Dr. Wolfgang Wilkes

Dr. Wolfgang Wilkes

Jens Bröking

Dipl.-Inf. Jens Bröking

Semaino was founded in 2002 by the current owners and managing directors Jens Bröking and Dr. Wolfgang Wilkes. The new company was an outcome of two EU funded projects, CIREP (Component Information Representation – European Project) and MERCI (Management, Exchange, and Representation of Component Information). Both projects developed mechanisms for product data exchange in the semi-conductor industry. Both projects worked closely together with standards like RosettaNet, IEC 61360, the provider of the online dictionary of electric components at iec.cdd.ch, and PLIB (ISO 13584), the underlying data model of eCl@ss.

Based on the experiences from these projects, the software ecatDesigner was developed. It serves as a “marshalling yard” for combining data from different sources to catalogs in various formats and organized according to various classification systems. Today, many companies use the ecatDesigner to generate integrated electronic catalogs and exchange files from the data in their PIM systems, their ERP systems or other systems and databases – tailored to the need of their customers.

Many of our customers used our tool to create electronic catalogs for the first time. It turned out that there is a big difference between a print catalog for humans and an electronic catalog for machines and software systems. Humans can live with different representations of data, with some looseness, and they like illustrations rather than detailed data. The opposite is true for electronic catalogs: They have to follow standards, they have to be precise, and illustrations may be generated from data but they should not replace data. And therefore, the production of electronic catalogs requires different and more granular product data. If this data is not available in the database of the company then the catalogs cannot have the expected quality.

Thus, in many cases the use of the ecatDesigner disclosed some problems in the available data sources. This normally leads to efforts for improving the data quality in the company data. With our knowledge of formats, classifications, and requirements of receiving systems, we supported many of our customers in organizing their data and defining appropriate data processes. Making the internal data landscape and processes fit for electronic communication is the basis for automation of communication, for company-spanning processes, and for participation in upcoming scenarios of smart manufacturing and BIM.

Based on these experiences we nowadays offer consultation and services for our customers, ranging from accompanying data quality processes up to performing all tasks necessary for the generation of catalogs like mapping, definition of catalog configurations and testing and communication with catalog recipients. This experience also triggered the implementation of data quality checks in our tools.

Whereas in the early years of Semaino, electronic data exchange was quite limited and often done based on projects rather than on standards, this has changed in the last couple of years. Now many companies get lots of electronic catalogs from many of their suppliers, and they are faced with the problem to integrate this data into their systems, may it be ERP or PIM systems. The problem: Different suppliers use different formats, different classifications, and sometimes their specific structuring of data. The ecatDesigner transforms the company internal data into catalogs – here we have to transform catalogs into internal data. After many talks with our customers, it turned out that in addition to a mapping of external catalogs to internal data structures a lot of rules, approval processes and feedback methods to the suppliers are required.

The Onboarding tool mirrors all this experience. It allows companies to import product data from their suppliers into their systems. Tailored import processes can be defined which contain e.g. quality checks of supplier data connected to feedback loops with the suppliers, mappings of the supplier data to internal data structures, rules defining which data is how to import into existing systems, etc. Thus, the customer defines his approval process, and the Onboarding tool implements and monitors the execution of the process.

From the beginning, Semaino was active in the standardization projects and organizations. We are convinced that data exchange between systems can only be done based on standards. Currently, we are working closely together with the eCl@ss organization on various issues, and we are active on DIN, CEN and ISO level in the area of standardized property definitions in the context of BIM and VDI 3805.

In the meantime, Semaino has grown to a team of 10 people who see themselves as experts for product data exchange. Many partners like viaMedici, ContentServe, Apollon and other PIM vendors use the tools Semaino has developed to provide solutions in the area of electronic product data exchange.