Every organization has one. The dusty back storage room everyone tries to avoid. The one with the dark corner where blueprints, architectural drawings, engineering prints, and posters are piled up against the wall, dog-eared and wrapped with rubber bands, stored in cardboard tubes, or if they’re lucky, stored in high-density filing cabinets.
Because oversize documents aren’t the typical 8.5 by 11 inch size we’re used to, it’s difficult to know exactly how to store them. Should they be rolled and stored in cubby-style shelving? The problem is, rolling oversize documents for storage makes them cumbersome to access when you inevitably need them, and unrolling and rerolling causes wear and tear. Not to mention that a small water leak nearby, an electrical fire, or hungry pests could cause irreparable damage – and chances are, you don’t have backup copies. So what about using heavy high-density cabinets to store them? While they are safer, they’re expensive to purchase, take up a good deal of space, and require special reinforcement to the rooms they’re kept in. All those costs can add up quickly.
Blueprints and architectural drawings are critical documents that facilities and maintenance staff need to be able to easily access at all times, and some must by law be kept for a prescribed length of time. To meet these requirements, they must be stored in a way that’s secure, easily accessible, and preferably cost-effective.
Common Engineering/Architectural Drawing & Blueprint Document Problems
We spoke with Dana Panzarino, Managing Partner at VVA Project Managers & Consultants, about document management problems her clients often face. Dana told us that during large-scale corporate moves – managing relocations is one of VVA’s services – it’s common for clients to struggle with document management.
Sometimes VVA clients are consolidating several business locations into a new building which may not have enough storage space for the influx of documents. In situations like these, storage space is at a premium (not to mention expensive), so VVA asks clients to consider which documents need to be physically stored on site and which can be digitized.
Dana told us that digitization is especially helpful when VVA clients are deciding whether to bring high density filing cabinets (cabinets that store oversize documents) with them in a corporate relocation. Not only are high density filing cabinets large and heavy to move, but they also require expensive specialized reinforcement of the storage areas they’ll be placed in, so VVA often recommends large format document digitization as a cost-effective alternative.
How Large Format Document Digitization Works
So how exactly do oversize documents get digitized? With document scanning. Scanning your large format documents means you’ll have a digital backup of each one, insuring against physical damage as well as providing immediate access and a reliable disaster recovery plan.
The first step in large format document scanning is to take a look at what you have and how much of it will be digitized. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to begin working with a document scanning company you trust. You don’t even have to prep the documents before sending them off – a good scanning partner will take care of everything, unrolling and flattening included. That way you can spend less time worrying about documents and more time managing your important projects.
Your document scanning partner will digitize your documents with scanners designed especially for large format scanning. These scanners are able to capture an entire document as a crisp, full-color digital image, which is then indexed and ready to be loaded into your existing project management software or document management software. Instead of searching through flat drawers, tubes and hanging files, you can simply browse by building or project, or by searching a keyword or ID number. Talk about time savings!
Digitizing your large format documents also means that employees at every business location and in the field will be able to access them on demand from any computer or mobile device, then easily share them when needed. You’ll have a much easier time keeping everyone on the same page when you’re managing complex projects.
What Happens After Your Engineering Prints, Architectural Drawings, and/or Blueprints Are Scanned?
You’re off to a good start once your blueprints, architectural drawings, or engineering prints are scanned, but you’re not off the hook yet. In order to ensure your new digital images are secure and easy to access, you’ll need a proper document management solution.
A cloud document management system provides solid security, a consistent file structure that enables you to quickly find what you’re looking for, and instant access from any computer or mobile device.
Here’s a good example: In an on-site emergency situation or during a natural disaster, cloud storage allows you to instantly access building plans and share them with authorities so they can help evacuate the premises safely. It also ensures that every document is backed up and out of harm’s way, ready to use again as soon as business resumes.
How to Choose the Right Partner for Blueprint Scanning Services & Other Oversize Documents
They Assign You a Dedicated Project Manager
The ideal document scanning partner will set you up with a dedicated project manager to expertly guide you through the entire digitization process, from scanning, to indexing, and finally to setting up your document management system. You’ll undoubtedly have questions, and you shouldn’t have to speak to multiple contacts to get the answers you need.
They Have the Right Scanning Equipment for the Job
Oversize documents like blueprints, architectural drawings, and engineering prints are highly important to your organization’s operations, but there are rarely backup copies of them. You need a scanning partner equipped with scanners made especially for handling large format documents, both to ensure you’re getting the clearest, crispest digital image possible and to protect the integrity of your delicate originals in case you want to keep them.
They Offer Professional Indexing
The company you partner with should also be able to professionally and accurately index your documents after scanning so you can find them in the future with a simple keyword search.
They Offer the Right Document Management Software Solutions for You
A good partner will offer a range of document management software solutions, but that shouldn’t be where their services end. They’ll also help you select the right one for your organization’s needs, train you and other staff on how to use it, and offer ongoing support and troubleshooting should you need it in the future.
Figuring out how to manage oversize documents is a big job, especially when you have other things to do, like keep your facilities running smoothly. Let MetaSource help you out. Tell us about your document situation and we’ll get back to you soon with a solution.