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Robotic Records: Massively Automating Paper Storage

By Dick Weisinger

The FBI recently consolidated and modernized their records management operations. 120 linear miles of records consisting of more than two billion physical pages are being collected and moved to a location in Winchester Virginia. It will take a total of more than 500 semi-truck loads of paper records trucked into the location.

The facility will be managed by more than 100 robots using an Automated Storage and Retrieval System to manage the records. The grid within the building will cover roughly two football fields in size.

From: the FBI.gov web site

Records have been consolidated from 56 field offices into the 256,000 square-foot facility. The warehouse has been under construction since 2017 and cost $135 million to build.

But is it the best use of money? Maybe. Why not digitize the whole lot of documents? At 7 cents per page, it would take about $140 million to scan two billion pages. The long-term cost savings of a vastly smaller digital footprint would make the records easier to maintain and would have the benefit that the data would be searchable and with backups that could ensure business continuity in the event of a fire or other disaster.

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