Construction Information Technology Blog

To scan or not to scan

Posted by Dave Robertson on Jun 8, 2010 11:00:00 PM

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.

large scannerFor 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.

Topics: Construction documents, Electronic document management, Saving money, Reprographers

Reprographers and Buggy Whips

Posted by Dave Robertson on Oct 1, 2009 4:40:00 PM

printing managementDigital files are driving many changes in the way the business of construction is done. Consider what has happened to the traditional reprographic printing business. Not long ago the only practical way to distribute a set of drawings and specifications was to print it and ship it to someone. The advent of online planrooms, ftp, copying to CD's or DVD's and managed file transfer services have made moving electronic copies of the files easy to distribute. Instead of receiving one order for a large number of sets to be printed the reprographer is now faced with responding to multiple individual requests to print the same documents from different parties who they may do business with. The printing is becoming much more distributed. It is even further impacted by the fact that full format document printers such as the Hewlett Packard HP 110 have become very cost effective and many contractors and suppliers are simply printing what they need in their own offices. Reprographers will have to change their business models to respond to these new market conditions or face the prospect of being a modern day example of a buggy whip factory.

Topics: Printing, Reprographers