Scanners’ Profit Potential
Wide-format scanners can be a rich source of untapped revenue and profit for many PSPs. According to DuPaul, more than 50 percent of the building projects in the US are reconstruction or remodeling projects. That means the architect or engineer heading up the project is heavily dependent on drawings in paper format that where created in the 1980s or earlier. These paper documents must be put in electronic form for manipulation by software programs now used by the AEC industry, DuPaul says.
“The print service provider can take the set of drawings, and scan them into PDFs,” he says. “Then they can take it a step further and say to the customer, ‘Do you want me to vectorize this documentation to allow you to import it into your CAD software, and thereby avoid a lot of manual steps?’
“There is Scan-to-CAD and there is AutoCAD Raster Design, and the one that seems to get a lot of oohs and aahs when I’ve seen it demonstrated is called WiseImage. The reason for the oohs and aahs is that it does a lot of things automatically that otherwise would have to be done manually.”
For instance, he says, it can vectorize maps—a huge benefit because scan service bureaus often depend on maps for up to 30 percent of their business—and in addition can actually geo-reference those maps.
Input a ZIP code, and the program will access a database, locate that plot of mapped land, and put it in a context that users can reference, DuPaul says.
Many PSPs, he adds, don’t realize that the supplementary ability to vectorize the data adds value. “I have to believe that based on cost models, that could become a very profitable service they could offer specific clients,” he says. “There are a lot of building projects. And there are a lot of private mapping companies that could become clients of PSPs.”
In addition, many governmental agencies at the state and local level are dependent on geographic information service (GIS) providers to deliver census data, land use data and environmental protection data, DuPaul says, noting this translates to large numbers of hand-drawn paper maps that have to be scanned to be electronically accessed.
Land developers who bid on government-owned land want to be able to look at the land online. But many government-owned parcels are mapped only in paper form. That spells opportunity for PSPs who choose to embrace CCD for the scalability it offers them, he says.
The bottom line is that “architects, engineers, and GIS professionals want to focus on designing and being creative,” DuPaul adds. “They don’t want to be thinking of copying and scanning. CCD systems can definitely justify their costs.”
PSPs can build revenues from printing customers who could also benefit from scanning, Honn notes. “The customer doesn’t know what’s possible,” he says. “The customer may have a very dogmatic view that a scanner is a narrow desktop [machine]. They don’t know you have production speed scanners that can be used to archive documents.”
Companies with a lot of paper documents recognize they could be much more efficient by ridding themselves of the paper and freeing up space. But they put it off because it’s such a time-consuming job. Using outside vendors is one way to accomplish that task and improve the quality of the stored documentation as well. The documents are often very old, have fold marks and can be dirty.
“But someone who does this routinely can do the digitization and the cleanup, so the documents look better,” Honn says. “It’s a benefit to the PSP’s customer. It expands the value proposition to existing customers. They’re in these accounts frequently, may be walking by the stored documents.
“And it’s a matter of having an educated eye that there is a potential revenue source.”