40,000 figures from the AS/400 to the print
Österreichische Apotheker-Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
The business areas of the Vienna based Österreichische Apotheker-Verlagsgesellschaft mbH cover on the one hand the publication of IT programs and pharmaceutic data bases, as well as the delivery of consumable articles to the pharmacies. On the other hand the publishing house produces various publications such as the Austrian Apothekerzeitung and diverse pharmaceutic literature. Among them also the Austria-Codex-Fachinformation, the list of substances and the classified index of pharmaceutical products as well as ready reckoners and taxes for the pharmacies.
In the course of the change over to a Y2K secure software for the data management of all pharmaceutic products another question had to be solved, too. How could the 40,000 pharmaceutic figures from the IBM system AS/400 be still transferred into the tried and tested form of the index. One major claim was to maintain the current layout including fonts and search aids. And the massive monthly index numbering approx. 920 pages in three volumes was to be produced as cost-effectively as possible. Above all the printing costs had to be reduced, for until then every single page of the index had to be filmed at printing before it went into production: Would it be possible to print the master copies mirror-inverted on transparent foil slides and send those to printing instead of the expensive films?
The classified index of all pharmaceutical products is an indispensable standard work for pharmacies and physicians as well as the pharma industry, authorities and the wholesale. It lists such elementary information as product name, pharmaceutical form, name of the distributor, packaging sizes, ingredients and prices and is thus a daily companion especially for the more than 1,000 Austrian pharmacies, most of which are regular subscribers for the monthly print issue.
Eventually all requirements for the processing of the AS/400 data for the index were collected: the lists would have to look exactly as before the change of the application software. Relevant criteria were the font, headers and footers and the grids and bars as search aids at the page margin at the beginning of each new letter or chapter. And last but not least the whole index was to be produced as cost-effective as possible.
In order to resolve this challenge the Apotheker-Verlag opted for the software SpoolMaster. The output management system handles all issues concerning the data output from the AS/400 by reading in the spools from the AS/400 iSeries and converting them into a data format which can be understood by almost all printers. In doing so SpoolMaster processes the AS/400 data streams and merges them with electronic forms. Due to this processing the font as well as all other formatting of the index can be printed analogously to the original. In addition SpoolMaster fits in a grid so that the index remains eligible. Previously the problem of the grid had to be solved on part of the print shop: The Apotheker-Verlag used to deliver the blank products lists on white paper as a master copy - the print shop then had to overlay the grid. Finally the document was filmed and these films then went to press.
Films are expensive. This is the reason why the Apotheker-Verlag was looking for an alternative. And found it again with SpoolMaster: why not print the index mirror-inverted on transparent foil slides? Instead of delivering the master copy on paper which has to be filmed first, SpoolMaster handles the matter now. The data from the AS/400 application plus the grid are mirror-inverted and then printed on transparent foil slides. The printer automatically chooses the correct tray - an alternative tray provides white standard paper: here the printer outputs the respective control protocol in between the individual lists.
For all those who work daily with the classified index of pharmaceutical products nothing has changed - the comprehensive publication is as concise as ever. "And the high costs for the filming of the master copy have just ceased to exist since we’ve decided to print the index mirror-inverted on foils," says Christine Permoser, Head of Department Pharma Data. In order to make the process with the printing shop even more efficient, plans are to create a solely electronic solution - the index as a pdf-file: SpoolMaster converts the spool files from the AS/400 program, formats them, adds the grid and outputs them as a pdf-file. These files can then be sent to the printing shop as easily and quickly as that.