Information on a printed page is vulnerable

Access to information on a printed page is...valuable

Document Imaging

Advantage Information Management Solutions (AIMS) has been providing our clients with high volume, and even higher quality electronic document imaging service projects from paper, microfilm and microfiche since 2003. Our average staff member has more than twenty years of experience with sophisticated document scanning services, facilities management and a broad array of document imaging and data capture services. The Advantage Companies has a client portfolio that boasts numerous large scale projects consisting of engineering drawings, books and other media. We convert images and data from all types of media from commercial documents to rare books, computer files and photos.

We do not have an “out-of-the-box” approach to digital conversions. Our experience substantiates the common sense premise that every client’s needs are somewhat different, even within the same industry, government agency and application area. As a result, every The Advantage Companies project is customized and tailored to specific client requirements. Since 2003, we have conducted many document conversions within the categories below as well as other projects such as Director’s Minutes, Catalogs, Photographs, Technical Reports, Brochures, etc

Document Conversion Process

As with any major project, the key to creating the comfort zone you need to get started is by breaking the many moving parts into smaller, more manageable pieces. Identifying, sorting, organizing, scanning boxes and boxes of paper documents into a logical system easy for all the stakeholders to use is a major undertaking. The basic steps of this process will include some or all of the following:

  • Inventorying of documents that need to be converted
  • Boxing and transportation of required paper documents
  • Preparing documents for scanning (removing staples, paper clips, ragged edges, etc.)
  • Scanning paper documents to agreed upon format
  • Indexing to specifications that make sense for your organization or institution
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to permit easy search on scanned documents
  • Loading indexed, scanned images to a Community History Archive or other document management system
  • Return or destruction of the scanned documents

Document imaging services and document scanning services from Advantage Information Management Solutions include indexing and online document hosting. We integrate existing databases with files kept in paper, microfilm and microfiche. No service bureau can match our experience and state-of-the-art techniques. Projects include multi-million dollar conversions, onsite scanning equipment and ability, management and “on demand” information retrieval.

All phases of the document imaging process, such as preparation, document scanning, document indexing, PDF conversion, OCR/ICR, etc. are managed effectively by the experienced team at Advantage Information Management Solutions. We work closely with our clients through the entire life-cycle of the project utilizing proven project management methodologies. Our experience covers a broad range of document types. We scan items as small as credit card receipts or as large as building floor-plans. We have wide experience with difficult paper such as tissue or color copies and two-sided documents. All valuable and fragile papers are evaluated and processed to assure proper care and accurate conversion. Our large assortment of scanners, digital cameras, and other advanced imaging equipment permits us flexibility in our approach, and provides the client with the most cost effective and highest quality deliverable available.

Our successful project management and data conversion experience is backed up by outstanding references in government and almost every paper-intensive industry. For our key markets and alliances, click on the navigation tab at the top of the page. Methods range from single page processing with manual data entry to high-speed OCR / ICR, forms processing and media conversions. Our web based document hosting affords companies the ability to archive and process data on a real-time basis. Secure access is available to authorized users from any location. We fully administer our sites for backup, software and hardware upgrades, security monitoring, etc.

Maps, Drawings, Plans, Blueprints, & More

Laboratory Notebooks

Sewn notebooks must be kept intact in order to evidence the sequence and dates of research. Millions of dollars may be at stake if a pharmaceutical house or research laboratory is unable to demonstrate that the records have not been tampered. We typically scan notebooks with pages two-up to reduce the cost of individual page scanning.

Justification for document scanning services may involve many factors; some are easy to quantify in dollars and others that can only be quantified through educated projections. The easiest justification is where digital records are mandated or paper volume is so huge that there are literally no alternatives. Reassignment of experienced personnel to more productive functions is a typical benefit of document imaging. More commonly, concern about missing documents demands that documents will be available when needed.  If supporting documentation is not available for litigation, proof of ownership and intellectual property, tax filings, etc. the penalties can be onerous.  Continuity of business operations in case of a disaster might not be possible. Documents that were misfiled or lost prior to scanning will obviously not be found, but once captured, there is never a need to physically remove and re-file an item.  Since the information is then subject to usual network backup procedures, there is almost no chance for lost documents.

