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Thomas Kern
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t.kern@crossbase.de

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Herby Tessadri
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 h.tessadri@crossbase.at

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Successful completion of the PIM project at Schöck

With crossbase, a continuous process in connection with SAP has been created. The SAP attributes are transferred fully automatically and supplemented with additional attributes in PIM. This attribute maintenance takes place directly in the departments in which the corresponding knowledge is available…. Whether product structures, image categories, text categories, formats, templates or publication elements – everything follows a stringent order. This facilitates cross-team work.

Dirk Fehrenbach
Project Manager PIM Project, Schöck Bauteile GmbH

Baden-Baden (Steinbach), July 04, 2014: Schöck Bauteile GmbH is a company of the globally active Schöck Group with 13 companies and around 610 employees. The head office is in Baden-Baden. The focus at Schöck is on the development of ready-to-install components. The main product is the Schöck Isokorb® – a load-bearing thermal insulation element for preventing thermal bridges on cantilevered structural components such as balconies, arcades or canopies. Schöck is the market leader in Europe in the field of reinforcement and building physics solutions for minimizing thermal and acoustic bridges.

Central functions of the solution

The ACTUAL situation

The previous process for creating print publications was very time-consuming. Data maintenance was done directly in the documents created with InDesign. The basic data of the more than 30,000 products was transferred manually and enriched with additional features, images, texts and tables directly in InDesign. In the translation process, the language change took place directly in the document after the texts were provided by the translation agency. The main problem was a lack of a unified system that contained all the information about a product. No central and consistent data pool was available – country-specific publications were disconnected and developed separately.

The challenge

The resulting time expenditure caused by the manual creation of the various publications such as technical information and price lists in 23 different language-country variants had to be minimized in order to achieve an increase in productivity and up-to-dateness.

Schöck Bauteile GmbH therefore planned to introduce a central and database-based management of all product information for all countries and languages in 2011.

The aim was to create a consistent database with a link to SAP, via which the automation and control of country-specific publications and media is served. The data maintenance and translation process should be transparent and standardized.

Solution requirement

The company was looking for a standard software solution that meets all the requirements of global product communication and enables the automated creation of print publications. The greatest emphasis was placed on a transparent editorial process, which should enable the user to work efficiently and easily. The translation process as well as the print output should be set up in a user-friendly way and guarantee an automated and continuous production process of print publications in different language-country variants.

In an evaluation process, five leading PIM systems were examined with regard to the requirements relevant to Schöck. During the evaluation, it became apparent that the possibilities for individualizing the crossbase standard software in combination with the service-oriented approach are decisive for a successful project. This led Schöck to choose crossbase's PIM, MAM and crossmedia solution.

After the decision for the solution of crossbase, the analysis and conception started in 2012. During the project analysis, the following priorities were defined for the project:

  • The display of the complex dimensioning values. It should be possible to display these in compressed form and in three dimensions (concrete cover, strength and height). Important here is the connection of the mass maintenance via the matrix dialog and the later evaluation in table form.
  • The management and country-specific labeling of product information (e.g. graphics, texts, features) in order to be able to map market- and media-specific product views.
  • The definition of a few layout templates for many different page layouts in order to be able to automatically derive editorial content such as graphics, drawings and product photos, texts as well as tables with product information into the sophisticated layout.
  • The production of country-specific publications that differ in terms of product range and content, combined with an efficient translation process.

The crossbase solution

Based on the crossbase standard software, an individual PIM, MAM and crossmedia solution was configured for Schöck. Standard software and individual solution concepts, which are also releaseable, are no contradictions for crossbase. For Schöck, it was important to add specific customizations to the software, such as the matrix maintenance dialog. Thus, important requirements, such as the maintenance of complex dimensioning tables, could be optimally fulfilled.

The software was installed in Baden-Baden – access for all employees, including those from other locations and employees with Apple systems, is via Citrix.

The first print publication created with the help of crossbase by January 2013 was the "Technical Information XT" (referred to as TI in the further course). Employees from different departments worked on the preparation of the TI, which consists of 10 product chapters and an editorial building physics section. One team comes from the technical support area, which was responsible for PIM maintenance, technical editing and data maintenance. A team of media designers created layout templates, margin elements, paragraph/character styles, templates, and graphics. The SAP team from IT provided support in technical matters as well as in the initial data transfer and connection of the SAP PIM interface.

The starting point of any PIM project is the data interface to the ERP system. For this purpose, a classification of the articles and their characteristics was carried out in SAP in advance. A daily import of PIM-relevant sales items with product characteristics and prices via an automated data interface results in an up-to-date database. This is crucial for cross-media product communication. Based on the SAP interface, the data maintenance process follows in crossbase.

Matrix maintenance dialog

A central dialog that was developed individually for Schöck is the matrix maintenance dialog. It is used to enrich the products with extensive design features. Over 600 design attributes were systematically defined and parameterized. Thus, millions of design characteristics can be efficiently maintained.

Language-country variants

In the editorial structure, images, formulas and texts were arranged in so-called sense units and maintained with country-specific indicators in order to be able to map market- and media-specific product views. This includes the country-specific technical information (29 countries and 34 languages) for the target groups "structural engineers" and "architects" as well as the price lists. These publications are produced automatically via crossbase and Adobe InDesign, whereby the country variants are controlled via the catalog assortment and the country-specific evaluation of the media and text elements.

Print automation with displacement rules

The highlight of the print production was the automation of the variant-rich page documents and complex tables via currently 6 layout templates. The elements were placed on the page using flexible displacement rules. Using the print server, editors were able to get print-accurate previews of pages during data maintenance, even without a local installation of Adobe InDesign.

Solution details

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The application modules and further information

Download reference report

kalle.klammroth@crossbase.de