So say you have to sort a lot of papers that need to be in a single stack in a specific order. Any idea how hard it would be to rig one of these up, or if its even worth it? Maybe someone sells one that I just haven't found. A simple google search doesn't really bring up anything remotely close (i.e. mechanical sorting, document sorting, business automation machines, or mix of the above terms). Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

active| newest | oldestYou need lots of space. The floor is good.

Take your stack of papers. Then grab 8-15 of them. Sort those. It is a quick process for a human to sort such a small number of papers--you basically just put down one, then get the next one and decide where the it fits relative to it, and repeat. It's easier if the number is smaller, but you'll need more space on the floor. You'll have to see what is an easy number for you to quickly sort by hand.

Put the sorted pile face-up somewhere safe. Then grab the next pile of 8-15 papers. Don't worry about counting them--just approximately the same size will do. Sort that pile and put it face-up somewhere safe. Repeat until all of the big pile has been divided into sorted sub-piles.

Now take two of your sorted piles and merge them into a single larger sorted pile. With practice this is a fast process. You can put the piles face up, or hold them in separate hands. You see which of the two face-up papers comes first in order, and put that one down face-down. Now you have two face-up papers again (one of them was already face-up), and see which comes first, and put it down on top of the one before. Repeat until you're done with the two smaller piles and have a larger pile. Then turn it face-up and up it in a new area of the floor for larger piles.

Then take two more of the smaller piles and merge them. Repeat until you're done. If you had an odd number of piles, don't worry about that, just put it in the area of the floor where you were putting the larger piles.

Now take the larger piles two-by-two and merge them into yet larger piles.

Repeat until you are left with one pile.

Let say you started with a stack of 300 papers, and divided them into piles of 10. Then you'd be sorting 30 piles of 10 first, which is kind of annoying, but easy. Next step you'll merge the 30 piles into 15 piles. Next step you'll merge the 15 piles into 8 piles (one will be untouched). Then 8 to 4, and 4 to 2, and 2 to 1. All can be done pretty fast.

Doing it automatically requires multiple complex technologies, including image parsing (to find the information on the document), OCR, and paper handling/feeding. Picture building a large copy machine from scratch. All of these exist, of course (the first two are part of those "executive toy" business-card scanners).

But -- yep -- you'd need to OCR every page, at least enough to extract the information you need to perform the sort on.

Unless you are doing a LOT of this, it isn't worth automating. Humans are remarkably efficient paper-handling and OCR systems. The trick is developing systems that minimize how often you need to examine every page. Racks/tabs/piles, and either a sub-sort or insertion-sort strategy, will work pretty darned well. If necessary, find friends to help -- divide the task up, then mergesort the separate results.

Honestly a couple hundred pages isn't all that much.. fwiw, I'd suggest that you find a way to enjoy it.

What do you mean by "in a specific order", what type of papers?

L

Alphabetical

Numerical

Androgynal

get permission to adapt or get lawyers if you are on ego.

A