Review: DRS PS1000

Editorial Type: Review Date: 2018-05-01 Views: 1,276 Tags: Document PDF Version:
Milton Keynes-based DRS has been around for over 45 years now and in that time the company has forged an impressive reputation based on a singular vision of high volume data capture devices, designed and manufactured to a very high specification in the UK

Traditionally there were two main target markets for their products: education (registration as well as exam sheet processing) and elections (voter registers and actual polls, including the London mayoral elections). Since being acquired by awarding body AQA in 2016 the focus has been much more on the education business.

It's been a few years since DM last took a close look at a DRS offering, and the new PS1000 is a natural progression from its predecessor the PS900. While the old machine was primarily focused on OMR applications (on which DRS has long built its reputation) the new device is far more sophisticated in almost every respect, and is a true imaging scanner in a way that will broaden its appeal far beyond the company's traditional core users.

One unique aspect of the DRS business model is that the company has its own hugely successful bureau business, based just a few miles from the head office, which regularly processes vast quantities of scripts for examination bodies - an application that demands not just very fast turnaround and response times, but also absolute accuracy of data captured. Running their own bureau operation means that the product development team at DRS has instant access to user demands, issues and potential enhancements, and this insight has clearly informed the development of the PS1000 scanner.

It offers genuine high volume, high speed scanning with flexible capture options: OMR of course, but also OCR/ICR, barcodes, and image capture. The PS1000 can simultaneously apply multiple image capture rules onto the same form. The optional imprinter (a must for bureau audit purposes) doesn't slow processing speed at all.

The PS1000 is rated at 200 pages per minute (A4 300 dpi) but interestingly DRS prefers to describe it as 'up to 12,000 forms per hour', which reflects the company's focus both on forms and on volume. The machine's open paper path and ultrasonic double feed detection make for smooth throughput of course, as well as ease of operator intervention when required. DRS scanners have always been notable for their robust build, and the PS1000 is no exception, feeling like a workhorse that will comfortably handle anything the 'rough and tumble' of bureau use can throw at it.

On-the-fly exception handling means operator downtime is minimised, and general ease of use of the device means that training time for new operators is negligible - important for bureau environments where staff are often brought in at short notice for specific projects. Again, the DRS bureau background means the scanner is optimised in all sorts of ingenious ways for use in demanding environments, and simple but thoughtful touches like the placement of wheels and handles, and easily replaceable rollers all add to the feel that this is a scanner designed for bureau users, by bureau users.
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With a design and build based on many years of solid pedigree - and, crucially, the company's own bureau business - the PS1000 is a standout product in a very specialised sector, and is likely to bring DRS far wider recognition across the market.