Difficult Documents, Simple Solution

Difficult Documents, Simple Solution

Chicago Records Management increased its digital document scanning productivity by three to five times for one of their key customers. Now they process documents more quickly with fewer resources using OPEX’s Universal Document Scanning Workstation, Falcon®.

Rapid growth can be a boon for a small company, but it also brings many challenges along with it. With growth comes an increase in volume and demand, and to meet that demand, companies often have to invest in labor, technology, or both. 

That certainly was the case at Chicago Records Management, Inc. (CRM). CRM provides document management solutions to a wide range of customers. These solutions include off-site storage, document imaging, and online content management. The company also offers data protection services such as tape vaulting and online back-up capabilities.

CRM provides services to a number of growing businesses across a variety of vertical markets, but one marketing customer, in particular, was expanding rapidly. The client's document imaging needs were also growing quickly, so they asked CRM if they could increase the speed and volume of the scanning operation to keep pace with their digital document requirements. This presented a challenge as the materials involved were difficult to scan and required a significant amount of manual handling.

The requirements for this marketing client include capturing every side of every sheet of paper in the exact order that end users would read the documents. These materials include books, envelopes, paper, trifold brochures, as well as other documents. “What made this challenging was that for 90 percent of what we scanned, we could only use a flatbed scanner. Those items just couldn’t go through a document feeder,” says Bob Maiers, vice president at CRM.

While CRM’s flatbed imaging solution for this customer was running smoothly, the process was inefficient. The amount of manual document adjustments that had to be made during the imaging process was both tedious and time-consuming. This rapidly expanding customer needed CRM to triple its output to keep up with demand, and to do so in a cost-effective manner.  “We had to be able to ramp up production without adding personnel and increasing our costs,” Maiers says.

Higher Volume, More Labor?

The company previously used flatbed scanners with ADF capabilities to manage the customer’s documents. To meet the demand for higher throughput, Maiers says the company would have needed to increase headcount and buy additional flatbed scanners, or invest in technology to accelerate the scanning process.

CRM began investigating alternative technologies. Maiers had seen a demonstration of OPEX Corporation’s Falcon document scanning workstation at a trade show and thought it might meet their requirements. “I’d never seen a solution like that before that could scan all the contents of an envelope,” Maiers says. “It looked like a good fit for our operation, but at that time we really weren’t processing large enough projects to justify the cost of the machine.”

All that changed once CRM’s mixed-media scanning needs expanded as a result of its marketing customer’s increase in volume.

“I needed scanners that could handle mixed-media well,” Maiers says. “For this particular client, no two single sheets of paper are identical for the majority of what we scan.” CRM also needed to capture these items in full color.

CRM brought OPEX in to discuss the customer’s needs. “The project involved scanning a variety of sizes and thicknesses, so much so that we felt it would be important to test and validate that Falcon could handle the job,” says Greg Bank, Senior Account Executive at OPEX.

On-Site Demo Proves Productivity Increase

OPEX brought a Falcon scanner to the CRM facility and ran the customer’s documents through the scanner on-site. “That test in their facility was the validation we needed to ensure this would be a good platform for their application,” Bank says.

“If it weren’t for the extended on-site demo, and having OPEX put all that time into building the sample jobs and workflow, there is no way I would have considered buying one of these machines,” Maiers says. “For a company our size, a significant investment like this would be too much of a gamble without being able to see how it handled our actual workflow.

“At the end of the demo, the staff here who would be working with the machine came to me and said, ‘This is awesome,’” Maiers adds. “The numbers we got back on the demo showed we could operate two to three times faster.” 

Falcon made it much simpler to scan the materials and required less work. “The way that Falcon is designed, it eliminated just about 98 percent of the flatbed scanning we had to do,” Maiers says.

Minimize Labor, Maximize Quality

Falcon is a one-touch document scanning workstation that allows operators to scan a broad range of document sizes and formats with minimal labor, which makes it easy for employees at CRM to prepare the marketing documents for imaging. Once Falcon has ingested these documents, the batches of scanned images are converted to PDF files using OPEX Transform™. The PDF files are then forwarded to the customer’s proprietary document management solution.

“The client is really focused on image quality and wants their scanned documents in a particular order based on how the mail pieces are typically opened and read,” Maiers says. “What Falcon allows us to do to scan the first page then, in rapid succession, manipulate and rotate each subsequent piece so it can be imaged in the manner that it was meant to be read.”

Each page is evaluated for image quality, correct order, and orientation as the documents are processed. According to Maiers, the company is scanning roughly 2,500 envelopes/pieces per day for the client.

Using OPEX Falcon, CRM was able to meet its customer’s high-volume imaging needs without adding personnel or increasing costs. Because employees don’t have to manipulate the mail pieces before scanning, Maiers says the company is doing three to five times the volume of work per day with less labor.  “The Falcon’s ability to handle mixed media in an incredibly efficient manner is what makes these machines as valuable to me as they have become. It literally scans whatever we throw at it,” says Maiers.

The new Falcon units are more productive than the previous hardware, and Maiers says he can get the same throughput from the system with two employees that he was previously able to achieve with four to six employees using the old solution.

Because Falcon performed so well, Maiers said that CRM decided to invest in a second Falcon machine without hesitation. Now, both devices are used exclusively for the marketing customer.

Quick, Responsive Service

When it comes to service - if there is ever an issue with the Falcons - Maiers says an OPEX technician is at his door quickly to resolve the problem well within the contracted response time for a service call. “I’ve never had to wait long at all for service,” Maiers says. “Sometimes the technician gets here before I do.”

As for the ongoing sales and product support, Maiers says that OPEX “takes the time to learn both my needs and the needs of my customers and proactively work through any issues we have,” Maiers says.

Success breeds success.  Falcon has helped keep CRM’s customer happy, which has led to additional business. “The customer loves this so much that they’ve given us other pieces of their business to manage that aren’t even related to scanning,” Maiers says. “The Falcon solution has very much strengthened our relationship with this customer.”

Created in partnership with ECM Connection