PatternStream for Manufacturing and Distribution Publishing

“Time savings and cost savings, etc.? Time and cost for me to produce a catalog using PatternStream versus the previous method isn’t an issue of time and money. Before, I couldn’t do the job; with PatternStream, I get the job done. It’s no catalog versus catalog, no tool versus good tool, mow your grass with your teeth versus mow with a 6HP John Deere.”
— Chuck Tyler
Systems Specialist
Hydraulic Supply Company

Manufacturers and distributors can product information in their databases and files. PatternStream can be used to accumulate the information from existing databases and files and create printed material and electronic media for marketing, engineering, and other product presentations to potential and existing customers. PatternStream is used by manufacturers and distributors to create:

  • Catalogs
  • Labels
  • Product specifications
  • Price lists

The following are examples of how manufacturing and distribution customers use PatternStream.

Amcor Sunclipse

Various catalogs

Amcor Sunclipse is a business unit of Amcor, a leading global packaging company with annual sales of approximately $11 billion. The company is based in Australia and has operations throughout Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas. Amcor offers a broad range of plastic, fiber, metal and glass packaging products, PET containers, plastic and metal closures, along with packaging-related services. For additional information about Amcor, please contact FML.

Amcor Sunclipse, headquartered in California, manufactures corrugated sheets and boxes, and manages a distribution business that focuses mainly on custom built corrugated packaging, but also other packaging products. The business has 14 manufacturing plants in the US – 10 sheet plants, three corrugator plants and 1 foam and wood fabrication plant, and 38 distribution centers – 34 in the US and four in Mexico. Amcor Sunclipse also provides fulfillment services for UPS.

Cox Hardware + Lumber

Annual Catalog and Monthly Circular

When Virgil Cox decided that he wanted to update his company’s product catalog, he realized he did not want to hire one or more people to produce it manually. In searching for an automated solution, he contacted several vendors. He chose PatternStream as the preferred technical approach and application and Active Lightning, an FML value-added reseller (VAR), as his developer (see also Outdoor Interactive).

The Cox Hardware + Lumber solution utilizes a custom Access database with tables dynamically linked from the company’s in-store Triad Eagle™ system. It also leverages the effort spent on their on-line iNet web catalog.

The print catalog is built as a book with prologue, table of contents listing department sections, section divider pages with table of contents for the classes in the section, patterns of product information for each product in the department (unless flag indicates not to publish), index, and appendix. Resulting PDF file for any section or the entire book is fully searchable with: a) page numbers in table of contents and index hyperlinked to actual page, and b) an automatic link to the company’s web site at the top of each page.

The header on each page includes department name and a running head with current class name. In the body, multiple products related to same photo and description are grouped automatically from data in database based on sequence code and flag for leader. Items are flagged with “New” if they were added to the database within the last 24 weeks. Other product flags are also supported. Call out boxes to highlight desired information are inserted between product patterns according to database flag and text in call out table.

The catalog was printed on an offset press. The distribution of the first printing began in November 2002. Sales results have been positive from this catalog marketing effort in a cyclic depressed Houston economy. Cox Hardware + Lumber plans to release the next issue in 2004.

After experiencing the advantages of database publishing for his product catalog, the owner of Cox Hardware + Lumber, Virgil Cox, decided to have Active Lightning develop a publishing machine for their monthly circulars. This publishing automation allows the business to:

  • get desktop publishing production done without desktop publishing production staff
  • gain even more value from the original investment in PatternStream and the Triad ODBC driver
  • manage a fast production turnaround in order to produce circulars on a monthly basis
  • coordinate the promotion with sales and inventory through the company databases

A text-builder form was added to the Access database mentioned above in order to control the content of descriptive bullets. This approach saves all the time involved in creating the document while also allowing for a dated perishable marketing message.

The product picture aligns left in some cells and aligns right in others. One or more SKU numbers (variable) are featured at the top of each product pattern. If the product has an associated call out, then 2 description bullets are not published.

The master file that results from running the PatternStream automation is copied (rather than printed offset). Labels generated from the Cox Hardware + Lumber’s customer database are then used in the address space. The publishing machine ties into the table in the Triad database that tracks promotions, and uses this table to select featured products. After the circular is released, the Triad Eagle database tracks the inventory and sales of these items. The first circular from this publishing process was delivered in August 2003.

Honeywell International, Inc.

Tradeline Catalogs

APT Solutions implemented a PatternStream-based database publishing solution to publish Honeywell International Incorporated’s Tradeline Catalogs. FML worked with PatternStream VAR APT Solutions to set up and publish catalogs for Honeywell. The publishing includes different product attributes based on customer needs and detailed information placement.

