estate: Property Deeds, Building Plans, Sale Documentation
• Petrochemical: Oil & Gas Exploration Documents, Maps, Seismic Surveys.
• Airlines/Transportation: Flight Logs, Passenger Manifests, Crew Reports, Delivery Details
• Food Manufacturing: Daily Logs, Certificate Data, Delivery Notes.
• Office Documents: Any and All types of general office documents, files and folders.

Save Money, Time and Space – Document scanning eliminates the need to maintain paper based filing systems. This reduces the costs associated with filing, archiving and long term storage of paper records. Documents can be accessed in seconds. CD’s can hold up to 20,000 scanned pages, which is the equivalent to two file cabinets.

Security and Disaster Recovery – Paper filing systems are susceptible to be misplaced, stolen or lost. Documents that have been scanned are easily backed up and protected on network servers or by electronic storage.

Productivity Gains – With an average of twenty percent of your day spent on searching for information; by using document management software, users can access decision making information in seconds, saving time and improving productivity. Scanning systems have the capability to integrate with other business applications allowing even faster access with the ability to share information in real-time.

Customer Satisfaction – Response times are reduced, information is available in seconds from a computer, remote locations and global business offices are connected and able to respond to customer needs faster and more efficiently.

Regulatory Compliance – Regulatory guidelines such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA have pushed companies to document scanning because the technology does not allow information to be lost or stolen, scanned documents cannot be edited and document management software systems offer additional securities and controls that paper record keeping cannot provide.
How scanners work
• For flatbed scanners, the document is placed on the glass plate and the cover is closed. The inside of the cover in most scanners is flat white, although a few are black. The cover provides a uniform background that the scanner software can use as a reference point for determining the size of the document being scanned. On larger, commercial scanners, these have automatic document feeders (ADF’s). A lamp is then used to illuminate the document. The lamp in newer scanners is either a cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) or a xenon lamp, while older scanners may have a standard fluorescent lamp.
• The entire mechanism (mirrors, lens, filter and CCD array) make up the scan head. The scan head is moved slowly across the document by a belt that is attached to a stepper motor. The scan head is attached to a stabilizer bar to ensure that there is no wobble or deviation in the pass. Pass means that the scan head has completed a single complete scan of the document.
• The image of the document is reflected by an angled mirror to another mirror. In some scanners, there are only two mirrors while others use a three mirror approach. Each mirror is slightly curved to focus the image it reflects onto a smaller surface. The last mirror reflects the image onto a lens. The lens focuses the image through a filter on the CCD array.

blueprint of scanner

The filter and lens arrangement vary based on the scanner. Some scanners use a three pass scanning method. Each pass uses a different color filter (red, green or blue) between the lens and CCD array. After the three passes are completed, the scanner software assembles the three filtered images into a single full-color image.

Scanners vary in resolution and sharpness. Most flatbed scanners have a resolution of at least 300×300 dots per inch (dpi). Sharpness depends mainly on the quality of the optics used to make the lens and the brightness of the light sources. A bright xenon lamp and a high quality lens will create a much clearer and sharper image. Besides increased clarity and sharpness, file sizes for saving the documents will increase as well.

Most scanners come equipped with software in order to transfer the scanned image onto the computer. Typically a scanning utility and some kind of image editing application are included when you purchase a scanner.

The types of documents that require scanning will help you in choosing which scanner is right for you. Scanning general office papers or an assortment of the documents listed above will probably warrant a standard document scanner with a good quality resolution. However, items such as photos or artwork will require a different type of scanner with a much higher quality output of sharpness and resolution.

Now that all your documents have been scanned, sit back and relax knowing you have an image of all your vital and pertinent documents. You’ve saved yourself time, money and frustration. You have room on your desk for your office’s bowling trophies and you aren’t surrounded by a circle of towering, metal filing cabinets.

Finally, what do you do with all the documents that are now digitally imaged?

That’s a great question! Check back next week when we will cover – SHREDDING!!