Individual Sales Approach Thanks to Automated Catalogue Production

Automated catalogue production using the client/server architecture from InBetween provides Weidmüller, the market leader for Industrial Connectivity, with clear advantages: product information is positioned within a dynamic layout in such a manner, that customers can quickly access the necessary information.

Providing customers with a sustainable solution for their specific needs is the objective and purpose of all corporate business activities. And this is especially true for innovative pioneers and technology drivers operating on sophisticated markets. As a leading provider in the fields of electronic connection, transmission, conditioning and processing of energy, signals and data in industrial environments, for Weidmüller, the printed catalogue is not only relevant for product communication between Sales and customers, it is additionally an important image media. It is a great advantage when interested parties have a catalogue at hand, in which essential product information and solutions can be found.

The PIM system, myview Xmedia, provides all product data for all channels such as BMEcat, online catalogue, mobile App, RailDesigner, product configurator and the print publications. On this basis, 14 standard catalogues are produced, which support Weidmüller’s customers in gaining uncomplicated access to relevant product information. This is insofar a challenge, as the respective target groups definitely have different interests, which are revealed in differentiated print catalogue requirements. Weidmüller accommodates these needs by providing different structures and individual product sector layouts.

Minimized Effort in Production

The need to search for automation approaches on the basis of the existing PIM system arose due to the steadily increasing product portfolio. The complexity of the technical data to be presented grew more and more multifaceted. A further reason was the increasing internationalization of the company. The catalogues needed to be promptly produced in numerous languages. Furthermore, the process of creating and revising catalogues was to be optimized.

To efficiently meet customer requirements, Weidmüller now uses the approach of largely automated catalogue production via InBetween’s client/server architecture. The result is a higher number of language variants, as well as an overall increase in technical product pages. Prior to this, due to the extensive time and effort, approximately 1000 technical product pages were first printed in German and subsequently compiled in English. Further language versions were not possible. In 2012, approximately 2500 technical product pages were produced. Up to now, we have five language versions in German, English, Spanish, French and Italian.

The objective was to increase the level of catalogue automation to such an extent that in the foreseeable future, we could even more dynamically address requirements made on catalogues and the wishes of the sales organizations in the individual language regions. All languages stored in the PIM system can now be individually called up. By late 2012, that was 14 different languages.

Language Diversity

Pro Sprache und Katalogkapitel wird eine Print-XML aus dem PIM-System exportiert und in InBetween eingelesen. Dort wird dafür jeweils eine InDesign-Datei erstellt. Defaultsprache für die Templateerstellung ist Deutsch oder Spanisch. In der Zwischenzeit startet die Übersetzung über das PIM-System. Gerade bei der Erstellung der Sprachvarianten ist eine automatisierte Katalogproduktion eine große Hilfe und eröffnet große Vorteile in puncto Geschwindigkeit.

The initial conception and creation of all catalogue templates is performed in cooperation between myview systems and Weidmüller’s catalogue editorial department. To this purpose, intelligent configuration solutions for mapping complex data structures on the catalogue pages were developed. Following the introductory training provided by InBetween, the team at Weidmüller could already create the first catalogue templates. In the introductory stage, they were further supported by InBetween’s partner, myview systems, who has accompanied data organization and catalogue production for many years. For quite some time now, the Weidmüller employees independently create all InBetween templates.

Rapid Processing

The product information is automatically exported via the finished InBetween Templates. Thus at a very early stage in the production process, a completed catalogue is already available in German, which can be maintained. A distinctive feature is the InBetween URL generator. It enables Product Management staff members to receive an updated preview for the automated pages of all standard catalogues as a PDF or HQPDF file. In the HQPDF format, the PDF pages are generated via the InDesign server and thus correspond one-to-one to the exports of the catalogue editorial department. Product managers can thus use the previews to identify and correct errors immediately after the data has been entered. In this respect, it is a very important control medium applied directly in the data maintenance phase and production. Hyperlinks for PDF and HQPDF generation with the corresponding parameters for the ULR generator are stored in the product database under the individual chapters of the respective catalogue structures.

In principle, the catalogue is subsequently finished, apart from simple corrections such as manually optimizing line breaks in the language versions or correcting translation errors. Up to now, only pages with technical contents such as technical data, order numbers and accessories have been automated. Therefore, the automated pages can only be merged with the manual pages in the pre-press stage. In the near future, the degree of automation will be increased stepwise, with the objective of integrating manual pages like, for example, the cover or index, etc., more efficiently into the pages automatically generated via the PIM system and the InBetween client/server architecture.



Customer Information Made Easy

Selmar Kix, Director of Online and Print Media at Weidmüller, explains why automated catalogue production is the key to target group specific communication. .

How does this user-friendly approach influence catalogue design? 

We have to meet the needs of very different customer groups. The interplay with a continuously growing product portfolio, results in a sizeable collection of product information and product overviews. We therefore try to arrange the information as clearly as is possible, by combining properties.
Deshalb versuchen wir, die Informationen so übersichtlich wie möglich anzuordnen, indem wir Associated products are recognized as being accessories. Product groups that supplement each other, are consecutively sorted and stored in chapters. Images and tables are so designed that when turning the pages, they are invariably found at the same expected place. In each chapter, the customer is furthermore provided with in-depth information in regard to the contents. On the whole, customers see at the first glance, what they can expect on the next pages.

And what can customers expect in your standard catalogues?

With more than 60,000 products featuring up to 3,500 different properties, not all information can be presented in a product catalogue. The initial step is deciding on which product properties are so important to customers or for the purchase decision process that they should be found in the catalogue. The further product information is managed in the online publications. The print catalogues, with up to 750 pages, are still quite comprehensive and contain all relevant product properties, as well as significant additional information. In the long run, customers favor print catalogues as the most important communication medium.

In your catalogues, each product sector has an individual layout. At the same time, you mention a very comprehensive product portfolio, which should be presented each year in the print catalogues. In view of this complex initial situation, is it even possible to sensibly automate catalogue production? 

Quite the contrary, without automation, such complex data can neither be reproduced fast enough, nor to such an extent nor in so many different languages in print catalogues. What makes the client/server architecture from InBetween stand out, is moreover that the solution is flexible enough, to dynamically deal with the actual product line diversity and thus also with the product catalogues. We are not restricted by all too many technical obstacles in view of the layout. In fact, our goal is therefore to increase the degree of automation even further.


Weidmüller sets standards in Industrial Connectivity.

Weidmüller (Headquarters in Detmold) is amongst the leading providers of solutions for electronic connection, transmission, conditioning and processing of energy, signals and data in the industrial environment. By developing innovative, sustainable and value-added solutions for individual requirements, the company sets standards in Industrial Connectivity.
Weidmüller is internationally at home in innumerable branches such as mechanical engineering, process and energy branches, equipment manufacturers, as well as the building infrastructure and traffic technology industries, and are familiar with the technological challenges of tomorrow.
The corporate group Weidmüller has production plants, sales companies and representatives in more the 80 countries. In the fiscal year 2011, Weidmüller achieved a turnover of 620 million euros, with approximately 4,400 employees.