Microfiche scanning projects come in all sizes, big and small. And although they’re focused on scanning the same type of material (microfiche), small projects are done a little bit differently than your standard fiche project.
With small jobs, it’s a matter of scale. Because there aren’t that many microfiche sheets, there’s not a lot of time to get the project running like a well-oiled machine – instead, by the time the project is set up and started, it’s close to finished.
Because of the brevity of these jobs, we’ve crafted a standardized way of starting and running small microfiche scanning projects. The six steps are listed below with a description of what goes into each step.
By the end of the article you’ll have a clear idea of how we execute small microfiche conversion projects and what you can expect.
1. Receive Microfiche
To get your project started, first we need to receive your microfiche.
How you get your fiche to us depends on a few things, such as where you’re located, how many sheets you’re getting scanned, your comfort level with the various methods of transportation, and so on.
Once we get your microfiche, we’ll tag the containers they came in (likely bankers boxes or something similar) with a barcode sticker. This tag will contain information related to your project, such as the project number, your company’s name, date received, and other related data. This barcode is used throughout the project so we know where your fiche are in the process, how many units have been scanned, and who’s handling the records.
The platform we use to track this info is called the Material Tracking System (MTS) and was built by our own software team to handle the specific abilities our project folks needed. At any time during your project, we’ll be able to tell you where a certain record is and what’s going on with it.
2. Create Your Process Flow
A process flow is the way that we’ll scan your microfiche records during your project.
It’s a series of steps that will convert your fiche from hard copy and transform them to a digital format, and take them all the way to delivery and invoicing. A process flow can be 10 steps or it can be 50 and will depend solely on your specific scope of work.
Why is there a process flow?
Because without one, we’d probably lose track of what we’re doing. With 30+ projects running simultaneously per month, having a process flow allows us to run and track all the various jobs at the same time. If we didn’t have a process flow then everything would be manual. And that’s inviting problems
With a small microfiche scanning project, the number of steps in your process flow will be fewer than a “standard” project because we keep the scope of work for small projects simple.
But even though it’s not a complex project (most likely), we still utilize the method to ensure we know what’s going on with your project and it’s running smoothly throughout the duration.
3. Microfiche Preparation
Before we can scan your fiche, they have to be prepared for scanning.
Preparation, or “prep,” includes checking the fiche for any issues such as tears, images falling out of jackets, anomalies in material type, and so on and so on.
Density checks are used to calibrate the scanning machines for your fiche, and then the fiche are moved to the scanning room for the next step in the process.
4. Microfiche Scanning
In this step, your microfiche are scanned based on the scope of the project and the calibrations derived from the prep phase.
Fiche typically get scanned in batches – they’re placed in stacks (5-10 sheets) on the scanner and our scan operator supervises and tends to multiple machines as the fiche are scanned. In some cases the fiche will need to be manually handled and the scan operator takes care of that.
Although it’s a mostly automated process (the actual scanning), the fiche have to be continually watched to ensure that the images from the sheets are captured clearly and so the machines don’t run into issues that slow down or stop scanning.
5. Post-Scan Image Processing
A post-scan image processing step is conducted after your microfiche are scanned. The sub-steps in this phase are not necessarily required, but we’ll mention them so you have an idea of what may be included.
One of the post-scan image processing steps is to frame the scanned images. Framing removes borders around images and gives you a clean page instead of including the physical background of the fiche sheet.
Quality assurance (QA) checks are also part of the post-scan image processing phase. We review the scans to ensure that we’ve accurately captured the fiche images and are providing you with a quality product.
Optical character recognition (OCR) can be applied to your images to make them text-searchable. It’s not a guarantee that every word and phrase will be searchable, but normally does a pretty good job of helping you find data on your files.
The last step in the post-scan process is indexing. We’ll organize and name your files based on the scope of work. For small fiche scanning projects, the standard indexing method is to capture the information from the microfiche title strip.
6. Project Delivery & Material Return
The last step in the project is to return your digital documents and hard copy microfiche.
Once all the other steps are complete, we’ll export your digital images and data to a USB (likely a thumb drive since it’s a small project) and send the USB and your microfiche sheets back to you.
If your microfiche contains sensitive data (such as HR files, student records, HIPAA data) then we’ll encrypt the USB so it’s better protected.
Small microfiche scanning projects are generally under 5,000 sheets of fiche, so once we receive all the records the whole project will take about 2-4 weeks.
If you have a different timeline you’re looking to meet we can adjust the schedule, but 2-4 weeks is a good estimate to start from.
If you have a small collection of microfiche that you want to digitize, call us at 800.359.3456 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll have one of our sales reps walk you through the scanning project process.
Check out other articles about microfiche scanning and digitization:
“3 Mistakes That Can Derail Your Microfiche Scanning Project” cover common mistakes that can swamp your microfiche scanning project. Avoid these!
“How Much Will You Pay For A Small Microfiche Scanning Project?” takes a look at the services we provide, the general price of your project, and other information to help you decide if scanning your microfiche is right for you!
“Microfiche Scanning: 6 Frequently Asked Questions” answers common questions that we often hear about a microfiche scanning project, such as “what type of microfiche do I have?” and “what are my options for microfiche digitization?”.