A key requirement of the digital transformation of the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) is to digitise documents that have been stored in the organisation’s offices and warehouses over the past few decades to facilitate easy retrieval of information. SEWA installed high-volume production scanners from Kodak Alaris Information Management at a centralised location to scan 24/7 without interruption.
SEWA is a government organisation dedicated to serving the people of Sharjah, one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), by fulfilling their electricity, water and gas needs.
The organisation’s goal is to safely and reliably deliver electricity, water and natural gas in line with stringent quality standards using the most advanced technologies available, under the supervision of highly skilled workers. SEWA has the distinction of being the only utility to achieve the ISO 50001 certification in the Middle East region.
As part of its digital transformation project SEWA wanted to modernise its records management system, reduce information retrieval time and promote faster decision making.
It also wanted to minimise the cost of storing and handling physical documents and enable staff to focus on mission-critical functions. This is because when government records are well managed, SEWA can save money, reduce wasted time and easily share knowledge within and across their organisation.
Kodak Alaris has been instrumental in helping SEWA digitise massive volumes of documents, which has increased productivity and enabled staff to retrieve information in seconds rather than days.
The file compression technology of Kodak Alaris scanners has reduced storage and internet bandwidth requirements. SEWA, with the support of Kodak Alaris, aims to digitise 100% of their documents (over 18 million pages) within three to four years.
Dr Rashid Alleem, Chairman of SEWA, said: “We believe that aligning business and technology is critical to mitigating business risks and maximising benefits from the technologies. The value proposition of digital transformation is immense.
“A strong digital workplace is vital to achieving an organisation’s goals in the digital economy. SEWA touches the lives of over 1.5 million people in Sharjah, so it’s important to have smart technology to facilitate providing the best services. Our customers and employees are reaping benefits.
“Our ethos in the organisation is collaboration and co-creation and hence we have secured the best technology companies to work with. Among them, we have selected Kodak Alaris for all our scanning requirements.
“In our earlier IT environment, we had a mix of various brands of scanners and we found Kodak Alaris to be far superior in terms of image quality, reliability, compression capability and speed. So we decided to standardise on Kodak Alaris for all our scanners across the organisation.”
When the decision was taken to embark on a digital transformation journey, one of the top priorities for the IT department was to digitise all the documents from the various SEWA offices.
It was decided to follow a step-by-step process for digital transformation starting with digitisation of paper documents and then moving things on-line and trying to get as close as possible to a paperless environment.
SEWA set up a centralised scanning operation at Halwan in Sharjah and deployed a mix of i4250 and i3200 scanners from Kodak Alaris. Scanning takes place in three shifts, 24×7 which means quality and reliability are of the utmost importance.
“The scanners at our centralised scanning location capture millions of documents annually and work around the clock. As a result, they need to be heavy duty, since downtime affects productivity and is not an option. The physical nature of the documents itself makes scanning a challenge since they are of odd sizes and some of them are nearly 60 years old and are in bad condition,” said Dr Rashid Alleem.
“We have been very impressed with Kodak Alaris’ scanning technology. It has delivered nearly 100% scanning uptime with no major breakdowns.”
Features in Kodak Alaris scanners like Intelligent Document Protection ‘listen’ for a tell-tale crumpling sound and immediately stops the scanning process to protect paper and the information it contains.
This has enabled the scanning of old, brittle documents that would otherwise not have been possible with other scanners. With huge volumes of scanning, speed is another important consideration and again, Kodak Alaris scanners with speeds of up to 110 pages per minute (ppm) have been instrumental in shortening the time required for SEWA’s digitisation efforts.
One of the most important scanner features has been Kodak Alaris’ file compression technology which the IT head of SEWA, Sayed Tousifur Rahman, believes is the best in the market because it saves files in less than half the size of competitive offerings and saves up to 50% of the storage costs.
He said: “If you capture an image at a higher file size, storage costs are going to be high. As a policy, we scan all documents in colour. Kodak Alaris scans at 150 to 200 dpi and compresses the image to a file size between 110kb and 150kb.
“When scanning volumes are as high as ours, this makes a huge difference in storage costs. It also affects network traffic. When users download an image from the server, if the image size is smaller, then download is quicker and bandwidth usage is less. Kodak Alaris has helped us optimise our server and network resources.”
On average, SEWA has been scanning roughly 500,000 pages (approximately 100,000 documents having multiple pages) per month using Kodak Alaris scanners. Archiving of documents from the various SEWA offices is at various levels of completion.
Citing an example of how Kodak Alaris has helped SEWA streamline its records management system and increase efficiency, Dr Rashid Alleem, said: “In our Electricity Services Department (ESD), customers used to come to get permission for their new construction site and we were supposed to retrieve their old documents which used to take three to four days. Once we started archiving the documents with the help of Kodak Alaris scanners, it gave us the ability to retrieve the information in seconds.”
SEWA currently has 30 Kodak Alaris scanners in the centralised scanning centre and across the various service centres. Kodak Alaris-backed local service and support, a key component of the Alaris IN2 Ecosystem, is being delivered through Visiontech Systems International LLC for planned maintenance as well as fast break/fix response, when required.
“Kodak Alaris has been a strategic partner for SEWA. As a head of IT, the best proof-point from a technology standpoint is not receiving any end-user complaints or helpdesk requests. With Kodak Alaris, I have absolute peace of mind. I look forward to enlarging the scope of our relationship with Kodak Alaris in the future,” said Sayed Tousifur Rahman.