Scanning from Paper, Microfilm/Microfiche and Wide Format Sources

By now you have probably determined the enormous benefits of incorporating a paperless office, but getting there requires evaluating the many different scanning options available. Documents are digitized from paper, wide format or microfiche/microfilm formats. So, what are the differences, pros and cons of each type of source document?

Paper document conversion and management is the most prevalent type of scanning option. While it’s the most common, doesn’t mean it’s the easiest project to handle. Issues to consider with paper stem from the document age, coloring, how it’s been stored, its bindings and fasteners and how it’s been used by the employees. Not all sheets of paper are the same style (density) and dimensions, which requires different handling and sometimes equipment. In addition, paper oftentimes arrives for processing with staples, paperclips, tape and different bindings that must be broken down before being converted.

Document imaging from microfilm or microfiche produces high quality images that are easily accessible. Many government agencies use microfilm and microfiche for data capture during report writing. The process optimizes document retrieval and enhances workplace productivity. By converting the film to digital images, these reports become easily accessible and provide an easily manageable digital archive. If not properly stored, the shelf life of film or fiche formats is short. When considering conversion to digital from film, the following issues are taken into consideration. Age of the film, type of film (microfiche, microfilm, aperture card, COM generated or jacketed film) just to name a few. How the images were originally captured to the film plays a role in terms of blip spacing, orientation of the frames, and the reduction of the lens.

Transferring wide format documents to digital images have a huge impact for certain industries. Any company that works with engineering drawings, like blueprints, in addition to photographs, maps and newspapers are just several examples to name a few. It is paramount to select a document management company that has the proper capabilities to handle such large documents. Specific scanners exist to convert from wide format, but it’s best to inquire with the company specifically about their resources. ILM has invested in high-tech equipment to serve the needs of these industries and their wide format conversions. Like paper and film conversion discussed earlier, the condition, size and features of the oversized, wide format documents will play a role in the type of equipment and handling required to generate a successful digitization.

Not discussed in this article, but is just as important, are the indexing requirements of the images that you created. How are you going to search and retrieve these documents once you have them loaded into your document management system?

Whichever format you are converting, the end result is electronic files that provide extremely fast retrieval results. The digital images are more accurate than manual searches. In addition, the files are able to be stored on servers and posted on the internet to provide extensive access to those that need to view the records.

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