ottobock – The User-Friendly Instruction Manual

by Adalbert Nübling

In this article you will read about the challenges faced by ottobock, one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, and how they established a process to produce individual, product-specific manuals. In addition, ottobock significantly reduced the cost of printing manuals and made it possible to produce order-specific manuals in all languages ordered.

The initial situation:

Wheelchairs consist of a large number of components and functions, which are individually assembled for the respective requirements of the patient.elvis_fragezeichen-144x300 ottobock - The User-Friendly Instruction Manual However, up to now it has not been possible to supply individual manuals for these specially designed wheelchairs. Rather, the instructions for use always contained a description of all potentially possible components instead of limiting themselves to the functions built into the wheelchair. This led to confusion for the customer and the specialist employees and at the same time to unnecessarily high printing costs.

The manuals have been translated into a limited number of languages. Manuals in other languages could only be produced on request. In some cases, the corresponding manuals were not available at the time of production, which made the production process and delivery of the wheelchairs inflexible. The instructions themselves were printed by an external printer, which resulted in high printing costs. Since a large number of instructions were always in stock, this also led to high internal storage costs. Overall, this process involved a large number of employees, making it inflexible, time-consuming, expensive and error-prone. Ottobock was therefore looking for a partner to comprehensively optimize this process.

The goals:

  • Establishment of a process to create product-specific or individual instruction manuals
  • Reduce the cost of manual printing
  • The creation of the possibility to order-bound manuals in the in all ordered languages, and in all ordered languages
  • No need to store instructions for use in stock

The solution: Individualized manual per pushing a button

The customer’s order is stored in the SAP system by ottobock as a sales order. One or more production orders are derived from this sales order. The integration of the SEAL System solution takes place in connection with the print output of the production order. It is used as a trigger for the determination of the information for the documentation creation.

drucker_grins2-Kopie2-300x212 ottobock - The User-Friendly Instruction Manual

The relevant information is determined in a customer-specific user exit. For the documentation creation metadata as well as classification values of materials are determined and stored in the Document Distribution Director (DDD) of SEAL Systems as an order. The DDD is the cockpit for the document and information distribution for SAP by SEAL Systems. The order in the DDD serves as a bracket around the determined information and additionally as control instance for the employees of ottobock.

Once all information is collected, it is transferred via interface to the Digital Process Factory® (DPF) from SEAL Systems. The DPF processes the data and makes it available to the editorial system SCHEMA ST4 2017 via the standard interface CMS-CONNECT. SCHEMA ST4 2017 generates the instructions for use as PDF files from the transferred data and transfers them to the DPF. The DPF copies the PDF files to a print directory on the network drive. The directory is monitored by a printer which prints the documents.

In addition, the DPF starts an upload process of the PDF files for the suitable production order in SAP. The finished instruction manual is stored on the production order as a GOS object link and is therefore available in the SAP system at any time in case of queries.

The current process:

  1. The end customer configures his personal wheelchair via an Internet portal
  2. The data is automatically transferred to SAP
  3. From the customer’s order a sales order is generated in the ottobock system. This becomes the production order during the process.
  4. Release of the production order for printing, start of the automated data determination and creation of a SEAL output order in the SEAL Document Distribution Director
  5. Sample-like visual inspection of the SEAL DDD order and output/data transfer to the SEAL DPF
    elvis_ausrufezeichen-161x300 ottobock - The User-Friendly Instruction Manual
  6. Data preparation by the DPF and transfer via CMS-CONNECT to SCHEMA ST4 2017
  7. Creation of the instructions for use as PDF files in the desired languages for the end customer and the specialist dealer of the individual wheelchair
  8. Printing of the finished instructions for use by a printer in the production area
  9. Storage/object link of manuals in SAP to the production order by the DPF

The benefit:

The desired goals were achieved entirely. Every customer now receives a user manual tailored to his individual product. This provides clarity for staff and end users and at the same time reduces printing costs. Since manuals can now be produced together with the production order and printed in-house, there is no need for warehousing or external printers. The customer can therefore easily order instruction manuals in all common languages. There are now significantly less employees involved in the process, so that the resources that were tied up can be used elsewhere.

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