Harmonized Technical Communication at WEINIG

Published: 2023-04-13 Updated: 2023-11-16

Numerous products, several services, widely spread markets, and international locations – all these are signs of a successful company. From the perspective of the technical writing department, these are also signs of a complex set of challenges. How do you create documentation, especially operating instructions, from a single source with efficient processes under these conditions? Tobias Klein from the WEINIG Group took on this task and showed us how technical writers can create forward-looking documentation with ST4.

The WEINIG Group – Success with wood

The WEINIG Group from Tauberbischofsheim is one of the many hidden champions in Germany. It is the world's largest supplier of machines and systems for solid wood processing, and also has a division that is active in the engineered wood sector. WEINIG covers the entire process chain of wood processing and offers software solutions for efficient analysis and control of woodworking processes.

Around 2000 people employed in 19 branches across 12 countries generate an annual turnover of 490 million euros. A team of 10 to 15 technical writers works on all tasks relating to technical documentation in the WEINIG Group in several locations.

Complex requirements – One CCMS!

The digital transformation is subject to several requirements. One of these is intelligent information. Intelligent information enables smart processes without media disruption and redundant localization. It is subject to the single source principle, adaptable in real time, and specific. It can be selectively controlled by users and offers context in every application scenario. When is a repair necessary? Which spare parts are required for this? How is removal and installation carried out? Which operating medium is required?

Complex requirements for companies like WEINIG, especially in technical documentation, arise here because information without metadata is not intelligent. Furthermore, solid and security-oriented texts must be brought together with new forms of presentation, e.g., on the machine display. Many product lines, even more numerous variants, and teams at different locations pose additional challenges. Machines and systems need to be described in a modular and specific way, and the information must be correctly classified with metadata.

Many advantages result from the digital transformation of the technical writing department: reduction of translation costs, time saved on information maintenance and order processing, as well as the quality of information being supplied from a single source. However, these advantages are often secondary, given the new possibilities in the context of content delivery and the digital twin.

It was therefore clear for the technical writing department at WEINIG that the previous workflow with DTP software was not sufficiently future-proof. Not only did this result in high costs for a uniform layout and for translations, but DTP software was also unable to meet the many requirements that the company’s digital strategy entailed. The answer to the question was obvious: a high-performance component content management system (CCMS) should become the backbone of the future technical writing landscape at WEINIG. After thorough market research, SCHEMA ST4 became the clear choice.

Implementation – Groundbreaking

In order to roll out the new content management system across the entire company, the WEINIG Group appointed a project manager/product owner and set up a team of 8 technical writers who would each devote 50% of their time to the project.  The planned time horizon was two years, 12 months of which were intended for the analysis and preliminary planning and another 12 months for the implementation of SCHEMA ST4 with previously defined pilots, i.e., the first operating instructions in the new system.

Two years is a window that seems quite generous at first glance. Alongside the implementation of the system and the migration of pilots, a comprehensive additional program was planned. It was necessary to create a metadata concept based on iiRDS that clearly maps all products, functions, properties, and product life cycles. A new editorial standard with an accompanying style guide had to be defined. The terminology had to be checked, adapted, and integrated into the new system environment. Workflows for releases and translations were also defined. And all this in a cloud-based environment that offers additional flexibility for collaboration.

By Q1/2023, many of the project’s goals had already been achieved. There are even new ideas and suggestions for improvement to optimize processes and the database already.