Document Scanning Hardware Resources

This document imaging and document scanning resource section is provided for those looking to compliment a scanning software solution by purchasing scanning hardware.

Things to consider for document scanning

Do I have a suitable scanner already? Some organizations have already made investments into highly capable multi-function centers that can provide both photocopying and document scanning directly to a full text searchable PDF document. Existing photocopiers may provide the functionality required from a capture perspective. It is good to examine the current infrastructure to see if you have existing methods of scanning documents.

What should I pay? Some organizations start out by thinking small and purchase a basic device only to have to purchase a faster and more capable scanner at a later date. We recommend that you anticipate strong future growth in imaging paper documents and get something more capable from the beginning. The difference between a $500, $1500 or $3000 scanner is very noticeable and your employee / labor productivity should be the basis of your decision making and purchase. You can also factor in the savings in not having to physical store large rooms of paper as well.

The different classes of scanning hardware

There are four main classes of document scanners to choose from; desktop, work group, departmental, and production grade. These classes range based on the volume of pages they can scan, the features they have and cost.

Desktop scanners

An entry level class of document scanners that satisfies low volume scanning requirements and is generally rated for several hundred pages per day. These scanners provide duplex, colour and mono scanning at speeds ranging from 15-35 pages per minute. through the automatic that want decentralized scanning to occur at the desktop level.

Work group or departmental scanners

Work group and departmental scanners provide the essentials for most small work groups who are requiring a more robust scanner that can withstand constant use and provide consistent results on sustained volumes of documents of up to 1000 or more documents per day. There is some blurring of the boundaries between work group and departmental grade scanners, and this document has combined them since the majority of organizations will probably be looking at something in the 25-45 page per minute category, and will want to consider these types of scanners carefully.


These scanners can range from $3000 to $100,000 or more. Many scanning bureaus and service companies use these types of scanners, as well as high volume environments like hospitals, major corporations, large legal firms, large government offices, medical laboratories, and other high volume, paper intensive environments.

Scanning hardware features consideration

The following are basic features to consider when purchasing scanning hardware. This is not an exhaustive list but is provided to give guidance of features to look out for that can have the highest impact on scanning productivity. It is recommended to try out a few scanners with samples of different types of documents and paper; most scanner resellers are more than happy to help you make an informed decision with loaner models and in-depth demonstrations.

Essential scanning features

  • Automatic Document Feeders (ADF) - When shopping for a document scanner, it's a good idea to make sure that the device you purchase has the kind of feeder capacity you need. This is essential when scanning documents in batches where the larger the stack of paper that the ADF can handle the less it needs to be tended to. Most scanners provide automatic sheet feeders that can hold at least 50 sheets.
  • Colour and monochrome document scanning - Most scanners can handle both black and colour scanning; however, it pays to make sure before you buy, especially if you plan to scan illustrated documents.
  • Single pass duplex scanning - If most of your documents have printing on both sides, duplex (two-sided) document scanning can be a source of major time savings. Look for single-pass duplex scanning - this means that the document is scanned on both sides simultaneously, rather than having to be scanned twice (once on each side). This can be an invaluable time saver when handling larger volumes (or a backlog) of documents.
  • Double feed detection - A double-feed detector senses the gap between two overlapping pages and stops the scanner when two or more pages are fed at the same time. Special mention of this scanning feature is being made as this is a fundamental component of the scanning hardware.

Nice to have scanning features

  • Single-pass duplex (two-sided) scanning - learn more below
  • Automatic detection of black or colour documents
  • Barcode recognition (2D and 3D) – This feature often needs to be supported by both the document scanner hardware and the scanning software.

Recommended requirements for a scanning station

See the System Requirements for the document management software.