Magazine Article | May 1, 1998

The Benefits Of Bar Code Indexing And Electronic Document Storage

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

These technologies reduced Wells Fargo Bank's
storage space needs by 98%.

Integrated Solutions, May-June 1998
In 1993, Wells Fargo Bank made the decision to centralize loan files for over 1,000 of its branches in 13 Western states into two regional processing centers in Portland, OR, and Phoenix. Consequently, the bank needed to automate its loan documentation storage and retrieval processes in order to keep up with growth in loan applications and to reduce the documentation costs of loan processing.

A Hefty Challenge: Storing 30,000,000 Documents
With over 1 million active loan application files at any given time, and with an average of 30 pages of documentation per file, the bank faced a formidable challenge in storing and retrieving over 30 million documents. A corporate decision was made to use new imaging and workflow automation technologies as the strategy for reducing storage and retrieval costs. Addressing electronic imaging and document storage required a complex process of selecting RFI (request for information), a RFP (request for proposal), contract negotiations with multiple systems integrators, a flexible plan, hardware and software design/prototyping, and, finally, a customized system.

For example, certain critical documents, including the loan application, bank note, disclosure statement, security agreement, title and legal documents were required to be maintained in both hard copy and electronic form, while all others could be archived and stored off-site. In this case, the document-control system had to coordinate hard copy and electronic documents.

Electronic Storage Of Images Reduces Storage Space By 98%.
Document Control Solutions (DCS), a nationwide records and information solutions provider, was chosen to design and implement a reliable process for converting paper documents into easily retrievable images. After extensive study and testing of document conversion processes using actual Wells Fargo loan files, DCS built a document preparation, scanning, storage and indexing system involving recent developments in bar-coding technology.

According to Susan Speyer, director of conversion and document capture at DCS, an electronic storage and indexing system was developed. The system uses a DCS-designed pocket-folder system called Quick-Filer™ (which archives document images electronically), in conjunction with a bar-coding protocol using Image-Trax™ (a DCS bar-code tracking software) and Printronix L5031™ durable laser printers. Because the L5031 prints high-quality images without applying high heat or pressure to the media, it is the only printer that could print special media, (pocket folders in this case), in the high volume demanded by the project. In this system, critical hard-copy documents were stored at the branch office in specially designed bar-coded pocket folders. When scanned, they linked the loan officer to related electronic documents archived on the database, in addition to identifying the documents inside the pocket folders.

Scanning paper files and storing their images electronically reduced storage space by 98%. Only eight to 12 of the 30+ documents in a loan file were required for daily operations, while the remaining documents could be destroyed or archived.