Axalta colours up the industry
BY MICHAEL BAUMEISTER
Axalta Coating Systems’ story of success goes back to the year 1866 when Otto Louis Herberts laid the company’s foundation in the German city of Wuppertal. He was the first to introduce coatings in Germany – initially for horse-drawn carriages, later for the first automobiles. Since then, the company has grown to become a leading global provider of liquid and powder coatings.
Whether on the road or on rail, underwater, in agriculture, construction, household or sports, Axalta products meet the highest standards in aesthetics and function, and are used in the automotive industry, in industrial plants or for household appliances. The company offers a broad range of powder and liquid paint for automotive suppliers as well as the aftersales-market. For industrial applications, Axalta’s range serves special applications such as underwater pipelines for oil and gas for example. Its world-renowned premium brands like Spies Hecker, Standox or Cromax set standards for renovation coating products. The company maintains 35 production sites and seven technology centres for research and development that can be found all over the world in North and South America, Europe and Asia. About 1,000 scientists, researchers and engineers, business associates in 130 countries and 4,000 distribution partners require reliable data on products and processes. Additionally, many of the approx. 100,000 customers retrieve information about Axalta products in all the world’s languages every day.
The international orientation of the company and its clients did not make it easy in the past to provide systematically all data required. Therefore, the idea of setting up a centralised system for managing product and media data came about. Marc Dawert, Program Manager PIM and contact for Axalta Coating Systems, describes the situation pre-implementation as follows: “We had realised that the ideal solution for our requirement to consolidate all product-related data lies in one uniform database – combined with a system which enables product and media management via an intuitive interface and optimally supports us with many features and automation capabilities.” The Bertsch Innovation GmbH perfectly suited for the implementation of such complex projects due to its positioning as software and service provider. For Axalta, the Bertsch Innovation GmbH fits a double-bill as the firm builds on years of experience in many PIM and MAM projects and thus offers real added value – it’s not necessary to involve an independent consulting company.
The new, central publication platform for the integrated management of product data and digital media is based on the software application mediacockpit. As an open, scalable system, it provides all necessary interfaces for the connection to e-commerce, content management and ERP systems for print workflows, AV productions or online distribution. The advantages of a structured media management include cost and time savings through consistent media access and re-use of media, a personalised media delivery with tiered access rights for customers, partners and employees, or as well a flexible, customised workflow and data modelling. Mediacockpit includes mediasuite, mediapim, media projects, and mediapaper by default. The few features that were not part of the standard offer have been adjusted or additionally developed to fit the client’s requirements, i.e. the integration of the ERP system that was essential for Axalta. Since the system went live, all data is published in different channels like the following to mention but a few.
In mediacockpit, technical product data sheets (pdf) are created fully automatically and on a daily basis. In a first step, ‘change detection’ recognises all products which have been changed during the day, either by manual maintenance processes or as imports for example. Change detection thereby focuses solely on changes relevant for the respective channel, the product data sheets in this case. This keeps the process and update scenarios slim. In a second step, the modified products undergo the ‘generation process’, which selects the appropriate layout template and ultimately generates the pdf. In order to enable the access to the technical data sheets via all output channels later – in this case, the web shop and the download area for partner companies – the created files are of course stored in MAM and are automatically linked to the corresponding product. So Marc Dawert and his colleagues can rely on the automatic publication of technical data sheets.
The customised solution for the client further included a connection to multiple Magento stores for the release of dedicated product data including media. This works via the mediacockpit Magento API responding flexibly to changes in structures and data. An error handling was implemented additionally to assure Axalta that all data shown in the shop are accurate and up to date at any time. Another requirement was the provision of high-quality information on all Axalta products for all employees, esp. sales staff. So Bertsch Innovation GmbH is currently developing a mobile, cross-platform PIM application to provide the desired information with high relevance, i.e. concerning the availability of products both online and offline. International businesses benefit from the ability to define complex – and parallel – processes in their own workflows. Therefore, mediacockpit supports process flows in both the area of product data management, i.e. the translation of copy, as well as in media management, i.e. the installation and tagging of product images. The option to assign tasks or send messages to the users involved, creates awareness even when not working in the PIM/MAM system at the time.
Both, the staging as well as the live system of mediacockpit are located at the Axalta data centre in Philadelphia. Experts from Bertsch Innovation GmbH administer both systems and ensure the smooth operation of applications. Coordination with the company’s IT is possible if required. Marc Dawert: “The professional, proactive and pragmatic approach, the easy accessibility and response time and in particular the comprehensive experience as software maker and service provider for implementation in one, convince me still today to have made the right choice with the Bertsch Innovation GmbH.” Further development stages of the system are planned. Already, several segments and offices have shown interest in the solution being developed, particularly the corporate U.S. headquarters.
The mediacockpit product line assists advertising companies with their enterprise PIM/MAM and automated publications via print, web and mobile channels since 15 years.
Bertsch Innovation GmbH
Axalta Coating Systems Germany GmbH & Co. KG
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue Q2 2016. Picture credit © Banks Photo / Getty Images.