How to create greater flexibility for your data
BY GABRIELE MATTHES
The TKD Kabel GmbH is one of the largest suppliers of cables, wires, ready-to-connect cables and accessories for virtually all industries worldwide. The company has locations in Europe, America and China. Its focus is on markets for materials handling, industry and cable tracking chain systems. The firm’s entire range includes approximately 30,000 items. TKD thus serves a wide range of applications and addresses various economic sectors. Furthermore, cables, wires and systems are custom-developed and designed for specific client demands.
Until recently, a content management system for product data management was used. However, its ability had become exhausted and could not fulfil today’s requirements. In particular, the complexity of products could not be recorded, because each product has up to 170 attributes that need to be captured. Additionally, these data were dispersed to various media, i.e. a centralised management had become impossible. Furthermore, catalogue creation required an excessive amount of time and manpower. Another shortcoming was the lack of ERP integration, meaning an automated consolidation and accumulation of commercial details did not take place, i.e. price and stock information was not updated automatically.
Following the introduction of the PIM solution (Product Information Manager) of jCatalog, these functions are now fully available. The product data is enriched with all details required for enterprise-wide use in various segments and they are centrally stored, bundled and maintained in a continuous unitary structure. Thus, TKD has a consistent database for all product information at its command, which can be accessed quickly and easily by every employee. The use of interfaces and functions is intuitive, decreasing the cost of maintenance significantly. Naturally, error rate could be reduced through automation. All this affects time and quality for creating the catalogue positively as it is a mammoth piece of work with 36,000 illustrated articles in twelve languages. The whole process has become more efficient through the direct import of consistent data. Corrections and additions can be inserted without any additional effort even shortly before completion.
This also opens up new applications for TKD. All data required is available to the whole company simultaneously and up to date. Apart from “traditional” users in sales and marketing, who regularly need leaflets, deals or price lists and can easily create them themselves, other employees benefit from the high-quality product data as well. The PIM system provides development and production specialists with the exact information they need for the development and manufacture of new products.
What worked decisively in favour of jCatalog’s solution was the great flexibility of the software, that not only allows for capturing information from different sources, but also for simultaneous enrichment with large amounts of data using standardised procedures. Another important point regards the open interfaces. For example, the connection to the ERP system for bi-directional exchange was made very easily. Another significant advantage of the new solution is the technically focussed and differentiated representation for suppliers of TDK. It entails detailed explanations in form of supplier worksheets, which are enriched with more in-depth information than those designed for customers. These documents are directly generated from the PIM system.
The automated validation and storage is a great advantage in terms of handling and quality assurance compared to the previous solution. Competencies and responsibilities of each employee who is authorised to enter product data are monitored and controlled via integrated workflows. Through appropriate approval processes, correct data and consistency are guaranteed. The system-based translation and terminology management stipulates the use of well-defined technical terms and their respective translations so that uniformity prevails here as well.
The whole system is perfectly complemented by the database publishing solution SDZeCOM, a premium partner of jCatalog. Their software print comet provides direct printing of PDFs without having to use InDesign. This PDF renderer is the result of a development partnership between SDZeCOM and Plant II, another partner of jCatalog. Data sheets produced within the PIM system can be configured “without” detours and may be expanded with columns and product sheets. Attributes, translations and measurements can be added in the same way. In terms of creating a catalogue, there are other advantages. The catalogues are generally issued in two languages, of which the combinations can be chosen freely. The key feature: when selecting Russian as a language, it is automatically labeled EAC (security certificate) and the appropriate logo is added. When choosing whether to put out customer- or vendor-specific information, i.e. data sheets, worksheets, manuals or safety instructions, the country-specific or customer-specific assortment creation is taken into account.
Christian Honing, TKD’s Head of Marketing, sees the system’s distinct advantage in the company-specific, multiple uses. He summarises as follows: “With the introduction of jCatalog’s solution, we were able to increase the quality of our product information significantly. Another big plus is its use for different divisions. Our development and manufacturing experts are supported by reliable data for constructional planning.”
Last but not least, the firm wanted to offer its customers further improvements with the new system. This was realised by the introduction of the online product catalogue solution (OPC), especially with regards to convenience in search and selection as well as simplified ordering options. Via the website, information is now easily available and accessible for customers and the desired products can be ordered directly. Instead via e-mail or telephone, orders can be made via the online shop. In addition, clients can request custom offers tailored to their needs. For easier orientation and search, industry-specific images and the most up-to-date inventory are displayed. OPC simplifies and accelerates the search and selection with additional filtering options. The system also provides opportunities for comparison and clearly marks differences with different colours. Via interfaces for pricing and stock information, customers always receive the latest information and obtain an automatically created data sheet with all the details of their order via e-mail.
Christian Honing regards the selected solution as a future-safe investment. “Our demands will naturally change with the progressive development of our products. With the new system, we are ideally positioned to integrate necessary adjustments without much effort.”
JCatalog Software AG, a subsidiary of OpusCapita, is a leading provider of software and cloud solutions for Master Data Management. The sales and marketing applications include PIM, cross-media and multi-channel commerce.
jCatalog Software AG, a company of OpusCapita
TKD Kabel GmbH
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q3 2016. Picture credit © PM Images / Getty Images