When the fax beeps – automated processes despite outdated technology


You think the fax is dead? Far from it. Faxes are still sent today, for example to place orders. What seems absolutely anachronistic due to advancing digitisation still remains a reality in many companies. This also applies to a large group of food retailers. Here, various products are sent to suppliers by fax using a standardised order form. Although faxes can nowadays be received and sent digitally by e-mail through the use of fax software, there still is the problem that the data has to be transferred manually into the ERP. This was also the case with our customer 3Bears, a start-up for healthy porridge products known from the show “Die Höhle der Löwen”.

At 3Bears, the orders from the food retailer association are received by fax, as already mentioned, converted into a PDF by fax software and then forwarded to the appropriate recipient by email. The recipient then enters the order into xentral’s ERP system and creates an order. This is how the process looked until very recently. A process that took up unnecessary time and had to be changed.

A cloud-based OCR solution for automated processes

We at ruhr.agency were given the task of automating the process and developed a scriptas a result. What is special about this script? It is based on OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and automatically reads text fields contained in PDFs or images. However, the key to success of such process automation is not the extraction of data by itself. What is important is that the relevant data is read out and that it follows a certain structure and can thus also be assigned and further processed. Our specially developed script was programmed specifically for the food retailer and from now on ensures that an order is generated directly in xentral ERP from the incoming order at 3Bears.

The solution we developed for 3Bears is based on OCR technology and is serverless, cost-effective and cloud-based and hosted in Amazon Webservices (AWS). This in turn ensures high scalability and low maintenance. Technically, the script is automatically activated when a new fax email is received and first reads an attached PDF or image file. It then extracts the text data contained, validates it and further processes it. During this process, predefined information such as order date, GLN and delivery address of the customer, order items with quantity and article number or EAN are read out and transmitted to the xentral API in such a way that a new order is automatically created. The special feature: Our script also takes into account customer-specific discounts and payment terms.

Once the order has been created in the ERP system, it only needs to be checked and released by an employee. Of course, if necessary, changes can be made at this point if information is missing or incorrect.


This example shows how useful process automation with the help of scripts can be. Tedious, manual work is eliminated and, on the other hand, error tolerance is reduced because data is automatically validated. This solution can of course be transferred to other processes. If you are also struggling with processes that hinder or slow down your daily work, simply contact us – we will also find a suitable solution for you.