Tag technical authoring

Tag technical authoring

What’s a Component Content Management System?

September 8, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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According to Wikipedia, “A component content management system (CCMS) is a content management system that manages content at a granular level (component) rather than at the document level. Each component represents a single topic, concept or asset (for example an image, table, product description, or procedure).

“The CCMS must be able to track ‘…relationships among topics, graphics, maps, publications, and deliverables.’ More often than not, the CCMS also contains the publishing engine to create the final outputs for print, web and e-readers.”

The most significant word here is “component,” which distinguishes a CCMS from the more commonly known CMS, or content management system. The most popular CMS is the web content management platform WordPress, which is not considered a CCMS because it manages content at the post or page level.

If we substitute “part” for “topic” in the definition above, the definition of a CCMS essentially describes the functionality of Digabit’s Documoto platform. Documoto manages the information that goes into a parts catalog using parts, assemblies and pages as components that can be arranged and organized to create a highly specific document.

So, for a complex, customized machine that is completely unique, a publisher can quickly generate a parts book that is 100% accurate and identified by the serial number of that individual machine. Or a publisher could produce parts catalogs for 10 different models that share 50% of their parts, without cutting and pasting. That level of detail and accuracy is virtually impossible using traditional methods of content management and desktop publishing to author parts catalogs.

The major benefits of using a CCMS to manage parts information are:

  • Greatly reduces time and effort spent maintaining content due to data re-usability
  • Change management – revise a part or assembly once and all relevant docs are updated
  • Highly modular in nature, enabling connectivity with other data systems
  • Potential to automate data entry through integrations and bulk loading processes

When you examine the features and benefits of a CCMS, Documoto checks all the boxes. If you’re a manufacturer thinking about how to upgrade your parts information management and publishing processes, you should give Documoto a try!

An Equipment Owner’s Perspective on Spare Parts

June 30, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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One of Digabit’s clients is Schramm, Inc., a 115-year-old manufacturer of drilling equipment supplying the global mining, energy and water industries. Schramm builds custom rigs tailored to buyers’ specifications, which means that maintenance and repair of these unique machines requires complex coordination of the right people, with the right parts, at the right time.

Complicating matters even more, many of Schramm’s products operate in remote locales, hundreds of miles from the nearest airport or major city. Job sites like this are expensive to manage, and when equipment is idled due to a breakdown or unscheduled maintenance it can cost the equipment owner tens of thousands a day in lost productivity and labor costs.

Consider the problems posed by this scenario for a job site’s mechanics and operations manager, as they attempted to keep equipment running up to 24 hours a day:

  • Technical support materials often consisted of a generic set of manuals that did not accurately reflect the actual machinery.
  • Support documents such as illustrated parts books were delivered in print with the machine, or in PDFs on a CD, which means they were practically impossible to update when the OEM re-designed and superseded a part.
  • Depending on geography, delivery of parts could take several days and cost hundreds to thousands of dollars for express service. The consequences of ordering the wrong part were magnified manyfold, considering the immense costs related to downtime.
  • Communications with support staff in the OEM’s aftermarket organization could be difficult, making identification of the correct replacement parts a significant problem when documentation was incorrect or missing.
  • In extreme cases, the ability to rapidly deliver spare parts becomes a life-or-death affair.

This was the environment for equipment users prior to Schramm’s adoption of a digitally enhanced workflow for parts book authoring and publication.

Then Schramm adopted Documoto, a modern, relational database solution that delivers product documentation in the cloud. Documoto has unlocked massive benefits for Schramm customers:Schramm Equipment-Owner-Perspective-Spare-Parts

  • Equipment users have the ability to look up detailed diagrams of parts and assemblies, in parts books that are custom-built alongside the machinery.
  • When parts or other product data are revised by the manufacturer, customers’ electronic parts books are automatically updated within a day.
  • Because part and assembly drawings are now identical to the physical components, order accuracy increased while order processing efforts dropped.

It’s surprising to learn that many billion-dollar companies still manage aftermarket support the old way. Forward-thinking firms like Schramm—and Digabit’s other clients—have discovered a 21st-century parts catalog solution, and the benefits of 24×7 customer access to highly accurate product documentation.

Technical Publishing 101: Part Supersession & ECOs, Oh My!

June 3, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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The life of a technical publisher at a manufacturing company presents some difficult challenges. Your job is to produce useful and engaging content for employees and customers. Content that puts the company’s products in the best light, and reflects the importance of customer support to your organization.

And when you finally go to print, or publish your latest project online, you feel a great sense of satisfaction…until you look at the final product and realize that, before even one user views the results of your hard work, there are numerous errors and inaccuracies hidden inside the text.

This is what happens to authors and editors of parts catalogs every single day. Illustrations that don’t match the as-built product. Machines that have a custom configuration of parts and assemblies, but are shipped with a “base model” parts manual. Part numbers constantly being updated, and so on.

Unhappy-Tech-PubCreating an accurate parts catalog for complex equipment is harder than most people realize. Image files, bills of materials, and other source documents arrive from multiple designers and engineers. Engineering change orders (ECOs) are issued during prototyping, testing and production, leading to superseded part numbers and modified descriptions. To add even more confusion, version control may not be universally consistent across departments and document management systems.

It’s up to the publishing staff to pull it all together and ship the documentation, as close to perfect as possible. But it’s never perfect under these conditions—nobody can keep up with all the changes, and desktop publishing platforms require a high level of effort to edit a single part number or illustration.

Often, no one outside the publications department seems to care about these difficulties.

But customers care. Machine operators and technicians care, desperate to fix the machines that their livelihoods depend upon. The dealers who want to prove themselves indispensable to their biggest accounts. And the owners of the machines certainly care, since they view downtime as a vampire-like monster siphoning away profits.

How do you bring order to this madness? Is the idea of a 100% accurate parts catalog a fantasy?

It’s not a fantasy, and it’s achievable with proven, widely available technology. Imagine being able to quickly import part illustrations, BOMs and other product data, right into your authoring tool. With automated linking and hot-pointing of drawings and part descriptions that save hours of formatting labor.

Happy-Tech-Pub

And, imagine not having to copy and reformat text within your desktop publishing system. Or revise the part number for a part shared between 20 models in 20 separate parts book documents. What if you could edit one text field in your authoring tool and know that you instantly corrected the documentation for hundreds of machines—and thousands of customers—all around the world?

If you could do that, people would start noticing. From the VP of customer service to the guy sitting behind the parts counter, they’re going to notice easier part sales and happier equipment owners. And you’ll deliver that brand new, insanely accurate parts catalog with a huge smile on your face.

This is the power of authoring and publishing with a relational database. It’s the future of technical publishing, and it’s here now. If you’d like to see how easy it is to start building world-class support documents with Documoto, check out our Quick Start Publishing package that offers fast, affordable implementation!