Philips International – More than 10,000 printer devices completely under control with UniSpool

In order to put a stop to the high operational costs, intricate control and the difficult relationship with all those different printer suppliers, Philips International has made a worldwide selection for UniSpool, the output and printing management solution of Holland House (part of the Solipsis group). The result is a substantial saving of costs and control as more than 10,000 printers are now linked to the same system all over the world. The costs of management will decrease considerably due to the fact that less technical support of specialists is required as print streams no longer get stuck…

Michael Karaman is linked to T-Systems as an external output management consultant and responsible for the support and implementation of the desired solutions. Service provider T-Systems is supervising the maintenance and control of the crucial data centers of Philips International. “Philips International is a large, worldwide organisation using SAP as an ERP system in all her companies. Within SAP, there are countless ‘own’ working environments. As a result, controlling the output streams and printing from such an environment is very difficult. From different ICT infrastructures and working in SAP, large quantities of documents had to be printed on several production printers controlled from the data center. In total, this amounts to about 8 to 10 million print jobs per year. If problems occur due to the large variety of printers, formats, users and working environments, then this will cause the Philips organisation ultimately a considerable delay and a lot of money. Gradually, this turned into an impossible situation and they decided to search for one uniform solution for this output and printing management problem”.

One solution for all our problems

However, this was not quite so simple. Karaman states that the user should not notice the implementation of any solution whatsoever. It is only important for him to enter print orders without problems and that the print job is performed in accordance with the appropriate specifications. Whether this will take place via PCL, PostScript, pdf or any or other format and whether it is printed on a HP, Canon, Lenovo, Ricoh, Xerox or any other printer: it should not make any difference to the user. The files should be processed in such a way that any format “could be put in and taken out again quite easily”. There are little or no companies on the market that are able to do so. Obviously, we contacted several of our printer suppliers but they came up with solutions that were based on their own brand and that was exactly what we did not want them to do. One example is to uniformize the entire printer park to one control environment and one supplier. This would make us depend too much on one print party and, in addition to this, it would be a major destruction of capital as we are talking about more than 10,000 printers in use all around the world. We were searching for one solution for all our problems and not a solution for every problem.”
What Karaman and his colleagues were looking for was one solution that would solve all problems at once. “Those problems were the result of difficult control, high operational costs, no back-up in the production in case of malfunctions (resulting into a considerable delay). Moreover, there was little transparency in both the output process (input, distribution, output and overall process monitoring) as well as all costs involved. We were looking for a solution with which we could not only be flexible with regard to adaptations in the printer park but also regarding the costs. If we were going to use less devices in the near future, then we should be able to decrease the costs and vice versa. This means a SaaS solution with a pay-per-use model.”

Experience with UniSpool

The solution was found. In the past, Philips Lighting had already used a solution from Holland House (part of the Solipsis Group). With this solution, UniSpool, they were able to control several printers on a small scale and from different ICT environments (Linux, Windows, Unix) without any problems. In summary, UniSpool adapted all printing orders and -files in such a way that they were compatible to the device of their choice on which they should be printed. As a matter of fact, this was the solution they wanted for Philips International. Technically, a state of the art solution according to Karaman. “This has been the incentive for Philips International to start the use of UniSpool of Holland House. UniSpool has been put in the middle of the SAP working environment and the central printing environment in order to streamline all output. UniSpool is acting as a ‘spooler’, i.e. receiving print files, processing the files and subsequently sending the files to a designated printer with all specifications. As a result, every type of printer will always process the files with the appropriate specifications. If you explain it like this, it sounds very simple but believe me, technically, this is a tour de force. Practically, you create one univocal output environment by putting UniSpool between the printers and the highly varied SAP working environments of the users. The users will not notice this at all. The orders are “just” sent and the print jobs and files are forwarded to UniSpool, divided between three larges servers in a data center. UniSpool will execute all preparations for the printers and convert the files into a language the printer will understand. We refer to all the devices that are in use to send data from SAP printing orders.

Enormous profits

By creating this unique environment for processing millions of print jobs, Philips International has taken a big leap forward. Karaman: “It is my estimation that we will save costs amounting to 70% on the operational items such as control, toners, paper. I would like to emphasize that we are talking about substantial numbers here. We do not even take the reduction of costs into account as a result of less malfunctions, i.e. an improved company continuity. In order to achieve that situation, the printers only had to be configurated. UniSpool is not printing software but it is a solution processing and uniformizing extensive and complex output sources, in such a way that the production environment is continuing without any problems. That is the big advantage of UniSpool. There are no problems causing a delay in the production. We have gained insight into the total output streams, who is printing from where. In addition to this, there is a complete transparency with regard to the costs involved which is an important advantage for the management regarding cost control. However, the most important advantage is that enormous profits have been made in the field of control and company continuity. In fact, all complexity of the varied SAP working environment has dissapeared related to the output. We are able to guarantee that the output is always presented. Always, anywhere and in any required format.”

“UniSpool has been developed since 1984 and is meanwhile used worldwide in more than 200, mostly international, operating companies. For a number of these companies, we have entered into a 24/7 SLA support. So, in principle, support can be offered both day and night,” states Goossen de Bruin, Managing Director of Holland House.

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