A desktop scanner is a complex piece of machinery. What in the not too distant past required a room-sized piece of equipment can now be accomplished on a device about the size of a kitchen toaster. But don’t let the size fool you, there is a lot going on under the covers. Inside are highly sophisticated cameras, gears, rollers, a printer, and sophisticated electronics. As with any type of technology, a check scanner will deliver peak performance when properly cleaned and maintained.
Paper handling is the biggest challenge for any check scanner. Paper comes in different finishes and can be in various states of condition when it reaches the scanner. Paper can be folded, wrinkled, or completely wadded up and no matter in what the condition of the paper check or money order, the scanner is expected to feed it and create a quality image. In addition, paper checks sometimes have correction fluid or other contaminants on them. All of these can not only affect the ability of the rollers to pinch and feed the check, but these foreign materials can rub off onto the rollers affecting future feeding quality.
Digital Check recommends cleaning the scanner every 8,000 to 10,000 items by using a cleaning card and compressed air. This can be done by putting the scanner into a cleaning mode of operation which runs the feed rollers continuously until stopped. Using a cleaning card designed for your scanner, the first step would be to allow the initial feed rollers to turn against the card for five seconds while holding it firmly and then releasing the card to run through the track. This step will allow the feed rollers scrub against the cleaning card, cleaning off any contaminants that have collected on the rollers. Since these are the first rollers to touch the check, they are generally the dirtiest. They are also the most important rollers to clean as they also separate the checks from the batch, preventing double feeds. This step should be repeated four times, turning the card after each cycle. Next, run the card through the scanner another four to eight times, turning or flipping it each time to expose a fresh side. Finally, it is helpful to remove the covers and to clear the track using compressed air as paper dust can build up in the track. Some scanners will also require the lenses to be cleaned separately with a cleaning swab. For more information about cleaning the scanner, see our helpful videos.
Cleaning the scanner is a key requirement to ensure the proper functioning of the device. Failing to keep a scanner properly cleaned will increase the likelihood of double-feeds, “can’t reads”, misreads, and items rejected by the Fed. Each of these errors can be extremely and unnecessarily costly to the bank, especially when compared to the minimal amount of time and effort required for cleaning. One best practice that some banks have implemented is the use of Microsoft® Outlook or some other messaging or calendaring application to send out reminders to their tellers on a scheduled basis (weekly or bi-weekly, depending upon the branch volume) to clean their scanner before the start of a week. Digital Check also provides a remote maintenance application that can be used to monitor and remind the teller to clean the scanner.
Older scanners may require the feed rollers to be adjusted from time to time to increase tension on the separator rollers at the beginning of the track, while newer scanners are self-adjusting. A typical teller scanner should have a useful life of about 2 million items.