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PDF/A conversion with OCR recognition for Volkswagen Foundation’s document management

Application requirements

The Volkswagen Foundation had numerous different types of PDF and office documents, images and emails stored in their previous document management system (DMS). For the future, all image and PDF documents should be converted into the standardized long-term archiving format PDF/A. The software products needed to achieve this should work in the background and monitor network folders that have been configured as UNC paths.

In addition to the conversion, OCR recognition should be performed on the documents. After testing several products from different suppliers, the decision was taken to implement the 3-Heights® products from PDF Tools AG. The critical deciding factor was the German-language support, which was provided in word and deed before the first product was even purchased. Further criteria were the attractive cost/value ratio and runtime stability.

Customer benefits

By integrating the 3-Heights® components, the Volkswagen Foundation achieved a standardization of the different PDF variants in their DMS. As well, the conversion of different image formats into full-text indexed PDF documents is possible.

By implementing the ISO standard format PDF/A for the long-term archiving of electronic documents, the Volkswagen Foundation has decided on an internationally recognized standard that is especially suited for archiving requirements.

As a result of these measures, the handling of the archiving system has been dramatically improved for the employees of the Volkswagen Foundation. In the first year alone more than 1.2 million pages were processed by this means, tendency rising.


The project was implemented by the Volkswagen Foundation themselves. Additionally, an import/export tool was ordered from the DMS supplier “Optimal-Systems“. The PDF Tools AG products were installed and configured on a separate server. The services that monitor the UNC path were started with the necessary access rights. The import/export tool exports the files from the DMS into a UNC path; after conversion to PDF/A the tool imports the files back in again. Since this is not a time critical process, the import and export are time-controlled.
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Customer statements

“The products in place work as independent services in our environment, requiring little administrative effort. Our expectations in the 3-Heights® products from PDF Tools AG were completely fulfilled. Their outstanding and quick support is especially worth mentioning.”

Georg Brünig,
Network Administrator, Volkswagen Foundation

Brief portrait of Volkswagen Foundation

Other than the name may suggest, the Volkswagen Foundation (VolkswagenStiftung) is not a business foundation but rather a privately-owned independent charity based in Hannover. With a working capital of around 100 million euros per year, the Volkswagen Foundation is the largest private German knowledge foundation and one of the largest foundations overall in Germany. Their grants are provided from the foundation’s capital, which currently stands at about 2.4 billion euros. Thanks to their financial security, the foundation is autonomous and independent in their decisions.