Are your parts-publishing processes creating a bottleneck? If aftermarket sales and support can’t identify a part easily, then the answer may be yes. 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 within your parts-publishing process.
- 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. They can shave minutes off of routine tasks. In fact, according to American Express Open Forum, using keyboard shortcuts can save you eight workdays per year, so commit them to memory now.
Create New Page (Assembly)
CTRL + N
CRTL + S
Save Page As…
CRTL + SHIFT + S
Add BOM Row
SHIFT + +
Delete BOM Row
SHIFT + –
Auto Hotpoint Mode
CRTL + SHIFT + A
- Create Templates
In another article, 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.
- Eliminate Manual Processes
Did you know information workers waste an average of six hours every week 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, using a relational database through software like Documoto can help publishers quickly and easily reuse previously authored parts pages without additional manual effort to improve your parts-publishing process.
- Work in a Relational Database
Occasionally a part changes in size, function, etc. prompting a change to the part number and in turn, a change in all parts catalogs where the part is used. When all the parts data is stored in a relational database like Documoto, technical writers can easily replace the old part number with the new one and determine which, if not all, parts catalogs are impacted by the change, which becomes a significant time-saver during routine documentation updates.
- 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.
Have additional parts-publishing process suggestions. Leave a note in the comment section.