Business Technology

A Paperless Farm: Scanners

One interesting thing about starting to get more involved with a growing farm is that you start to get a grim picture of just how much paperwork there is to do any small thing. I know that we are putting up a new hog barn (which I would say is a “big thing”), but even just hauling manure onto land that is owned is cause for paperwork.

So what is a person to do?

I’m not sure what the “end game” will look like for this, but I do know that I want to try go as paperless as I am able to. This will require a few things to happen:

  1. I need to get my hands on every piece of paper that flows to and from the farm.
  2. I need to try to digitize as many of the forms as I am able to, including invoices.
  3. I will need to find myself a capable scanner I can tuck into a backpack. I can’t keep a computer and scanner in the hog barn office, so I will need to be able to take one with me.
  4. Figure out the best way to catalog, share, and backup all of the various pieces of paper I will be digitizing.
  5. Invest in a good paper shredder.

The idea is to digitize as much as possible and then to transition more and more of the paper stuff that we need to do to digital as well. It will be a long process, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

However, the wildcard at the moment is the portable scanner. It would be nice to have something be small enough to fit into a backpack (along with a laptop), comes with a document feeder attached, scan both sides of a document, and be USB-powered as well. Actually, that is also the order I wold rank those features (1 being most important):

  1. Small enough to fit into a backpack
  2. Has a document feeder
  3. Scans both side of a document
  4. USB-powered

After throwing the question out to Twitter and doing a little research myself I’ve come up with the following possibilities (all links to Amazon):

Each has problems so I’m not sure what I am going to ultimately purchase.

  • The Doxie One is the smallest one along with being the cheapest. I can also scan directly to removable media, which could be a benefit where I just bring it a long, scan the documents, and then bring them back to my computer to work with them. Sadly, no dual-side scanning and only a single page at a time.
  • The Canon imageFORMULA P-215 is perhaps the front-running at this point. It is the middle-of-the-road option as far as size and weight but it has a document feeder, does dual-side scanning, and looks to be pretty speedy at the same time. While it is still small, it IS more than twice the weight of the Doxie One.
  • The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i is the largest of the bunch and is comparable to the Canon P-215. The ScanSnap series is very well-regarded overall.

At the moment it is a toss-up between the Doxie and the Canon. I’ll report back when I have made a decision and used it a little bit, but it will need to be soon. That paperwork does not go away.

2 replies on “A Paperless Farm: Scanners”

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The Canon seems the best choice if you need portability & TWAIN. That’s the only thing the Fujitsu doesn’t have that I see as a weakness. I’ve never been disappointed with Canon!

I’m very curious what tool you’ll use to work with all these digital documents. Evernote seems like a good fit but I wonder if it fits all the farm use cases.

I’m not sure what to do with filing. I might just end up using a folder-based system, as archaic as that sounds, because it will supply the greatest flexibility between platforms. I will end up trying a few things to see if anything sticks in the end.

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