A new digital era of technical information

Etteplan HowTo

Etteplan HowTo is a turnkey service designed to accelerate access to the right information for end-users,
boost productivity in installation, operation and service and revolutionize the creation
and management of technical information.

The first task for Etteplan’s new cloud-based solution was the creation of user-centric digital installation instructions for a new kitchen line, consisting of both graphic and text-based instructions, and now served as an on-demand online resource. Always available and searchable digital instructions increase the productivity of installation technicians, contributing to faster installation processes and increased customer satisfaction.
Ferry Stam
Senior Product Engineer
DKG (De Keuken Groep), Leading kitchen manufacturer, The Netherlands
Key Benefits
Maximum availability of technical information
Short time to knowledge
Personalized, relevant information enriched with images and videos
Cost-efficient and simplified document delivery and management
Reduced need for product support services

Professionals face situations where they can’t find the right answers to problems. Yes, there is technical information available, such as complete manuals, installation or assembly guides, maintenance instructions, etc. However, this information really doesn’t help the way it should or could.

Manufacturers of machines and equipment invest a lot of money to create technical information about their products. What is the value of investing if the content isn’t available when needed, or if it doesn’t provide the answers properly and fast enough? The manufacturing industry can’t afford unnecessary productivity failures.

Equally, manufacturers need to ensure the safety of their products, and manuals play a critical role. Content must be available and understandable for every potential user disregarding the language barriers and expertise levels. A maintenance error may lead to grave consequences, such as lost lives and property, or an environmental scandal. Another aspect is how documentation must ensure the safety of using the products and performing maintenance tasks.

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The New Digital Era of Technical Information - white paper

Download White paper

The New Digital Era of Technical Information - white paper

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Download White paper

The New Digital Era of Technical Information - white paper

In the 2020s, we have to reimagine how technical information is created, delivered, maintained, and consumed. We must go digital. We must give task-specific on-demand information on any distribution channel, wherever it is needed, immediately.

For that reason, we have created Etteplan HowTo, a turnkey service to accelerate access to the right information for end-users, boost productivity in operation and service, and revolutionize the creation and management of information.



Features and key benefits

Unlimited data formats and content types

The cloud-based platform where everything is stored can chew up data in virtually any format regularly used in producing technical information. Anything that works over the web is good to go right away. Ideally, everything is just XML files, because then it is easy and fast to generate manuals that are user-centric and context-aware. However, Etteplan HowTo is not dependent on any particular format.

Sometimes, files need conversions and optimizations so that the content is responsive and viewable with any browser on any phone or computer. But a few selected files might be left that require specific software for viewing, such as technical drawings saved by CAD software typically used in technical design. Users can download these if necessary.

Importance of modules and metadata

In Etteplan HowTo, all information is ideally modularized and spiced up with metadata. Why is this of great importance? Most existing technical information data lacks these features. Without modules and metadata, it is impossible to provide on-demand and task-specific answers to users.

Etteplan has a long experience and a solid process to produce structured technical documents such as product manuals. The principle is to split the content into modules, small chunks of information that answer a single specific question a user may have. All modules are put together into a "book" but without any pre-determined reading order. Modules give users the freedom to use the manual in a non-linear fashion. Similarly, the information in Etteplan HowTo has to consist of small modules.

Additionally, every module is enriched by metadata, i.e., tags and keywords, and indexing. It is critical to producing searchability and make "stupid" information intelligent. The richer the metadata is, the better the content can help a user in real-life situations. Metadata is what makes it possible to identify the context of the user.

Metadata can be added directly to the module files. It can also exist in a separate database, but then each file must contain links that enable searches in the database. Mostly, metadata is easiest with XML, but also other data can be made smart. Instead of creating metadata manually, artificial intelligence tools are useful in generating metadata automatically.

Going forward, when content is well structured and modularized and has sufficient metadata, everything becomes an automated process. Each piece of content places on the platform will become usable on different distribution channels and applications.


APIs, applications, and integrations

APIs are a core functionality in Etteplan HowTo. Thanks to APIs, HowTo can be seen as a bridge between multiple backend and frontend systems. HowTo can be called a data repository that is possible to integrate into any other system, and the same repository can be used for multiple purposes. In principle, every different end-user group could have their own application customized for their usage.

Standardized APIs enable integrations to a wide range of external data sources and applications such as computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), ticketing systems, enterprise resource planning software (ERP), product data management environments (PDM), SCADA systems, manufacturing management systems (MMS), manufacturing execution systems (MES) or BIM (building information modelling system).

On the frontend side, the simplest way to utilize Etteplan HowTo is online applications and content that look and function like web pages. If this is not good enough, virtually any application for any use case can be built using the API.


Multichannel distribution and embedded content

Etteplan HowTo enables the multichannel distribution of technical information. Users can view browser-based HowTo content on all computers, phones, and tablets, and it is also possible to stream information to applications made for VR or AR glasses.

Embedding on-demand manuals straight in the user interface of equipment and machines or on the dashboard of any device is also an exciting opportunity.

Think about people working as machine operators in a factory, for instance. Not only would they see the alarms and notifications when an issue arises, but they would also get immediate instructions to solve the problem. In certain cases, this could require having most information stored locally for offline use, but additional content and updates would require online connectivity.


User management

In most business use cases, organizations don't need to enable external access to their content, as it's usually meant for internal use alone. Sometimes wider access is needed, however, and that calls for a user management system.

The starting point is to define the target group of the information and who is the person in charge of granting access. After that, the process becomes relatively straightforward: Access can be opened by linking the documentation in question to the organization's active directory. Etteplan HowTo can be connected to various other user management control as well.



Start with a pilot

The process to implement Etteplan HowTo begins with specifying the requirements together with Etteplans experts. Often, the implementation may require a pilot or proof-of-concept case study.

A pilot could include an exploration of data that already exists in digital format and where it is. In most cases, machine and equipment manufacturers already have their technical documentation gathered into databases. This is the lowest hanging fruit that facilitates a digital transformation.

Still, there's plenty to do to make the content accessible online in a way that fulfills the ideals of HowTo. After identifying the existing content, it's current availability needs to be checked too: how it's delivered, who has the access, are there any applications linked to the data? It also takes some investigating to determine the best possible way to bring the content accessible online in a user-friendly manner in its current state.

A new digital era of technical information: Downloads

The New Digital Era of Technical Information - white paper

White paper | PDF | 10.69 MB

Outsourcing of technical information - Husqvarna case study

Case study | PDF | 3.05 MB

Eric Tengstrand

Eric Tengstrand

Global Service Solutions Director Technical Communication Solutions
+46 70 757 74 40
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