Migrating from one software system to another can be daunting, especially when you aren’t sure the switch will drive the results you’re looking for. We recently checked in with seven of our customers to see what efficiency gains with creating and maintaining parts catalogs, growing adoption rates, and parts order increases they’ve achieved since making the switch from their old legacy systems to Documoto. Check out the infographic below for the results and customer success stories of manufacturers Arctic Cat, Atlas Copco, Hustler Turf (Excel Industries), LA Metro, Schramm, Takeuchi and Maruyama.
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While improving productivity on the manufacturing floor is often an OEM’s primary goal, many manufacturers are bringing that same scrutiny to their “upstairs factory” according to Industry Week.
As product lead times shrink, there’s more and more pressure for tech pub departments to rapidly churn out comprehensive technical documentation that’s both accurate and up-to-date.
So how can you maximize your productivity to meet these publishing targets? We’ve compiled a list of some tricks and shortcuts to help you work more efficiently and save time creating new parts books and manuals.
1. Learn Keyboard Shortcuts
Whether you use Documoto, InDesign, Word, Publisher, or FrameMaker, chances are the program you’re using to author parts catalogs has numerous keyboard shortcuts. These can shave minutes off of routine tasks by keeping your fingers on your keyboard and away from your mouse. In fact, using keyboard shortcuts can save you 8 workdays per year, according to this infographic by American Express Open Forum, so commit them to memory now.
2. Create Templates
Earlier this month, we covered a few ways to make your parts catalogs more user friendly and mentioned the importance of consistent formatting across catalogs. Not only will this establish a recognizable brand standard, but it will also save you time. Make a template with standard header and footer conventions, fonts, colors and table styles, and then utilize this on all future publications of that type. This will give all your parts catalogs the same look and cut down on hours of formatting and design work.
3. Eliminate Manual Processes
Did you know information workers waste an average of six hours on a weekly basis formatting documents and recreating content? The logical way to gain back that chunk of time is to get rid of some manual processes in favor of a more programmatic approach. Because the creation of parts catalogs involves a series of repetitive processes and much of the content is duplicated across catalogs, automation through software like Documoto can help publishers quickly and easily reuse previously authored parts pages without additional manual effort.
4. Work in a Relational Database
Connecting parts books to the original CAD files and engineering data can help bypass intermediary steps like reformatting illustrations in Illustrator and make it easier to update tech documents for parts changes. When all the parts data is stored in a relational database like Documoto, technical writers can automatically replace all previous instances of a part with the superseded part information, which becomes a significant time saver during routine documentation updates.
5. Think About the Big Picture
The parts book you’re working on today will help your dealers find the right part quickly, repair their machines easily, and give them a better overall view of your company. It’s easy to get bogged down in the technical aspects of publishing parts books and equipment manuals, but remembering why you’re doing what you’re doing will keep you motivated. Your work plays a vital role in ensuring accurate parts orders, strengthening manufacturing-dealer relationships, and reducing equipment downtime.
When I was a SolidWorks Composer Product Manager, I constantly ran into manufacturers that wanted to use the part breakout views produced by Composer to allow their customer to order parts online. Composer would create high quality content and even add hotpoints that would link the parts to BOMs. “But how do we add a shopping cart?” the manufactures would constantly ask. Well…you have to do a whole bunch of web development. Composer is a great tool to generate stunning graphical content, but that content still requires a container whether it’s a webpage or a document layout tool.
Now that I am here at Digabit, I am constantly seeing manufacturers use the parts breakout views to create Documoto parts books, allowing their customers to order parts online. I recently spoke to a technical illustrator, DJ Berger at Fecon. They are a Digabit customer that produce vegetation management equipment and wood to energy equipment. Fecon uses Composer with the Docustudio Authoring Suite to produce parts books for online ordering. DJ said, “Having our customer be able to zoom in on the digital part manuals hosted on Documoto is incredible” when referring to how a customer can see engravings within a parts breakout view to get more information about the connections. Now their customer can dig into the detail of each image and verify that they are ordering the correct part. The best part is how easy the tools are to use. “The whole process from Composer to Docustudio is extremely user-friendly. I have had no trouble quickly catching on to the functionalities of these two programs.” DJ told me as a technical illustrator new to his role. Take a look for yourself, Exploded Views Made Easy with SolidWorks Composer.
How about you? How are you using SolidWorks Composer? Are your customers able to order parts online like Fecon’s customers?
I look forward to your comments.
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