Hutton Communications, Inc.

Various catalogs

FML worked with USFI, PatternStream VAR Beige Technologies, and Hutton Communications, Inc. to set up and publish their telecommunication products catalog. The catalog is published from Hutton’s Oracle product database. Since the original set up, FML is supporting Beige Technologies maintenance and generation of new catalog products.

Hy-Capacity Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc.

Parts catalogs

APT Solutions implemented a PatternStream-based database publishing solution to publish Hy-Capacity Engineering & Manufacturing, Inc.’s parts catalogs. FML worked with PatternStream VAR APT Solutions to set up and publish catalogs for Hy-Capacity.

Hydraulic Supply Company

Hydraulic Supply Company catalog, Complete Product Listing catalog

Hydraulic Supply Company began in 1947 and has grown into one of the largest service providers and distributors of hydraulic plumbing, motors, valves, and other accessories in the southeastern United States. Twenty-four hour customer service is provided by its twenty business locations.

The Hydraulic Supply Company is using the FrameMaker/PatternStream solution to publish its ever growing catalog. Previously, they were using Corel’s Ventura version 8.0 with its database publishing application which proved to be too unreliable. They began using PatternStream in 2000 and are extremely satisfied with it.

IMI Cornelius Inc.

Various product catalogs

IMI Cornelius, a division of Britain-based IMI plc, is the world’s leading supplier of beverage dispensing equipment. The company manufactures and markets a full line of post-mix and pre-mix dispensing systems, ice machines, juice and tea dispensers, frozen carbonated beverage machines, hot beverage dispensing systems, beer dispensers and accessories. IMI Cornelius has manufacturing and sales offices in over 30 countries on five continents and employs over 3,000 people worldwide.

FML worked with PatternStream VAR Osage (now APT Solutions) to set up and publish catalogs for Cornelius. The publishing included a wide variety of product attributes based on customer needs and detailed information placement.

IPC Communication Services, Inc.

Various documents

IPC Print Services is an employee-owned manufacturing and distribution company specializing in Supply Chain Management, Printing, Data Management, CD-ROM Mastering & Replication, Assembly, Fulfillment, and Worldwide Distribution. IPC Print Services has awarded FML contracts to support a variety of catalog database publishing projects.

The McGraw Group, Inc.

The McGraw Group, Inc. Shop Catalogs (two versions; one with and one without product pricing)

The McGraw Group, Inc. (McGraw) is a distributor of industrial equipment and supplies to the manufacturing industry. Established in 1866, the company has 14 branch locations in Virginia and the Carolinas. The McGraw customer base ranges from independently owned machine shops to multi-national Fortune 500 companies.

The print database publishing project developed as McGraw decided to create an interactive Web site that would allow customers to find and buy products on the Web. The Revere Group (Charlotte, NC office — Chicago, IL headquarters) was contacted as one of the vendors that could provide a Web-based solution. However, they had no experience with database publishing to print. To fulfill this need, they contacted Adobe (San Jose) and requested the name of a vendor in North Carolina. Adobe recommended Bright Path Solutions (formerly Mallet Technology). As a result of prior work with FML, Bright Path contacted FML and a team was formed with The Revere Group to provide a combined Web and print database publishing solution.

As the Revere Group developed a Microsoft SQL Server database and interactive Web site, FML implemented a run-time version of the FrameMaker/PatternStream desktop database publishing solution. The final solution allows McGraw to present an interactive Web site and publish catalogs from the same product database.

As a result of this solution, McGraw has stopped using Microsoft Publisher to create its catalogs and now uses the FrameMaker/PatternStream solution. For the first time in its history, the company has published multiple catalogs, one with pricing information and one without and intends to create more database published products while dramatically decreasing future publishing process costs and times. The printed catalogs are McGraw’s primary source of product information dissemination and purchasing. To date, no product purchases have been made using the interactive Web site.

Outdoor Interactive

Personalized seasonal product catalogs

The President of Outdoor Interactive, James Haltiwanger, chose to publish targeted custom catalogs as a key component of his customer-focused selling strategy. His research to find the best solution led him to PatternStream and Active Lightning (see also Cox Hardware + Lumber). This choice of technology and developer made the project feasible financially and technically.

Customer purchase history and self-disclosed information are used to select the products featured in a 24-page catalog. Each catalog is built for a single particular customer. The customer’s name is featured on the cover; the customer’s address, postnet barcode, etc. is featured on the back cover so that the catalog can be easily mailed.

