Rehau AG & Co.
Secure and convenient printing
from the SAP system
For energy-efficient construction, the use of renewable energies and water management, as well as for mobility and future living, REHAU initiates sustainable contributions to solving tomorrow’s ecological and economic challenges. Expertise and innovative spirit have made the company the leading system and service provider of polymer-based solutions in the construction, automotive and industrial sectors. A passion for the fascinating, unlimited potential benefits of polymer materials is a basic prerequisite for REHAU to be successful as a leading premium brand worldwide. More than 18,000 employees around the globe achieve growth and success for REHAU at over 170 locations.
- Sector Plastic processing
- Task Output management for print jobs, central printer monitoring
- Top challenge Joint printer management across different platforms
- SolutionAKI PrinTaurus Commander, UniSpool and QSynchronizer
- Top benefit Simple, central printer management also for SAP; no more lost printouts; send printouts as PDF email attachments via script
Printers are extremely important at REHAU for production control, among other things; for example, delivery notes, parts lists and loading lists have to be printed out for the haulage companies. “If the printers don’t work properly, the trucks stand in our yard and don’t know what to load. Of course, this must not happen,” explains Dieter Kochut, Senior Engineer Corporate IT-Infrastructure at REHAU. “We work for the automotive industry and deliver just-in-time and just-in-sequence, so the latency times are very tight.” If the printer landscape causes trouble, major problems are pre-programmed.
Currently, REHAU runs more than 1,500 printers from one main supplier and various other manufacturers – but for the future, the company plans to consolidate the printer landscape and switch to larger multifunction devices. The polymer specialist needs about 30 million sheets of paper per year for printing and copying. “This ranges from normal office printing to SAP and printing from the host environment,” says Kochut.
Due to the high importance, REHAU wanted to install a professional print management system. This was because the Windows print cluster used was simply too time-consuming to handle in terms of printer management. In addition, the system did not offer any monitoring functions. “We were looking for a way to optimise the handling of problems with printouts – when a requested printout was not printed out,” explains the IT expert.
In addition, other functions such as moving spool files between printers were also desired. In addition, the solution had to be able to convert print files to PDF and then send them by email.
At REHAU, the spool output comes from a wide variety of source systems – Host, Windows and SAP. Accordingly, the new spooling system had to be able to process all these print data streams correctly. In a selection process, output management systems from various suppliers were examined. “Four solutions were completely oversized for our needs ‑that was not interesting for us,” recalls Kochut.
The intelligent print management solution PrinTaurus from AKI, on the other hand, convinced us with its diverse functions and its modular structure – it can be freely assembled as needed. PrinTaurus works across manufacturers and ensures economic, convenient and secure printing in printer landscapes of all sizes. The PrinTaurus Commander acts as the control centre and single point of control. It enables easy administration of the printer network with an intuitive graphical user interface. “The desire for an easy-to-use interface for monitoring and defining printers in the Windows environment and for spool management were decisive factors in our decision to use PrinTaurus and the UniSpool and QSynchronizer modules.”
UniSpool is a UNIX-based management tool for managing print servers, printers, print files and users for SAP and UNIX systems. The solution reduces the manual administration effort, enables smooth processes as well as permanent control and has a sophisticated Graphical User Interface (GUI). The module’s range of functions can be expanded considerably with scripts.
The QSynchronizer provides an overview of the entire SAP printing environment. Conflicts with incorrectly defined output devices are displayed in different views and can be resolved consistently across systems with intuitively structured wizards. In addition, the module identifies “printer corpses” and provides information on how to remove them. Using multiple selections, mass changes to parameters can be implemented within a very short time. Using the copy & paste function, entire print environments of an SAP application can be conveniently distributed to other SAP instances – even retrospectively.
After the decision was made in favour of AKI, the project was quickly implemented: “The implementation of the AKI products went smoothly,” recalls Kochut. “There were no problems at all. Although some of the scripting was quite demanding, it was implemented so well by AKI that the scripts are still running today – virtually without any change.”
After the implementation, an introductory workshop was sufficient to get started; in the meantime Kochut trains the colleagues himself if necessary … With PrinTaurus and UniSpool, REHAU monitors two spool systems and configures printers in the SAP systems. Around 1,200 printers are defined in each of the two Windows 2008 spoolers; the QSynchronizer is used for printer definition in eight SAP systems.
Since the commissioning of the AKI solution, the printer management runs like clockwork. “PrinTaurus offers the user what Windows cannot, but the administrator urgently needs!”, explains the senior engineer. If a printout does not arrive in the output tray as desired, the administrators can identify problems directly and fix them with the help of intuitive wizards. No more printouts are lost. However, the IT expert particularly likes the possibilities for printing from the ERP system: “The SAP interface is a huge relief. Anyone who has ever had to create printers under SAP in different system landscapes knows what an effort that is. With AKI, I can duplicate a printer in an entire landscape with a mouse click and a few settings. That saves a tremendous amount of work.”
In addition, REHAU uses special scripts for UniSpool. “We have noticed that many of our customers (internal as well as external) no longer need or want printouts in paper form, and instead prefer to receive the information digitally as a PDF attachment in an email. We have adapted our systems to this. Using scripts, we can now control from within the programmes whether a customer receives a physical printout or an email with a PDF attachment. UniSpool converts the print job into a PDF and reads the email address from the print pool. Then the email is automatically sent to the recipient. UniSpool has thus become a central ‘data hub’ for us. The module really works excellently – thousands of mails are generated and sent every day this way.”
Just by switching from print output to PDF mail attachments, REHAU was able to save several thousand printed pages per month. This means that the AKI solution has paid for itself within a very short time. All in all, the decision for the PrinTaurus was a bull’s eye: “The solution goes far beyond the possibilities offered by operating systems – for example in terms of moving, repeating or archiving prints. We are also very satisfied with the monitoring. Today, we control our entire print output from the various systems via PrinTaurus.”
Kochut sums up: “PrinTaurus has become indispensable in operating – especially in the printer management of the SAP environment. In addition, the support from AKI works very well. If we need support – for example with changes to the scripts or with updates – there is always a contact person available immediately. That works really well.”
AKI PrinTaurus and UniSpool
- Single Point of Control
- Management of print servers, queues, ports and drivers
- Easy configuration of many printers/queues, ports, including manual driver management
- Open interfaces before and after printing to edit print files
- Convenient printer management for SAP and UNIX including spooling system
- Clearly structured graphical user interface
- Practical additional functions thanks to well thought-out scripts
- Central monitoring across locations and operating systems
- Easily create and duplicate printer configurations under SAP
- Conflicts with incorrectly defined output devices are immediately displayed
- Intuitive to use wizards
- Mass changes of parameters in the shortest possible time thanks to multiple selections
- Highest print performance and reliability
- Easy management
- Single point of control – central administration of the printer network with intuitive graphical interface
- Quick, straightforward drag-and-drop intervention for printing problems
- Saving costs, time and nerves