In technical manuals, accuracy in information is everything. EKR Orchestra allows you to obtain it safely, without redundancy, errors and waste of time.
When it comes to technical manuals, accuracy is everything.
Accuracy in the description, in the message and in the procedure. But precision also with regard to the legislation.
As you well know, for the preparation of technical manuals it is necessary to follow a defined regulation , which observes the legislative indications but which is also based on clear instructions both for those who write, both for translators and for those who will consult the manual.
Going into detail, the legislation to refer to as regards the technical manuals is the Resolution of the Council of 17/12/1998 (GUCE of 31/12/1998) , concerning the preparation of instructions for ‘use of technical consumer goods, to which is added the Directive 2006/42 / EC defined “Essential health and safety requirements relating to the design and construction of machines”.
How do you write your manual?
The drafting of technical manuals presents general principles that should not be ignored. First of all, the fact that the instructions must be written in one or more official languages of the country in which the machine is used and that they must be translated by specialized personnel and professional operators. Remember that in some cases the reading will then also be intended for non-experts in the sector.
For the instructions for use, there are directives and standards to be taken into account. First of all, the display of the contents.
The importance of well-structured content
The instructions of a manual must be presented in a logical sequence, which divides the different processes into categories, such as personal data, safety contents, installation data and methods of use.
A manual must present the company name and full address of the manufacturer and his authorized representative, but also the EC declaration of conformity and data relating to the product.
The initial part of a manual, therefore, must offer a brief description of the product, its features and its precautions for use. Only later will it be possible to enter more detailed information, all summarized in the summary, to be placed at the beginning or at the end.
Technical data will also be included and, finally, the methods of disposal or recycling of the product at the end of its life.
Do not underestimate the importance of including instructions relating to the transport, assembly, handling and storage of the product.
What if there are several models of the same product?
It is good practice, if there are several models of the same product, to draw up differentiated instructions for each individual model , so as to avoid misunderstandings or other dangers.
The same manual can only be accepted if, despite the difference in model, the products can be used and activated in the same way.
The contents must therefore be exposed sequentially and respect the various processes and the possible problems that could arise.
As for safety advice and warnings, these must be set out in the instructions for use and repeated in the operational phases in which related problems may occur.
The instructions must attract the attention of the reader . A technical manual must indeed represent how to operate a product or machinery, but it must also and above all alert the user to possible risks.
The contraindications must therefore be highlighted and correlated by the most common unexpected problems , by the operations to solve them and finally by the indications for the assistance service.
It is also essential to describe the operations to be performed in case of failure and to give indications for adjustment and both preventive and operational maintenance in critical cases.
Communicate in simple language
For a correct exposition it is necessary, however, to pay attention to the language used .
In a self-respecting manual, it is good to use a language that is easily understood for the final consumer. First of all, as we said, it must be translated into the official language of the Community in which it is published.
At a later time, it would be good to contact professionals in the sector to translate the manual into different languages.
A second rule to pay particular attention to is the level of language to be used. Keep in mind that you are targeting consumers who are often not in the industry. Therefore it is a good idea to always keep in mind the type of audience that will have to read the text.
Therefore use a correct but not artificial grammar # b #, with simple, clear and consistent words. The same component of the machine, or the same group, must always be named in the same way so that no ambiguities arise. Hence the need to create a Corporate Glossary, shared by all departments.
If drawings are used, always place them side by side with the explanatory text.
The information should not be confusing , but easily traceable and accurate.
How to be understandable?
Drawing up a manual therefore requires particular attention to laws, directives and rules on instructions for use. For example, it is also necessary to comply with UNI EN ISO 12100 , which defines the terminology and methodology for safety in the design of machinery.
The manual is a set of information that is transmitted to the final consumer. The content must therefore be structured according to the operations that the user can perform. For this reason, it is good to be sure of the functionality of the information that is written in the manual.
Thanks to usability testing, it will be possible to have a limited number of users test the various functions of the product. After careful observation, it will be possible to understand the degree of exposure and ease of understanding of the manual.
Fulfilling the regulation on technical manuals and instructions is only part of the job.
To create truly effective catalogs or technical manuals, you need to start from the beginning of the information “chain”.
Upstream, how does your company produce and manage information?
All the data and contents you will need to use in the technical manuals, who creates them? Where are they located? How are they modified and how are they passed on from professional to professional, from department to department?
If you’re still using Excel spreadsheets and a handful of different programs to handle the different content you need, know that you’re in trouble.
Yes, because doing so exponentially increases the possibility of generating errors and not passing on to different departments (and to different people) the correct information for the preparation of technical manuals.
There is a way to avoid all these problems, which can cost you very, very dearly …
It’s called EKR Orchestra® , the exclusive PIM we created to allow you to safely manage product information and contents, without redundancies and losses even between different departments and accompany them intact up to the PDF or html document, in different languages.
What are you waiting for? Contact us for more information!