The Single Source of Truth at Bühler

Published: 2022-06-22 Updated: 2023-02-27

Bühler goes back a long way – to 1860 to be precise, the year the company was founded in Uzwil in Switzerland. Today, Bühler is a dynamic and innovative company that can be found on three continents and in more than 140 countries. Bühler is market leader in many sectors and sets standards with its process solutions in food technology, as it does with its pressure diecasting components for automotive manufacturing. A dynamic enterprise with sustainability close to its heart. A company that has learned to master complexity and use digitalization to make its manufacturing and production processes more transparent.

The Single Source of Truth at Bühler

Complexity and transparency are also the two keywords that energize the technical writers at Bühler, as even they are distributed across sites in America, Europe, and Asia. But what is even more widely distributed is the relevant data that the technical writers have to grapple with every day. This crucial information was once spread across a whole range of different systems in the company's various departments, which didn't necessarily help Bühler and its technical writers achieve their ambitious objective: to provide every piece of information quickly and accurately to every customer.

The problem that the technical writers at Bühler had to contend with was therefore multi-faceted. On the one hand, it was frequently not apparent where to find a particular piece of information. If the information was duplicated across several sites, there were often inconsistencies between the various sources. And again, it was not clear which version was the correct one. Once the information had been located and its accuracy verified, then it usually had to be entered into the content management system manually: an expensive and time-consuming process that was also very error-prone. And last but not least, the original data sources were not updated with the assiduously collected correct data. Errors or outdated information remained and had to be clarified again during the next updating cycle.

The challenges were therefore all too clear. But how can a Gordian knot of unconnected data sources, the manual transfer of information, and the lack of a way to continually improve data quality be unraveled? Bühler very quickly realized that the solution was to introduce SCHEMA ST4 as its content management system. This tried-and-tested component content management system (CCMS) comes as standard with everything needed to speed up the work of technical writers, automate process steps, and eliminate unnecessary manual work. But this, of course, is only half the story. What if the content management system just becomes yet another stand-alone solution within the company? This is where the fact that the SCHEMA ST4 CCMS already has a large number of interfaces and connectivity options proved to be a huge advantage. Technical writers are able to connect automatically to SAP and the automation, translation memory, and Windchill databases. The content management system offers a large number of integrated functions and connectivity interfaces for terminology management, translation processes, and controlled language. The Workflow and Automation modules in SCHEMA ST4 simplify many processes, while the release and version management mechanisms of the authoring environment provide a constant overview of whether information is up to date, under review, or outdated.

The introduction of the SCHEMA ST4 content management system has enabled the technical writing team at Bühler to become the single source of truth within the company, i.e., the source of all its data, a place where it is guaranteed that the information has been examined and validated. This means no special extra effort for the technical writing team itself, as this examination should already have been carried out when the documentation was created. The only difference is that the results of the clarification process find their way back into the company: perhaps via automatic interfaces to the PIM and other data management systems, or through the automated creation of content for the many Bühler departments, such as Purchasing, Engineering, and Sales, or for internal training courses.

Beside the greater reliability of the authoring process and the avoidance of additional manual operations, there is another welcome side effect for the technical writers at Bühler: the work and intrinsic value of the technical writing department is more appreciated within the company, the contribution the department makes as a value driver for Bühler is greatly increased and is noticed by management. A solid basis for the next innovation if the technical writing team at Bühler is called on to support, for example, the onboarding process or press ahead with the digitalization of the company with the digital information twin.