I was asked the other day by someone if I thought they should buy a large format scanner to scan construction drawings. They are increasingly receiving digital files but still have lots of paper documents flowing through the office. The scanner and printer combination they were looking at was many thousands of dollars. My very helpful answer was “maybe”.
When we first started this business in 2000 virtually every page of drawings and specifications uploaded to our system was scanned. At that time design consultants and owners were still wary of sharing digital files and scanning was the only way to get the information digitized. There has been a radical shift in the last few years and the concern over distributing digital files has been far outweighed by the efficiencies and cost savings that the consultants and their clients achieve. Happily that means less scanning. Today, 85% - 90% of the documents uploaded to our system are received in digital format.
For others who are considering this question there are several considerations.
- When you receive paper sets of documents are your personnel requesting digital files? Almost every document today is created digitally.
- Do you need the convenience of having the files immediately scanned in your office or can you efficiently outsource it to a local reprographer or scanning service?
- Do you want your personnel spending the time it takes to learn and then operate the scanner?
- Are you prepared for the maintenance bills? We recently replaced the glass on one of our machines. It is $700 just for the glass.
Ultimately the person I spoke to decided that the convenience of having immediate access to both printing and scanning was worth the investment. In a few years this may well be a moot point as more and more information is being exchanged digitally. In the mean time it may well be worthwhile to consider having conversion technology in your own office.