extract panel data from PDFs

How Do I Extract Panel Data From PDFs? First, Answer These 5 Questions

by Mark Clark, on February 13, 2020 8:37:02 AM PST

Extracting panel data from PDF documents is not for the faint of heart.  If you already read The Odd and Interesting Story of Panel Data, you'd know exactly what that means!

Typically it’s a time-consuming, manual (and some would say torturous) process that’s as tedious as it is filled with error.

It’s all because of the challenges of extracting panel data.

It’s no secret that to extract panel data from PDFs is a pain. Those that do it know why:

  • No universal format

  • Different document types

  • Variations in table formatting

  • Scanned, handwritten specs

  • Drawings spanning tens (or hundreds) of pages

  • There’s never just one panel drawing

  • And this list could go on and on….

So if it’s so tough, why isn’t there a fix?

Well...there is. The first step? Answer these five questions. Your answers will help you identify if your processes are broken, and if they are a good candidate for automation!

Shall we begin? (That’s not the first question! 😃)

QUESTION 1: Is Complete Panel Data Truly Necessary for Your Business?

If it sounds like an easy question, that’s because it is.

But, before you start down the path to automated data extraction from panel tables, it’s an important one to answer.

If you don’t truly NEED more accurate, complete data extracted from panel tables, then there’s no reason to invest the time and money to automate the process!

QUESTION  2: Imagine You Can Fully Automate Data Extraction from Panel Tables...What Would That Mean for Your Business?

Several years ago, a well-known global logistics company (UPS) ran a branding campaign that asked a question…”What can Brown do for you?”

Well, consider the automated data extraction version of that question!

What can automation do for you?

Don’t brush off answering this question. By thinking deeply about the effects of automation, you’ll come up with ways that automating the manual data extraction process can affect your business outcomes.

Here are some thoughts to get you started.

  • Automation will reduce the time spent extracting data from panel tables. How will your employees use that time they get back?

  • By using automation, the data you extract from the panel tables will be more accurate due to a lack of human error. What will more accurate data mean for other processes? For your organization?

  • Automated data extraction means you’ll get more complete data, faster. How would more complete data extracted from panel tables impact your business?
QUESTION 3: Now That You’ve Uncovered the Possibilities, What Are the Processes and Functional Areas That Could Benefit from the More Complete, Accurate  Data Extracted from Panels?

Find others in your organization that use—or could use—data from these documents. How might their workflows change if they were provided ready-to-be-consumed data?

In other words, it’s time to consider where you’d be able to use this data. How could it impact specific processes or functional areas?

Make a list! Make note of the process or functional area, then how more complete and accurate data pulled from the panel charts would help.

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • [FILL IN PROCESS HERE]: [FILL IN WHAT BETTER DATA WOULD MEAN TO IT HERE]

  • (You get the drift, eh?)
QUESTION 4: Have You Attempted to Automate Data Extraction from Panel Tables in the Past, But Run Into Frustrating Barriers?

If panel data is critical to your business, then your answer to this question is almost certainly a YES!

In other words, if you have the need to automate, it’s likely you tried several ways to solve the problem, but ultimately ended up shelving your efforts.

Automation of data extraction from complex documents, like panel drawings, has been a challenge for a long time.

You’re not the first to hit roadblocks and postpone automation efforts. And, you won’t be the last.

The most important thing to take away from your answer to this question is this: As technology has evolved, so has the automation of data extraction.

Keep plugging. Don’t give up!

QUESTION: 5: As a Result of the Barriers (and your frustration), Have You Resigned Yourself to Using Manual Data Extraction for Panel Drawings?

That wouldn’t be surprising.

But, as alluded to in the last question, there’s another way!

Consider one particular Fortune 50 leader in engineering and manufacturing.

For more than a century, this stalwart has done business globally across multiple sectors, including aviation, power generation, healthcare, renewable energy, transportation, and finance.

To win business, the industry giant needs to respond to RFPs in a timely manner. Their biggest challenge in doing so? The RFP documents  they receive are always free-flowing, often, spanning hundreds of pages with no fixed structure.

Like what you’ve probably experienced, their team would spend weeks extracting relevant information to be used in their quotations. The combination of the time it took to pull data and the risk of inaccuracies often cost the company their competitive advantage...and even affected how their brand was perceived.

Then, the company met Infrrd.

With the help of the Infrrd IDP Platform, an industry leader increased their data extraction accuracy by 90% (not a typo!) and they reduced the time to process the data from a single 200-page document from weeks to a few minutes.

What if you could reduce data extraction from panel tables from weeks to minutes?

If this Fortune 50 company can do it, so can you.

Explore the possibilities.

Automating panel data IS possible. And the effects it can have on your business may astound you. 

Don’t give in to the limiting beliefs just because you already tried OCR or cloud automation tools from Amazon or Google. 

If you’d like to explore the possibilities with someone who’s been there...or even just want some assistance figuring it all out, let’s chat.

Read more about how others have addressed their data extraction challenges head on and thrived.

OR...if you don’t want to wait to grow your business, chat with an expert right now!

Chat with our Experts

Finally, if you dig helpful content just like this...register to get it regularly! 

Sign up for regular updates right to your inbox. 😁

table-1

 

Topics:Intelligent AutomationAI ReadinessBusiness InsightsHow To