What’s More Productive: Four 30-ppm (page per minute) Scanners or One 120-ppm Scanner?

This question is often asked: What’s more productive: Having four 30-ppm (page per minute) scanners or one 120-ppm scanner? Here are four answers from experts in various industries that you may find useful and insightful:

    1. This would primarily depend on your scanning batch size. Scanner speed is only one element in overall throughput. The non-productive time taken between batches to load new pages and re-start the scanner has a dramatic impact on throughput. So, if you have large batch sizes, the faster scanner will be better, but with small batch sizes, the scanner speed is negated. So… 4 slower scanners can be just as, if not more, productive.  -Colin Baterip
    2. In a typical outsourcing arrangement, the cost of labor could amount to 60-70% of the project cost. To run 4 scanners, you would need to consider the cost of having 4 operators, 4 PCs, 4 workstations, and corresponding rental costs, etc.  -Joseph Leow
    3. There are so many variables at play, it is not easy to make a sweeping statement to say one way is better than the other. For instance, nature and condition of documents, availability of resources for preparation and scanning, and daily throughput requirements, just for starters. Speed is not necessarily the be-all and end-all. Then you could look at the organization itself — are you looking at it from a service provision point of view or as a recommendation to an end user? I.e., distributed capture with smaller scanners might make far more sense for an end user.  -Ian Case
    4. Scanner speed matters little in the overall throughput of a scanning operation… A high percentage of overall costs is associated with scanning documents… Take into consideration the nature and condition of the documents to be imaged… It is not only possible to address those high costs of prep labor (getting those unruly documents ready for scanning), but document preparation is being significantly reduced in organizations across the globe right now! I know of companies that are easily achieving 2x and upwards of 3x improvement in productivity because they refused to believe that document prep is just the “cost of doing business.” Instead, they have chosen to implement scanning technologies specifically designed to minimize or eliminate document preparation prior to scanning.  -Tim Osman

The Bottom Line

Faster is not necessarily better! It depends on the use case.  A single fast scanner may idle more because the bottleneck could be in prep, access to documents, or the loading and un-loading of larger batches. Parallel processing, or using several scanners at once, can have many benefits for OCR, data capture, and document processing.