Products featured in the catalog come from 8 categories such as archery, camping, and hunting; the category has an associated graphic for the header at the top of the page. Database processing carries out product selection and truncation of long descriptions to deliver the appropriate information to catalog tables in a SQL Server database. A code in one of the tables specifies 1 of 5 layout types:

  • eighth of a page
  • quarter page-photo right
  • quarter page-photo top
  • half page one column, or
  • full page

Another code in the database determines if advertisements should be inserted between product patterns. Product pattern has titles, photo, description, and table of related SKU info. A letter on front inside cover can be customized for each customer. The publishing machine allows for changing the template in order to change the look for successive seasons or mailings. The status of the catalog record is updated in the database after the catalog is created.

Challenges of this project included: a) imposing catalog and b) achieving short cycle times. Usually the printer handles imposition (arrangement of pages in booklet order for each sheet of paper that goes through the press), but to cut costs and save time, a batch processing method was developed for imposing and prepress preparation so that the printer just prints the PDF file. In order to create 10,000 catalogs so that they can all be mailed within a week or two, the cycle time for the publishing machine needed to be around 1 minute.

Outdoor Interactive’s publishing project became one of several case studies for a research project at Clemson University on variable-data-printing because of PatternStream-based database publishing solution for publishing Outdoor’s product catalogs. PatternStream was chosen from the wide range of database publishing software.

Rockwell Automation

Encompass Catalog

Rockwell has vendors that supply components, equipment, and systems to numerous internal divisions. To enable internal customers to purchase the vendor-supplied materials, a web site and printed catalog is published. Vendor information is stored in an Oracle database.

FML worked with Rockwell Automation Studios to set up and publish the Encompass catalog from an Oracle database for both print and electronic distribution. The published catalog is being distributed worldwide in both print and electronic formats.


Fluka/Riedel-deHaën – Laboratory Chemical and Analysis Reagents Catalogs (English and German versions with 14 different currency variations)

Sigma-Aldrich is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of laboratory chemicals and equipment. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Sigma-Aldrich has more than 32 branches worldwide and six major brand name lines.

Working with its Chicago based database partner Flow Systems, Inc., FML successfully implemented a desktop FrameMaker/PatternStream database publishing solution to publish the Fluka/Riedel-deHaën catalog. FML modified PatternStream to incorporate required publishing functions, created the publishing pattern set templates, and implemented necessary post-processing features. Flow Systems designed and implemented the Microsoft Access database and database application for storing and maintaining Sigma-Aldrich product information.

The catalog is constructed from a database that contains more than fifty tables. Publishing requirements include two languages (English and German) and fourteen different currencies. There are several unique features inherent in the catalog:

  • Three column text flow within a two column page text flow
  • Automatic re-scaling of images
  • Two column straddle of three column text flow
  • Character codes interpretation
  • Database specified cross references
  • Continuation header
  • Automatic re-sizing of text flows


Products catalogs

SQUARE D is a market-leading brand of electrical distribution, industrial control and automation products, systems and services, and is the flagship brand in the U.S. for the North American Division of Schneider Electric. SQUARE D products are found in all types of residential, commercial and industrial construction, in a wide range of manufacturing and processing facilities, and in or on the products of other manufacturers. Schneider Electric, headquartered in Paris, France, is a global electrical industry leader with 2002 sales of approximately $9.5 billion.

SQUARE D choose FML’s PatternStream for use in publishing product information for internal and external customers.

Tessco Technologies, Inc.

Telecommunications and network products parts catalog

Tessco is one of the world’s fastest growing distributors of wireless and networking equipment. FML VARs worked with Tessco personnel to implement a FrameMaker/PatternStream database solution for their product catalog.

University of San Francisco (USF)

General Course Catalog

Founded in 1855, the University of San Francisco is a private Catholic and Jesuit University. USF is San Francisco’s largest independent university and is located on a hilltop near Golden Gate Park overlooking downtown San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.

FML developed a system that allows USF administrative personnel to collect, maintain, and publish the USF General Course Catalog. The system is comprised of an SQL Server database, a web front end to the database, and the PatternStream database publishing system. The database stores all the information necessary to publish the catalog. The web application allows USF personnel to input and maintain the catalog in the database. The PatternStream database publishing system allows users to publish sections of the catalog as PDF for print and the entire document for printing and distribution to students.


Customer catalogs

USFI provides marketing communications, information and data management, and document and forms management services to a wide range of customers. These services include the implementation of databases, content management systems, and publishing systems for catalog and collateral material publishing. FML is using PatternStream to solve USFI’s customers needs.