MAN Nutzfahrzeuge invested in output and print management by UniSpool

MAN Nutzfahrzeuge is an automotive company with 31,500 employees in nine countries. It produces 55,000 trucks and 5,500 buses a year. The company has a turnover of around 8 billion Euros. In practice, a relatively large portion of the company’s total IT costs (contracted to T-Systems) is spent on operating and maintaining an output and printing infrastructure. More and more companies strive to reduce direct costs related to the output infrastructure and its day-to-day management and maintenance. According to calculations made by IDC, half of all help-desk calls are related to output and printing problems.

Hidden losses

Many companies, especially those with an IT environment for more than 1,000 employees, are not sufficiently aware of the hidden productivity losses they incur due to output systems and printers not operating efficiently, or rather, the output and printing process and related management environment not functioning efficiently. A varied output stream and a wide range of different printers call for software providing efficient management of all the output streams. The incorrect routing of output streams (data, documents, emails, faxes, etc.) and problems that are not detected quickly enough can lead to outages of production processes. For example, a work planner may not be able to make a paper copy of the working drawings or it may not be possible to print an order list. Efficiency is constantly being eroded. At MAN this can lead to parts not being available on-site at the right time and production lines being shut down.

Business documents

MAN reached the conclusion that the output and print management system suffered from precisely these symptoms. The company sought a solution to the seriously inadequate output and print management at its large production sites in Augsburg, Germany, and several other countries. MAN’s information systems and business applications are largely standardized with ERP systems by SAP. A total of more than 80 different SAP systems are in operation at the company. These applications send output to roughly 6,500 printers and printing systems and this number is expected to grow to around 13,000. Currently, MAN uses the combined output and print system UniSpool (from Holland House) and PrinTaurus (from AKI). These systems process a great number of business documents from salary slips to invoices, but also work orders that are critical to operations and metal tags with unique identification data that are attached to each assembled vehicle. More than 6,000 of these tags are printed every month. Buses and trucks cannot be delivered without them and any interruption in this specific output process would have serious consequences for MAN.

Intelligent output

An important cause of the deficiencies in the output and print management process at MAN was the fact that several different output management systems were being used that did not work together well. This presented an obstacle to achieving uniform output processing and print management. Additionally, the costs of the enterprisewide output activities could not be made transparent. Setting up a standardized infrastructure for output processing and printing was, therefore, one of the most important objectives when MAN initiated the ‘Intelligent Output’ project. A further objective was to reduce the complexity of the output chain and improve the security level of the chain. At the same time, MAN formulated requirements for printing of documents to meet the needs of a large international enterprise:

  • Every document can be printed at any time on any printer;
  • Support for all European languages (including Turkish and Cyrillic) as well as Chinese, Japanese and Korean;
  • It must be possible to quickly replace printers at any time;
  • The ‘corporate identity’ must be the same on all forms of output and on every printer, but also if the output takes the form of a web page, email, fax or archive;
  • Secure processing must be guaranteed.

MAN surveyed the market for the best solutions for the standardization of the output and printing environments. The objects were the following:

  • Develop a unique, global strategy for output and print management;
  • Develop a standardized system for output processing;
  • Implement a single “point of control”;
  • Reduce the overall costs of the output and print management process;
  • Create transparency in the costs of output and printing.

It quickly became evident that the UniSpool solution from Holland House (a subsidiary of the Solipsis Group) combined with the PrinTaurus solution by AKI offered the best results. This solution unifies the Microsoft, UNIX and SAP platforms. MAN’s conclusion was that there are not many solutions that are able to manage and control a very large number of diverse printers. For example, consider the provision of an interface between the SAP systems and the output processes. Additionally, the UniSpool + PrinTaurus combination enabled MAN to flexibly define the distribution properties of various business applications. In other words, the output will always be produced according to the specified procedures despite complex routing and document handling and by whatever channel used.

Return on investment

According to MAN’s calculations, the innovative, intelligent output system has led to a 35% reduction in the number of management interventions. Together with the improved productivity, the total savings are estimated to be between 700,000 and a million Euros per year. This means that the truck and bus manufacturer’s investment will have paid for itself within a year. But the system also offers much more than cost savings. Important business processes at MAN are supported by (internal and external) documents and reports. The efficient and timely supply of these documents is essential for these business processes and MAN has now ensured this. The continuing production of documents and output to the web or storage in archives is guaranteed. While other companies do not realize that output processing and printing is one of their critical business processes, MAN made a timely investment in standardized output and print management solutions.

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