Tag Illustrated Parts Catalog

Tag Illustrated Parts Catalog

5 Productivity Tricks to Shortcut the Parts-Publishing Process

February 20, 2015 Tags: , , , ,
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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.

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5 Tips to Make Your Parts Catalogs More User Friendly

February 4, 2015 Tags: , ,
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Here are five simple tips to improve your parts catalogs’ usability, so that dealers can get the most value from your publishing efforts:

1. Tweak Part Descriptions

The part descriptions provided by engineering aren’t always readily understandable or helpful to dealers. Editing these during the publishing process can save time and money in the long run. Not only will better parts descriptions enable dealers to quickly identify the right part without confusion, but it will also help prevent erroneous parts orders. If you haven’t already, consider creating a standard format convention for descriptions (e.g., “part type/size/material/finish”).

2. Use Consistent Formatting Across Catalogs

Using the same fonts, table styles, and header/footer format in all of your parts books can go a long way toward making them more user friendly, especially for dealers that sell multiple model types or product configurations. Consistent formatting allows dealers to become familiar with the basic layout of your catalogs, so that they can rapidly navigate the content, and find parts information with ease.

If you’re an InDesign user, make use of master pages, character styles, and paragraph styles to get the ball rolling. For DocuStudio users, achieving consistent formatting is even more straightforward, because parts books are created via automated processes that are based on the preferences that you’ve established.

3. Optimize Catalogs for Multiple Formats

Providing anytime, anywhere access to parts information can help reduce equipment downtime. While sending a hard copy catalog to your dealers and making an identical PDF available online is a great start, optimizing the catalogs for their intended medium will make them more efficient and convenient for parts lookup.

Interactive electronic parts books go far beyond PDFs, by offering better search functionality and letting users drill down through assemblies to find needed parts, thus expediting repairs. In this digital age, it’s best to cover all of your bases by creating versions for smartphones, tablets, and PCs, in addition to printed catalogs.

4. Create Part Kits for Common Repairs

Imagine this scenario: a dealer orders an individual part for a specific repair, and, once it arrives, they discover that they also need one or more other parts to finish the job. Has this ever happened to you?

One thing that we’ve noticed our customers doing more and more is packaging related parts into kits, so that their dealers have everything they need for specific maintenance and repair tasks. This has a dual benefit: boosting parts sales, and getting equipment up and running faster (which makes dealers happy).

5. Integrate with EAP, ERM, and eCommerce Systems

Integration with other systems makes your electronic parts catalogs exponentially more useful to dealers. Linking to your EAP/ERM data gives dealers access to parts availability and pricing information, without their having to call customer service.

Documoto customers can take integration a step further, by offering dealers an easy way to request a quote, or to add items directly to shopping carts. As found by Takeuchi U.S., which now processes 98% of its orders online using Documoto, the right integration solution can greatly increase parts sales.

Do you want more ideas for better parts books? Subscribe to our newsletter by filling out the form in the top right.

 Watch the video to learn a faster way to create parts catalogs

Overcoming the Content Challenge to Drive E-Commerce

December 29, 2014 Tags: ,
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Over this past year I have noticed several manufacturers beginning projects around e-commerce. I recently came across the article “The Content Challenge” by Anna Wells in the December issue of Industrial Distribution Magazine. Some manufacturers that I have spoken to over the past year have already had an e-commerce system in place. But as Wells’ article suggests, a manufacturer has to have the content in a way that customers can find what they are looking for. I have observed that without the content these e-commerce systems are not successful.
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Trouble Keeping Illustrated Parts Lists Up-to-Date?

October 13, 2014 Tags: , ,
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I’ve traveled the country talking to several equipment manufacturers. They usually tell me the same thing—managing and updating parts information in Illustrated Parts Lists and Electronic Parts Catalogs is a constant challenge. Manufacturers commonly provide Illustrated Parts Catalogs for end users and service personnel to be able to identify components on large complex equipment. In order for this to provide real value, the parts information needs to be accurate.

Manufacturers tell me that it is typical for a technical illustrator to format a parts catalog in either Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign, and distribute that document as a PDF. Problem is that weeks, days, minutes or even seconds after sending it, this information may become out of date. Keeping information updated is a time consuming task. The illustrator must locate every page that contains the updated part, update each page and repeat the process for multiple books. While engineering uses top of the line technology that manages these changes automatically when changes occur at the part level, technical illustrators are usually limited to the time consuming task of making these changes one by one. On top of all of it, if the manufacturer wants an Electronic Parts Catalog, it is an additional effort to publish the catalog to that format.

The simple, timesaving way to keep illustrated parts lists current

It’s been a rewarding experience to work for a company that helps manufacturers resolve this issue by removing the tedious, inefficient, money-draining task of manually keeping parts catalogs up-to-date. We developed the Docustudio Authoring Suite—a database publishing tool specific for parts catalogs. This tool allows technical illustrators to publish both the PDF Illustrated Parts Catalog and the Electronic Parts Catalog at the same time. When part information changes, the technical illustrator makes a single change and all parts books are updated. When Documoto is integrated with ERP Systems, efficiency increase even more.

Take a look at our data sheet to learn more:

Download the Data Sheet

 

 White Paper - Supercharge OEM publishing time with database approach