Category Archives for "Products"

What is the Difference Between Parts and Consumables?

When you own a scanner, or multiple scanners, you are responsible for keeping that equipment running efficiently by keeping consumables on hand.  The components of a scanner that touch the paper and are designed to wear out and be replaced every 3-6 months are called “consumables.”  They are different to what are referred to as “parts” of a scanner.  Consumables are designed this way to maximize the performance of the scanner and are end user replaceable, meaning you don’t have to be tech savvy to perform the operation.

The most common types of consumables are rollers, lamps, and pad assemblies.  Depending on the scanner manufacturer (Fujitsu, Bell & Howell, Canon, Panasonic, Kodak, etc..), you may have to replace one or more at least a couple times a year.  When a scanner starts jamming or double-feeding paper, the most common cause of this problem is usually worn out consumables.  Other imaging problems like: no longer reading bar codes, poor OCR results, or getting an optical alarm can usually be solved by replacing the lamps

When a scanner has a maintenance contract in place, it usually just covers the parts and not the consumables.  ImageSource receives a lot of calls from customers asking why the consumables are not covered and parts are.  The answer is because the consumables are almost always end-user replaceable and must be replaced much more often than parts.  And if your scanner is under maintenance, it’s usually required to have parts replaced by a certified technician.  See our blog on benefits of having a maintenance contract.

Not sure where to get parts or consumables for your scanner?  Contact ImageSource, they are happy to help!

Andrea Latham, CDIA+

Inside Sales

ImageSource, Inc.

Phone 360.943.9273

www.imagesourceinc.com

SharePoint for the Enterprise

Microsoft has created a major presence in the enterprise content management arena with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.  Is SharePoint best suited to serve as a single ECM solution for the Enterprise?  The real question is what does it take to have a successful SharePoint implementation.  From my perspective, here are the things one should consider:

  • Implementations must be carefully planned. Incorrect installations lead to a lot more time and money spent later on down the road to fix the problem. Where are the cost savings then?
  • Tame the data chaos by defining document libraries based on content types. Be sure to not use a one solution fits all approach when defining metadata and requirements.
  • Administration is critical from an IT perspective in terms of its support, maintenance, and updates.
  • Have a roadmap, design documents, and a detailed project plan that defines roles and responsibilities, along with a risk assessment.  Don’t try to do it all at once and make sure everyone knows the plan and the timelines.

Organizations such as ImageSource are using SharePoint for managing active electronic content and supporting collaboration.  SharePoint can be easily used as a bolt on to existing ECM systems like Oracle IPM (Imaging and Business Process Management).

The value of implementing a duo like this increases exponentially with the ability to store fixed paper based content with in the Oracle IPM content repository and to leverage the SharePoint repository for your active electronic content and team collaboration portals.

Jon Sutherland
Sr. Systems EngineerImageSource, Inc.

Oracle IPM Workflow Software: Overuse of Custom Forms

With a product such as Oracle IPM software the temptation arises to develop a new front end to feed an existing software solution the client may have in place. The IPM product has a GUI which allows easy rule based routing, e-mail notification, trigger events and others with no programming skill required. The solution does allow for considerable development to take place as well, which is where the temptation to over develop can occur.

The workflow is powerful in aiding the processing of incoming content, be it Web based forms submitted or scanned documents, and it provides the tools to facilitate data entry.  Its ability to create custom forms allows for data entry to occur solely within the IPM platform. Care should be exercised though, since it should never be the goal to simply substitute an existing data entry method with a new face. This leads usually to excessive coding of the workflow form in trying to mimic all the functions and rules of the existing product, creating a bond between the two products which will require more effort in the future when the platforms undergo upgrades.

