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More than fifteen years ago--in the early 1990s, in fact--I did a
project at Xerox in California in which we created a process to use
digital photography in the documentation process for laser printer
service documentation. They had still been creating orthagonal
drawings of parts and assemblies, and our project was to make many of
these instead with relatively simple photographs on which we placed
callouts and legends.
(Of course, being Xerox, they used the results of our project in a few
manuals then appear to have abandoned it simply because the affected
management changed and it had no buy-in from the subsequent
management. They were also re-creating the orthagonal drawings for
each manual release as they refused to allocate more server space for
them--at an average cost of $300 per drawing in those years, with each
manual having many hundreds of these drawings. There was a reason the
employees of the company referred to themselves as "Xeroids" I
Today, it seems, few companies are using photography to its best
advantage in service documentation--yet the photographs, properly
done, give a level of detail that makes comprehension better,
especially for establishment shots and the like.
With some care, you could even do most exploded parts illustrations
with photography, but you'd generally need to be set up for that.
One limitation is that with equipment such as laser printers and
copiers, there are many metal surfaces that can easily become glare
problems. However, in many cases you'll be working with prototype
parts that could easily be treated with a simple matte spray to reduce
the shine--or a polarized lens filter on a DSLR may also eliminate
much or most of the reflected light for a better result.
For every such photo, it is highly likely that the cost in terms of
manhours will be far less while at the same time reducing confusion on
the part of the user base.
I do not believe that photographs can or should entirely replace the
line drawings--but for a sizable number of them, they can be extremely
helpful and cost-effective at the same time.
Of course, a thorough and accurate photographic record--still and
motion--coupled with access to engineering CAD drawings can often
serve as a very good starting point for documentation--whether done on
site or from a remote location.
In Kenpo's case, as I understand it the machinery is actually created
abroad. For new models, it would appear that such a photographic and
veideo record prepared at the factory level may give a very good head
start on documenting new models before they arrive onshore in the U.S.
> From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
> To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Date: Thu, 1 Apr 2010 21:18:25 -0700
> Subject: Re: Re: How do hiring companies view TW resumes?
> I've never documented a bulldozer, but I can tell you that in order to write the teardown manual for an aircraft engine or a mass spectrometer you go out onto the prototype shop floor, look over the shoulder of an engineer/technician/mechanic while it's being broken down to document and photograph the operation so you can create illustrations to go with what you're writing,
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