Re: Parts lists in maintenance manuals

Subject: Re: Parts lists in maintenance manuals
From: "Metzger, Lucinda" <cmetzger -at- DUKANE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 08:50:57 -0500

Rich asked:

>What is your current practice regarding parts lists. <snip> We have a
>discussion going now at work. One camp says limit the parts list to what the
>organization is authorized to remove and replace in the field. The other side
>says, what the hey, give them a listing of every bit and
piece part in the device.

We had a huge argument -- er, discussion -- about this at my workplace a
couple years ago. We used to list every part in the product down to the
individual components on the PCBs, but it was impossible for us to keep
the parts lists up to date because many of the parts changed constantly.
("Wait! Resistor R29 on such-and-such board changed from xx value to yy
value! Quick, update the manual, scrap the 200 copies we've got packed
with the stocked products, and replace them with the updated ones!") In
addition, due to software compatibility problems between the company's
parts database and our DTP software, we had to manually key all the
parts into the documents. It was very time consuming to do this for some
of our larger service manuals. All in all, it was a real pain in the
patoot and we felt it was a waste of time to expend all that energy on a
bunch of long, detailed parts lists that were frequently inaccurate by
the time the document was printed and packed with the product.

Anyhow, one of the writers in my group started a campaign to simplify
the parts lists and only list the parts that we want the field people to
replace, like fuses or entire PCBs. There was an internal investigation,
mostly in the form of talking to our customer service people to get an
idea of how our customers would feel about this change. Without
exception, the customer service people agreed that we should simplify
the list. Part of their argument was that they really don't want the
field people to be troubleshooting our PCBs, but if they're smart enough
to do so, they're smart enough to read the color coding on the resistor
(or otherwise identify whatever part needs replacing) and pick one out
from an electronics store themselves. Interestingly, the engineers felt
very strongly that we should continue to do the full parts lists and
were quite adamant about it.

To make a long story longer, ;-) management decided that yes, we would
simplify the parts list to only include field-replaceable components.
The engineers still complain about it every time they review one of our
service manuals. The customer service people are happy every time they
review one of our service manuals. And the customers? Frankly, I don't
know what they think of the change. I haven't heard a single comment
>either way!

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