The input data from the customers with information such as delivery addresses are completely heterogeneous. However, you cannot force your customers to change their IT systems so that they produce a standard format, you have to cope with it.
The data come in the form of CSV or so-called fixed length files, but the internal formats can be completely different. This is where MPS DistributionDataPlanner starts working. It reads the data in and brings them into a user-defined format. If the format of the data from a particular customer is not known already, the system uses various rules to identify the data fields. It can be that a manual action is required at first, but as soon as the format has been established the reading in and normalization of the data run completely automatically.
Next the standardized data need to be enriched. The entire print run is divided into delivery positions depending on the form of distribution and the logistic channel required. Then information about any inserts and the weight of the component products is imported. The inserts can also be allocated manually.
In the next phase, titled “bundle building” in the diagram above, the data is extended with the logistic requirements. This is where the requirements of the national post office are taken account of. In Switzerland the Swiss Post has a predefined sequence of all possible addresses in the country, and the delivery addresses have to be sorted according to the list – a non-trivial job when there are several hundred thousand addresses to sort. Nevertheless MPS DistributionDataPlanner manages this in a few minutes.
Further configurable rules support the processing for other distribution channels like single sales and wholesalers.
The rules for the preparation of bundles acceptable to the post office, and also those for combining bundles into post sacks and container, are also applied at this stage. Of course the system also ensures the correct labelling on all packaging units. Sequence optimization also simplifies the later work on the delivery ramps.
Production aspects such as the delivery routes flow into the last phase, which generates the production data. In the case of Ringier Print, Adligenswil, where FERAG and SITMA mailroom equipment is in use the production data is in the form of FERAG and SITMA strings. At other sites with other mailroom equipment, e.g. from Müller Martini or Schur, the data is provided in the corresponding form.
Christophe Müller sees MPS DistributionDataPlanner as a transparent system over the whole production chain.
At the time of writing it was too early for Christophe Müller to quantify the advantages of the system, but some aspects were already clear. “When using our old system the time required for preparing a large order, that means from the importing of the data to the generation of the FERAG string, was about 3½ hours. Now we have reduced that to 1½ hours”. He has also noticed that the effort for recording production data has been significantly reduced.
The recorded actual values of the production data have a great value for Ringier Print., as Christophe Müller explains: “the recorded data are exported to SAP for the invoicing. It is also a great advantage for us to have all the data in one system. That simplifies the reuse of these data and makes it much easier for other systems to access these data.”
The complex requirements at Ringier Print Adligenswil with their large number of customers, eight different forms of distribution and at least nine different forms of transport are well covered by MPS DistributionDataPlanner, something that other printing houses have also noticed. AZ Print Mittelland Zeitungsdruck AG in Aarau, Switzerland, has also placed an order for the system.