There are two aspects to improved customer service;  Immediate responses to inquiries differentiates the top-tier customers, but there are also direct cost savings in the time needed to search for paper documents, re-file them, return telephone calls, write letters or e-mails, copy or fax information.  If supervisors or managers have to become involved because of delayed responses or lost data, their time should be added to operating costs. Finally, there are costs that are much easier to quantify. These include the direct costs of clerical support and overheads including supervision.  It is also relatively easy to determine the cost of cabinets, filing folders, floor space, heat, light, cleaning, copying, warehousing, etc. Somewhat more ambiguous are related costs that might include the cost of recreating vital documents, higher audit expense, pressure to respond to governmental inquiries and situations where large amounts of manpower are needed for one-time research.

The Advantage Company’s scanning and conversion services for drawings include blueprints, mylars and drawings spanning “A” to “J” sizes. Although most clients request TIFF or Adobe PDF images, output is available in a variety of output formats including DWG, CALS and JEDMICS.

We scan engineering drawings at our facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa or onsite at our client’s locations. Our large staff provides the flexibility to do large back-file conversions as well as ongoing scanning of smaller volumes of work. Indexing and file naming may just specify drawing and revision numbers or capture any data that is present on the drawings.

Data capture may include reconciliation to extracts of an existing database, use of bar-codes or manual data entry. Our least expensive approach is to securely encrypt images and send the digital data offshore for keying and key verification. Alternatively, all indexing can be done right at the client’s site or at The Advantage Companies facility.

Historical Vital Records

Older governmental records, such as Birth Records, Death Certificates, Marriage Documents, Land Records, Maps, etc. were often recorded in large permanently bound archival libers. Often, they must be scanned within the public buildings in which they reside.The Advantage Companies has worked with County officials to scan large plat books that were hand written and often the only record available.

Choosing A New Vendor

There is understandable stress when selecting a new vendor. Consideration must be given to preservation budgets, about providing good and current resources to your patrons, and ultimately about the preservation of your community’s history. Here are four questions that you should consider asking of a potential preservation vendor (and from your newspaper’s publisher, as they ultimately choose a vendor).

How will my master microfilm be stored?

This is extremely important – silver-halide master microfilm is tested to last 500 years, but only if it is stored properly, in a humidity-and-temperature controlled environment. Copies for libraries are made from this master microfilm, and will inherit any issues with clarity and readability.

What are your microfilming quality standards?

The permanent physical record of a newspaper (and often of the history of your town) requires care and precision. Does your vendor strictly adhere to ANSI and AIIM standards? Is the film stock used the one you contracted for? Do you currently audit the density, reduction ratios, and clarity of your film? Do you have a clear understanding of the vendor’s quality control process? Do you understand where, and under what conditions your film is being created? Have you requested a sample?

How well do you understand the needs of our library and community?

Have they even asked? Are you receiving all of the newspaper titles that you need to offer your patrons the best research experience? Does your account manager have knowledge of best practices for storing and viewing your film? Does your vendor understand the value of digital records, and know when microfilm is a better option than digital, and vice-versa?

Can you help on other projects? 

Can your microfilm vendor assist in preserving documents for you directly? Will they help build a preservation program to aid in saving old documents, genealogy books and charts, and more? Do they have the knowledge to help build a digital repository?

Are your prices fair?  

No follow up questions needed when it comes to price, you will know.

If you do not feel your current provider can, or is willing to answer the questions above, or you suddenly find yourself with out a provider…we would like you to know that there is an alternative. We built Advantage Preservation specifically to address the deficiencies in the industry. We came together from different areas in the preservation and newspaper publishing communities because we are not happy with how publishers and libraries are being treated. We have designed a preservation solution with clear and open answers to all the above questions, as well as a dedication to quality and a focus on marketing your history. Our program is designed to care for newspaper publishers and libraries equally.