In many instances the workflow will be at its best when it is used as a simple delivery mechanism for the content, this will give the organization the advantages of an electronic workflow and minimize if not eliminate the need for custom coding. In other instances there is a happy medium; usually this is when a separate mechanism such as Kofax KTM has been used to extract data or if the input mechanism is a web form where the data has been captured already. In these instances a Workflow form and a script event which subsequently uploads the data after review can be extremely efficient; again the caution needs to be made to not try to recreate an already existing program

The delineation between how much custom code is enough and how much custom code is too much can be tough to ascertain, but with experience and some common sense evaluation on how much gain is really being realized for the end users experience in processing a balance should be obtainable, cutting development costs and time to implement for your solutions.

Jeff Doyle
Sr. Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

 

 

SCSI vs. USB 2.0 in Production Scanners

Over the course of my time selling imaging hardware, i.e. scanners, many customers ask me which is better…SCSI or USB 2.0?  Actually some don’t even ask, they insist that SCSI (small computer system interface) is still the fastest option.  Unfortunately for them, almost all scanner manufacturers have moved to using a USB 2.0 interface as option on their scanners and some are USB 2.0 exclusively.

When the first USB (Universal Serial bus) it was slower than SCSI and at times Flakey. Anyone who has ever installed a SCSI device knows that there was definitely room for improvement in this technology as well. Between double checking SCSI ID’s and triple checking the Termination you could spend quite a bit of time sorting out a SCSI install if it didn’t go right the first time. But when USB 2.0 came out it was stable and fast. In fact there is little to no degradation in speed with the scanners.  In fact, Kofax has stopped manufacturing SCSI cards all together.  VRS used to be a limitation of USB in a production environment because it required a SCSI adrenaline board interface, but now the latest versions of VRS are more versatile and work with USB 2.0 just as well if not better than SCSI.

USB 2.0 is working its way to becoming the standard in imaging technology because it less expensive than SCSI and so much easier to work with.  You also have one less point of failure with the USB 2.0 vs. the SCSI card.  So for those people with the common misconception that SCSI is faster and better, I’m here to tell you that USB 2.0 is just as good when it comes to speed and less expensive for your pocketbook. It also opens up the door to using laptops.

ImageSource, Inc. offers the all of the best names in imaging hardware – Fujitsu, Bowe Bell & Howell, Panasonic, Canon– each one with their own strengths, but all equipped with the newest and latest connectivity of USB 2.0

Andrea Latham, CDIA+

Inside Sales

ImageSource, Inc.

 

Leveraging ECM Software APIs

System Engineers must to be able to choose from a menu of technologies in order to solve ECM business problems. While ECM software vendors often strive to provide a complete set of tools for any anticipated business challenge, in reality, technology advances almost always outpace product release cycles.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Extensible Markup Language (XML), and many other similar, and often interoperable, technologies have and are being developed in an effort to provide the ability to glue disparate systems together using  published, standards-based mechanisms. While extremely useful, these technologies suffer from some of the same issues as vendor software such versioning, bloat, vendor specificity, and so on.

As an engineer in the field, it’s critical to choose best-of-breed products that solve a core purpose extremely well, then extend the product with other current technologies until a complete solution emerges. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), whether COM, Web Service, or something else is what makes this extensibility possible. The most useful ECM products provide rich APIs and callable interfaces.

I’m currently finishing a project that uses Oracle’s Imaging and Process Management (OIPM) product. The customer’s version of OIPM targets Microsoft Visual Basic 6 .dlls for custom scripts, and Microsoft .NET 1.1 framework for web development. However, I wanted to target the 2.0 .NET framework for the process scripts, and the 3.5 SP1 framework for the web interface. The web interface solution in particular takes advantage of LINQ, XML data stores, implicitly typed variables, jQuery, and AJAX.

Fortunately, OIPM, while using a fairly old COM-based codebase itself, provides mechanisms that allow an engineer to retain the proven usefulness of OIPM image storage and workflow, but extend to .NET managed code for scripts and web development. The sum of the parts becomes a much more useful solution then if all development was restricted to a closed ECM system that did not provide APIs or was completely COM based.

If you wish to dig deeper, or need a solution, ImageSource  provides training, custom development, and field services for many of the popular ECM products.

Clint Lewis
Senior Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.