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XML-based content management system

XML-based content management system improves production
source from softwareag.com

"Because the red light, switch do not can" badly translated and incorrect operating instructions like these are not only irritating for the end user, but can also cause difficulties and, above all, extra costs for the manufacturer because faulty instructions are equated with a faulty product. In addition, under German product liability law, the manufacturer is liable for up to DM 160 million for personal injury caused by a defective product.

"Product information is very important for all mechanical engineering companies," explains Falko Lameter, Head of IT at Kaeser Kompressoren." Especially when they produce the variety of products that we do."

The company, which was established in 1919,and today has over 2,500 employees in more than 50 countries, sells all sorts of pneumatic engineering services and products. It offers screw, reciprocating and portable compressors as well as vacuum packages and rotary fans, all of which are manufactured in accordance with the customers requirements. Kaeser range of screw compressors alone consists of 14 product lines, each of which can contain up to four different models. In addition, Kaeser supplies different versions of these models to different countries. At present there are more than 200,000 Kaeser screw compressors in use worldwide.

The machines are produced by Kaeser Kompressoren on a "just-in-time " basis. A set of operating instructions for each compressor is also created "just in time "by the company Technical Documentation department. A few years ago, Kaeser began to use a highly developed modular concept for writing these operating instructions.

All the text, pictures, circuit diagrams and drawings, which might be needed for the operating instructions of a particular compressor, are stored as individual building blocks of information. In total, Kaeser has created more than 60,000 building blocks in 17 different languages. A single set of operating instructions can be made up of as many as 150 building blocks, depending on the type and model."

About 80% of the modules for the operating instructions of the different versions of one type of compressor are the same," explains Lameter." The most obvious thing was to use an effective content management system to automate the process."

Lameter and his team were no strangers to the advantages of the new XML technology for effective content management. After a comprehensive market analysis, Kaeser came to the conclusion at the end of 1999 that Software AG Tamino and Bolero would provide the best answer to the problem. By January 2000, the two companies were developing a solution together, which is now being tested and will be implemented in early 2001. "

There were many reasons for using XML for content management," says Sigismund, Sales Director at Software AG." The solution for Kaeser benefited above all from the fact that XML made it possible to separate the content from the layout. This meant that independent and reusable information units could be created in different formats and yet combined very flexibly."

For each type of compressor, the development team created an XML document, which contains, on the one hand, the information common to all compressors of this type, and on the other hand, a selection of information units for the different versions. When drawing up operating instructions, the editor calls up this schema and selects the variants. The system automatically collects the relevant information units and combines them "on demand "to form a set of operating instructions, which is then printed."

At the moment we are only using a printed output format," explains Lameter." But next year we will begin to use XML flexible output options as well, and put the operating instructions on the Internet. This will be an enormous improvement in service for our customers, who will be able to download operating instructions from the Internet whenever they need them."

A further challenge, which Kaeser was able to overcome with XML, was that of long-term archiving. The software solution that the technical editorial staff had previously used to prepare operating instructions worked with a proprietary format, which would make accessing operating instructions difficult if ever the company installed a new software solution. Furthermore, experience has shown that software solutions have a shorter service life than the Kaeser compressors, which work for well over twenty years."

By using XML we are banking on an open and future-proof standard," says Lameter." This means that in twenty years, it will be no problem to access today operating instructions."

In the next phase of the project, the content management system will be linked to the existing SAP R/3 system, which Kaeser uses for production planning, among other things. The company will employ the Bolero CLIP for SAP solutions to do this." By linking the two solutions we can automate the process even further," states Lameter. "XML and Software AG technology will really enable us to optimize our time to market."

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