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.