In the office I manage we use a couple of different solutions regarding scanning so briefly here are the nuts and bolts:
Fujitsu 4120/5120 Scanners with ScanTango software. The scanners are very reliable and we run 100-300 pages through them each day 5 days a week (they are rated for 1K pages/day). The ScanTango software allows you to create scanning defaults so that users can just click a shortcut on the their Desktop, Dock or wherever that executes a specific type of scan (i.e. single sided, grayscale, 200dpi, save to network share). It also allows scripts to call up these same readymade workflows. What makes ScanTango work so well with FM Pro is that it is scriptable using Applescript. Patch Cards are what really make any attempt at document scanning and management automation possible. In our case documents are stored on a network share and linked to FM Pro records. The scanning process breaks down to the following:
- From FM Pro click a button that says “scan for this client”, the button runs a script that manages the following (this is actually a mix of Filemaker scripting and applescripting).
- The user is asked what type of scan they have (double-sided, single-sided, B&W, color, etc.)
- Based on the user input one of the readymade scanning workflows is selected
- As each document is scanned the user is asked to name the files before they are saved*
- The script in FM Pro has already inserted a variable into the ScanTango workflow that has told it where to save the documents*
The solution we have implemented requires knowledge of Filemaker scripting and Applescript to create if you are in an all Mac environment. I think this could be replicated in a Windows environment using the software supplied with the Fujitsu scanner. In the Mac environment you’ll need to pick a scanner model based on what is supported by ScanTango. From the user’s point-of-view this is all magic. FYI The ScanTango team has always been quick to respond to my questions or problems. Disclosure: I used to work for Fujitsu so I am little biased towards their scanners although my real-world experience has backed up this bias.
In the near-future we plan on moving all of our documents to an intranet/extranet wiki so that clients can access their documents using an extranet interface (or I may ditch this idea and create an all Filemaker solution). This will require re-thinking the whole scanning workflow but it won’t require purchasing any new hardware or software. My limited testing so far indicates that things will be simplified on the Filemaker side by doing this and a little more complicated on the applescript side. Actually I’m not sure I will need the applescript component in this new environment as ScanTango can handle all the variables using pre-printed patch cards.
Additionally to add to our capability I am integrating our office copier/scanners so that they to can scan directly to the network share (or future wiki). We have several Konica-Minolta BizHub units which are good for scanning 50+ page documents as well as odd-sized documents and currently they scan to email. This means the user has to manually name the file and select it’s destination. By adding on some eCopy units to each BizHub they will be able to automatically save files to the appropriate network location and the user will only have make a few selections from the eCopy interface as well and enter some meta data (key words or tags).
* as things stand now the user still ends up selecting a sub-folder where the documents are actually saved. Using the patch cards correctly will allow us to bypass this step as well as automatically naming the documents (but this is not fully implemented yet in our environment).