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. This resource page is divided into the following sections.

  1. Things to consider up front

  2. The different classes of scanners

  3. The basic scanning hardware features

  4. Recommended PC requirements for a scanning station

Things to Consider Up Front in document scanning

Do I have one 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 requirde 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. 

You can see if your current document scanner is supported by EMC QuickScan Pro by visiting this EMC web site - which supports the popular ISIS driver standard, which is also licensed and supported by Kodak, Kofax and other popular manufacturers of document imaging software.

The Different Classes of Scanning Hardware

There are 4 main classes of document scanners to choose from; desktop, workgroup, departmental, and production grade. These classes range based on the volume of pages they can scan, the features they have and cost.

Desktop Scanners - Approximately 10-20 pages per minute:
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, color 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. Approximate cost: $400 - $800 USD. 

Workgroup/Departmental Scanners: Approximately 15-40 pages per minute:
Workgroup and departmental scanners provide the essentials for most small workgroups 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 Workgroup 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.  Approximate cost: $700 - $2,000 USD. 

Production: Approximately 40-90+ pages per minute:
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. Approximate cost: $3,500 - $9,000+ USD.

Scanning Hardware Features Considerations

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 Feeder - learn more below

  • Color and monochrome document scanning - learn more below

  • Speed of 15 pages per minute (ppm) or more – see classes of scanners above

  • Double Feed Detection -- learn more below

Nice to Have Scanning Features

  • Single-pass duplex (two-sided) scanning - learn more below

  • Automatic detection of black or color documents

  • Barcode recognition (2D and 3D) – This feature often needs to be supported by both the document scanner hardware and the scanning software.

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.

Color and Monochrome Document Scanning - Most scanners can handle both black and color 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. There are basically 3 types of double feed detection to consider when purchasing a scanner all with varying effectiveness. 

  1. Length-based detection - provides basic detection and is common in introductory scanners for small offices or desktop requirements.
  2. Infrared based detection - is much better than length-based and are much more common in workgroup or departmental scanners
  3. Ultrasonic detection - is the best possible and is common in most production level models, infrared is better and ultrasonic is the most accurate you can get (although different techniques are required for the fastest, high-end scanners with open transports). Ultrasonic detection is now the norm for most production models, but the technology is finding its way down into the departmental range.

Recommended PC Requirements for a Scanning Station

See the System Requirements for the document management software.