Please remember to contact your current vendor to make sure they are taking care of your history

While it may be physically possible to guillotine or disassemble bound materials to scan using lower-cost automatic page feeding, there are important archival and legal reasons that vital documents may have to be individually handled. At Advantage we convert fragile archival documents and bound volumes with meticulous professional handling to maintain document integrity. Depending upon the condition of the documents, we scan directly to digital form or microfilm the items and then scan the film. Our services are utilized by leading libraries, archives and universities.

The Markets We Serve

We truly value our long standing partnerships with libraries and publishers, in communities across the United States. We have been privileged to help them preserve, and online access  to their community’s history, and are pleased that they have joined in the cause to ensure that documents from the past are accessible in the present, and available in the future. In addition to our existing relationships with community newspapers and public libraries, we continue to enter into new partnerships with museums, historical societies, genealogical societies, colleges, universities, and more, to provide Document Imaging,  Preservation Microfilming Services,  Microform Scanning,  Digital Archive Hosting,  and  Document Management Solutions.

Libraries & Historical Societies

The Advantage Preservation team has been partnering with libraries, colleges, and historical societies to preserve their local history one community at a time. We take great pride in our work to preserve the past, make it accessible in the present, and ensure its future…..and it all starts with converting local historical newspapers and other documents onto 35mm Silver Halide Microfilm, It is critical to protect the valuable printed content, from the ravages of time. Our internal microfilm standards exceed ANSI/AIIM standards for microfilm preservation.

Newspaper Publishers

Newspaper publishers have recorded their community’s “first draft of history” everyday. We preserve that history, on microfilm, and partner with the publisher to make that preserved content widely available to interested libraries and institutions in their community and beyond. Our processes meet or exceed all ANSI/AIIM Standards for microfilm preservation. The service will be done at no cost to our qualifying publishing partners. The papers will be shipped to our facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they will be handled with care.  Qualifying publishers will also enjoy a revenue sharing opportunity on the content sold on a subscription basis to the interested libraries . The master negative copy can be stored at no additional charge in our state of the art vault under the publisher’s ownership. We are merely the custodian of the publisher’s intellectual property.

Government Agencies

The Advantage  team has been closely monitoring the painful condition and trends in the budgets of our state governments… and we are extremely conscious of the fact that one of the hardest hit areas over the past several years has been in document imaging and historic document preservation services in our government libraries, historical societies, archives, & other agencies.  Often the cuts have been deep, and in many cases, these institutions have been under funded, or no longer receive funding at all. We have developed several service offering and solutions in the wake of the ongoing budget cuts and resource allocations…many provided at no cost to the state or its tax payers.

Educational Institutions

Advantage Archives  has been working with educational institutions of all sizes, public and private for many years, and we understand the importance of the services they provide their students, their community, their state, and beyond. We have partnered with these college & university libraries, K-12 schools, & other educational institutions to provide subscriptions to newspapers on microfilm,  preservation microfilming services,  digital access solutions, and much, much more. We also recognize that the administration is burdened with more paperwork than ever before. Dealing with paper-based business processes while struggling to comply with regulations such as NCLB, FERPA and HIPAA is resource intensive to say he least. Our document scanning  and conversion solutions for educational institutions can help reduce costs, improve staff productivity and provide superior service to departments, faculty, students and parents.

Commercial Markets

Historical preservation is far from our only area of expertise! Our dedicated commercial document imaging solution division AdvantageIMS,  is dedicated to providing solutions to industries and government agencies everywhere. Businesses large and small value their partnership with Advantage, as much as we value ours with them. Archiving and retrieving information may not be your core competency, but it is ours. We provide solutions tailored to your industries including hospitals, universities, law firms, manufacturing companies, research firms, transportation, and any other business that generates paperwork. Advantage’s commercial division has provided document management solutions for many years. We pride ourselves in our understanding of business documents and their impact on your bottom line. We listen to your needs and requirements and design a solution specific to your company and its’ clients.


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