Company: ActionPointCustomer: BASFSubmitted by: Byline PRBASF (www.basf.

de) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers operating in the areas of health ; nutrition, colorants ; finishing products, chemicals, plastics ; fibers and oil ; gas. Headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany, BASF group employs more than 106,000 people, located in more than 39 countries worldwide. In 1997, BASF reported sales of 55,8 million DM.BASF believes that much of its success lies in its constant striving for high levels of efficiency and effectiveness that are maintained through its extensive information and communications systems. They have a company culture that values technical innovation.

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The Problem

One of BASF’s most recent technological innovations has evolved from the need to improve the access to personnel folders of the employees of BASF Aktiengesellschaft (BASF). The Human Resources department is located at the corporate headquarters in Ludwigshafen. There are more than 300 human resources professionals that are located there, however, they are spread out over 36 separate offices.In an organization of this size, it is vital for the Human Resources (HR) department to have easy access to all of the company’s 120,000+ personnel folders. Being stored in their original paper format, personnel folders were delivered to the Human Resource professionals on a ‘first come, first served’ basis via BASF’s internal mail system. Once a folder was requested, delivery took a minimum of 24 hours and frequently longer, if the file was already in use by another HR professional.

The conversion of its employee records from paper to digital image documentation would not only mean much faster and efficient access but would also make it possible for staff at any of the HR department’s sites to access the same files simultaneously.When it comes to converting large volumes of paper-based information to document images and data, ActionPoint Inc.’s™ InputAccel is a proven, cost-effective way to add high-speed scanning, indexing, OCR or forms processing capabilities to information management applications, such as IBM VisualInfo™ system.

The Criteria

Peter Reinhardt, Project Manager at the Human Resources department of BASF in Ludwigshafen, who was in charge of selecting the new document imaging system, comments, “The employee records system was no longer as efficient or as user-friendly as it could be.” BASF had about 120,000 individual folders of active or retired employees, each containing from 20 to 200 pages.

This amounted to a total of about 6,000,000 pages of paper needing conversion.Reinhardt continues, “We, therefore, required a system which could handle the assembly and conversion of extremely large document volumes into digital images. We also wanted this information to be easily accessible, reliable and able to change and grow with us in the future.”BASF also had strict system requirements for tight integration to IBM’s VisualInfo system as well as for connectivity to Lotus Notes® and SAP® so that the IBM VisualInfo archive could be used from within both the Lotus Notes and SAP environments.Lynne Courts, InputAccel Sales, explains, “BASF needed barcode recognition via software to allow access to its employee records to be as time-saving as possible.

Documents are prepared by inserting a separator page containing a patchcode and a barcode with the personnel number between each employee folder. Within the folder the first page of each document contains a barcode. The pages are then scanned so that the InputAccel/Image Enhancement module can read the barcodes before being exported to the VisualInfo System.”

The System

The document capture system, of the HR department of BASF in Ludwigshafen, has been designed to accommodate the company’s specific needs. InputAccel, running on one server, uses the following process:• ScanKodak 500D® for high volume A4 and a Bell and Howell 5000F® for all other paper• Image EnhancementAll pages are sent to this software module for noise removal, deskew, and lines filters• ExportThe data is then exported to IBM VisualInfo, with connectivity to Lotus Notes and, via a custom program interface, also to SAP R/3.”BASF knew exactly what they were looking for and to prove we could deliver what they required, we put together a pilot system with live data,” explains Torsten Strass, Business Area Manager at SerCon, the ActionPoint Reseller involved in the project. “This demonstrated the advantages of using InputAccel and eliminated the risk factor. BASF then felt confident about the system’s capabilities and it was incredibly easy for us to install and get up and running in a short period of time.”

The Result

The conversion of its employee records from paper to digital image documentation via InputAccel has revolutionized BASF’s storage and retrieval system.

It is now possible for any of BASF’s Human Resource Professionals to simultaneously access personnel folders within seconds, regardless of whether the request to view was made via Lotus Notes, SAP R/3 or both.There were also improvements in image quality and readability. Some of the documents, ranging in size from A5 to A3, were very old or faded and many had color text on color backgrounds, which was difficult to read. With InputAccel/Image Enhancement module, the quality of the captured images was significantly improved, making them easier to read. Clean up filters used included noise removal, deskew and lines filters. The resulting black text on white background is much easier to read than the original dark blue text on a light blue background.

On the technical side, network space was saved due to InputAccel/Image Enhancement filters, which reduced image file size by 20 to 30%. Also, InputAccel offers greater system flexibility to adapt to future business requirements. The HR department’s capture process was customized for its current unique business needs and documents. Should these change, InputAccel can be quickly and easily reconfigured.


The electronic capture process is now entirely automated, delivering huge cost savings for the HR department of BASF and preventing valuable working time being lost on procedures previously carried out by hand. Only part of the document preparation process of separating the personnel folder and applying a barcode to each document is now done manually.commenting on the benefits of InputAccel, Reinhardt concludes, “InputAccel was the system most suited to high volume capture into our Document Management System, VisualInfo, and has created substantial savings and efficiency. It is now possible for the staff at multiple locations to view the same records simultaneously using their SAP R/3 or Lotus Notes applications, leading to much greater and more efficient access. InputAccel has brought us greater flexibility, increased productivity and improved accuracy, enabling us to update files immediately.”


“The HR department of BASF required a system which could handle the assembly and conversion of extremely large document volumes into digital images. We also wanted this information to be easily accessible, reliable and able to change and grow with us in the future.”Peter ReinhardtProject Manager at BASF