Kärcher, the world’s largest manufacturer of cleaning equipment, celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. Kärcher’s product range includes problem solutions for virtually any cleaning jobs. The software used to create spare parts catalogs was no longer technologically up-to-date and did not offer sufficient flexibility to be extended to an information system.
So far, their spare parts catalogs generated automatically from SAP and sent 6 times a year to approx. 2,500 dealers on several DVDs. The software architecture for the available spare parts catalog had obviously become outdated and did not provide any flexibility urgently required for further additions. Dealers demanded, amongst others, additional foreign languages, extra product information and additional functionalities. The straight forward catalog was no longer sufficient; the system had to be turned into an information portal.
Kärcher – the world’s largest manufacturer of cleaning equipment
Alfred Kärcher founded the family-run business in 1935 in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Characteristic of Alfred Kärcher were his inexhaustible urge to create, his inventive mind and his perfect solutions for technical problems. W.e.f. 1974 Kärcher developed into a provider of cleaning systems and is still setting worldwide standards. The range includes problem solutions for virtually any cleaning tasks: high pressure cleaners, Hoovers, sweepers and wipe-suction machines, car wash technology, dry ice blasters and parts cleaners as well as installations for drinking and sewage water treatment.
At present, Kärcher has subsidiaries in more than 47 countries, and more than 50,000 service stations in over 190 states, ensuring coverage worldwide.
The dealers expect that Kärcher provides an information system, which not only simplifies locating spare parts but also offers any relevant product information required. Important requirements were:
- Access entitlement: A role model controls who has access to which products and which catalog information.
- What’s New – Function: By a single click users are provided with an overview of new products included as of a certain date.
- Spare parts suggestions: If a dealer quotes a certain stock up date and the number of certain products sold, then he will receive a suggestion in respect of those spare and wear parts that he should stock up on during that time. He can manually correct this suggestion and have it placed in his shopping basket right away.
- Country-specific DVDs: In future, foreign subsidiaries should be able to use the application to select products and information relevant to them for generating their own information packages. Within the country involved these will then be distributed amongst the service stations.
- PDF „on demand“: Users will be able to generate, on the web i.e. from the DVD, PDF spare parts lists of the individual products in their own set language.
- Delta – Update der DVD: the off-line applications can be updated via an on-line update function.
Any information required for the information portal is available within SAP: Product structures, article information, spare parts graphics, additional information such as manuals, service handbooks, installation instructions, inspection check sheets, service bulletins …
On account of the numerous changes in output data, every day a complete data set of more than 7,000 products, over 2.2 Mio entries in spare parts lists and approx. 40 GByte of additional information are created. The information system is automatically produced within approximately 3 hours.
The CatExport consultation solution of SAP Consulting transfers the data straight from SAP to CATALOGcreator®. Before the data are transferred, they can still be checked on completeness and consistency.
The information system is made available both on DVD and in the internet. The shopping basket function of CATALOGcreator® is linked to KIOS, Kärcher’s – own onlineorder system.
At the moment, use of XVL-technology for 3D spare parts catalogs and animated service instructions is being tested. In future, videos and animations are to be included in the application for the support of technicians.
There is already a proto-type for descriptive documentation at assembly level. At Kärcher the manuals are produced by TIM-RS of Fischer Computer Technology and translated using SDL Trados. The aim is to jump straight from the spare parts to the equivalent paragraphs of the documentation including e.g. disassembly instructions, safety instructions or adjustment instructions.
Within a short period of time a fully functional application was produced without any company-specific adjustments. The combination of CatExport and CATALOGcreator® works perfectly for adopting complete data from a Pool-SAP.
The following additional improvements are achieved by using TID:
- Catalog creation is fully automatic
- Kärcher no longer produces PDF spare lists, because the user can generate these from the application „on demand“. Something which significantly improved the quality and up-to-dateness of the PDF spare parts lists
- All product information is available at a glance
- Extremely user-friendly due to identical web and DVD application
- The online-update of the DVDVersion simplifies handling of the offline application
- Service engineers, foreign companies, dealers and technicians benefit from the new application
„The co-operation with TID Informatik works brilliantly. Many of our suggestions have already become standard and they can help us and CATALOGcreator® progress further. This is how one envisages a constructive on partnership based cooperation”, says Jochen Wahl, group leader of Kärcher’s technical documentation department.