Tree-saving technology

Roz Ayres-Williams

Anyone who has done research at the Library of Congress and sifted through reels of microfiche to retrieve any of the countless titles it houses can appreciate the work that Samuel Metters is doing. His mission is to help move Americans closer to the paperless society we’ve been hearing about for the past 15 years. “We’ll never become a totally paperless society,” Metters says, “but we can at least get two-thirds of the way there.”

His $40 million BE 100s company, McLean, Virginiabased Metters Industries, has been pioneering in the field of electronic document management systems (EDMS), providing electronic imaging systems, software and services for voice, video and data. “We can make an imprint–take a picture–of each of these forms of communication and transfer that image to electronic and digital storage devices that take up much less space and let us get to the information we want in a matter of seconds,” Metters explains.

Electronic imaging, along with electronic data interchange (EDI), where data flows through computers, are the major components of EDMS. The applications are endless, says Metters. One of his wholly owned subsidiaries, Blue Ridge Technologies, develops EDMS for voice and data. A second company, Mekel Engineering, makes equipment that transfers video images to CD-ROM and laser disks. Soon, when you visit the Library of Congress again, you’ll find 20 or more books stored on one CD-ROM. All you’ll have to do is press a key and your selection will pop up on the screen-”just like on a CD jukebox,” he says. Professionals, from doctors to educators, will be able to teach or consult with others thousands of miles away on a real-time basis.

Metters’ firms help companies make the transition from paper, microfiche and other outdated modes of storage to digital warehousing. The IRS, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, Northwest Airlines, Howard University and Federal Express have all solicited the services of this information industry pioneer. Metters firmly believes businesses that successfully make the transition from paper to electronic communications using EDMS methods will find themselves with a strong competitive edge, speed and lower cost.

The movie industry, including Fox Studios, a Metters’ client, also is applying the technology to preserve vintage movies, transferring them from eroding nitrate film to newer, more durable film stock, CD-ROM and laser disk. “Whatever the medium, with imaging technology the information you need will literally be at your fingertips, easily retrievable and quickly displayed,” says Metters. “It beats shuffling through paper any day.

Inside Metters Industries
In November 1997, Metters Industries was awarded a records management contract with Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania-based PECO Energy Co., a publicly owned and regulated utility that provides electric service to over 1 million customers. Metters will install a system allowing electronic archiving and retrieval of plant records for the PECO nuclear facilities. The system will provide Web-based access to nuclear power facility records, and allow PECO users at various locations to archive and retrieve all records of plant conditions, evaluations and corrective actions for conducting operations and maintenance.
Metters Industries consists of:

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