April 9, 2014
The Catch-22 and the Super Manuals that Saved the Day
Metso Minerals and their technical documentation department were snagged in a catch-22. The renaissance of the mining industry had presented them with a great opportunity to thrive and expand, yet a time consuming technical documentation process was threatening their competitiveness in the marketplace.
Metso Minerals, a component of Metso engineering group, is a global provider of process solutions and systems within the mining industry. They employ around 10,000 people, with branches spanning more than 150 countries.
One of their operations is located in Sala, Sweden, where 220 employees specialize in the manufacturing and assembly of separation equipment and slurry pumps.
Within recent years Metso Minerals has benefited from a considerable upswing of demand within the mining industry. But pressure has also increased. In an industry where delays can be extremely costly, the ability to deliver a product on time while maintaining a high standard of quality is absolutely critical.
The task of meeting such high standards affects every phase of production, including the assembly of user manuals. For Metso Minerals’ documentation department, keeping up with a tightened time frame proved to be a bit complicated. They had been working for many years with a traditional approach to technical documentation, using a layout program and information sourced from various text-based files. Producing a single 60-120 page manual entailed a lengthy process of manually searching and updating documentation, including versions translated into 18 different languages.
The ultimate challenge was to keep the immense store of information, from which data was sourced for manual production, constantly updated. According to Dan Redlund, one of the technical writers at Metso Minerals in Sala, “we came to the point where we simply didn't have time to keep track of all the documents and project-unique data that were to be included in the manuals. Even if we didn't have so many machines to document, most of them came out in various models—which also complicated manual production.”
The solution was Excosoft, which replaced countless text files with an automized document management system. All product information was consolidated into 8 “super manuals,” each containing sub groupings to allow for each machine’s assortment of models. Centralized information also enabled easy access to the most updated version of documentation. Excosoft even kept track of the various language translations, making it easy to search and locate sections that needed updating.
The implementation of Excosoft at Metso Minerals in Sala yielded immediate results. Perhaps the greatest testament to their success was the fact that their user manual production process, which once took two days, now took only 3 hours.
Furthermore, when it came to data compilation, the documentation department at Sala now experienced an increase in their capacity to produce manuals, without needing to recruit additional staff. They even gained better control over their data, thanks to the consolidating power of their “super manuals.”
And the ultimate result? The disentanglement of Metso Minerals from their catch-22 situation empowered them with the tools of efficiency they needed to align with the tempo of their customers, without sacrificing their high standard of quality.
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