Guess who's the second largest revenue-generating government agency in the United States - second only to the IRS? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms? The Department of Agriculture? How about the Postal Service? Nope, nope, nope. Give up? It's the Department of Natural Resources (Baton Rouge, LA). In fact, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LADNR), a branch of the DNR, generates more than a $0.5 billion annually - making it the second largest oil producer in the United States next to Texas. As part of its business, the LADNR is responsible for keeping detailed records of each of its 200,000 oil wells, which sometimes reach depths in excess of 19,000 feet.
A Loser Legacy System
Previously, the LADNR scanned well logs at a rate of 18 feet per minute onto continuous-feed paper, which resulted in paper logs as long as 140 feet or more. "It is necessary to print out and copy documents using continuous paper because it ensures that the data points and graphs line up," says Rizwan Ahmed, director of IT at the LADNR. "This information is vital for businesses that may want to drill water wells in the same area - they need to know how far down the water is as well as how to avoid tapping into heavy metals or gases that exist at different levels in the ground." Because of the length of the well logs it had to scan and the speed of its legacy scanner, the LADNR found itself with a backlog of documents that approached 3 million feet in length. Additionally, it wanted to provide better public access to the documents via the Internet.
From Underground To Cyberspace In Record Time
The LADNR issued an RFP (request for proposal) for an upgraded scanning and Web-enabled solution. The successful bidder was Lason, Inc. (Troy, MI), an imaging, data capture, data management, and output processing service provider. According to Gregory Woolverton, regional director of information systems in Lason's New Orleans service center, the project was the largest well log conversion job the company had ever undertaken. "Our challenge was to deliver 168,352 logs in digital image form for use in the state's Strategic Online Resources Information System (SONRIS)," said Woolverton. Most of the documents averaged 16½ feet (18 pages) in length, but more than 13,000 of them were oversized - between 25 feet and 140 feet long (27 to 153 pages). Lason reviewed several engineering scanners and ultimately chose Panasonic's (Secaucus, NJ) KV-SS855D scanner. The scanner has a scanning speed of 85 pages per minute, which is nearly four times faster than many of the other scanners Lason tested. Lason, with the help of software developer UniSoft (Stillwater, OK) integrated the Panasonic scanner with a scan-to-Web solution from FileNET (Costa Mesa, CA).
A Fast Web-Centric Solution
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The end result was a solution that allowed the LADNR to quickly scan well logs directly to the Internet. "We initially planned for 167 days to scan all our documents to the Web," says Ahmed. "Our new Web-centric scanning solution enabled us to complete the project in just 48 days and saved us more than 800 hours of production time." With the new solution, anyone who needs access to the well logs can save themselves a drive to the DNR office by logging on to the Web site (www.sonris.com) and by downloading a free plug-in. The user can then open the documents as PDFs using Adobe Acrobat. Because of the size of the documents, however, it can take hours to download using traditional modem connections. Those who download the documents are advised to use a digital cable or DSL (digital subscriber line) connection for faster throughput. While faster Internet connections do cost a bit more than traditional phone line connections, most will find the time savings well worth the investment.