Illustrations in Service and Technical Publications

Our work with our clients has made very significant contributions to their achievements. We have helped them substantially reduce their costs for the preparation of service publications.

Dan Simonetti, Operations Manager, USE* Publications
USE* can work diligently with our customers to both improve the quality of deliverables that we are responsible for (or otherwise support), and to reduce direct and indirect costs for the work that we provide or that our customers do.

Our work on illustrations for publications including workshop manuals and owner literature, and with a range of automotive OEM clients, is a good example of support for a deliverable whether or not it is created by USE* or, before USE*, UK Service Evolution.

The Challenge

Previously in onset of CAD-enabled digital technology, most OEMs created illustrations for service publications by tracing outlines from photographic images, or by including digital photographic images in their publications. The resulting line-art or edited photograph composed the published illustration.

When CAD data became available in CAD visualisation tools, CAD application for aftermarket publications was a logical step. Our work at UK Service Evolution initially considered illustrations and images used in workshop manuals, at first trying to retain the same line-art style of the old image, but created from the CAD data instead of using the old tracing techniques.

However, multi-faceted CAD geometry presented the illustrator with such a vast array of lines derived from polygon edges, that working in this way proved to be as time consuming as the original outline tracing method.

The Solution

The solution for most of our clients has been to replace the line-art format with a single shaded image that requires little or no post-processing. The method usually includes the adoption of basic colour setting or shading standards which can be configured in CAD using the CAD data. Once this has been done creating an illustration can be as simple as selecting ‘File—Export’.

Depending on the application and the client, the standards for colouration may need to be considered in the context of a range of objectives. This may include identification of an object against a detailed background context, or representation of colour or action using colour formats or labels.

Its Benefits

Eliminating post image (line-art) clean-up can be expected to reduce preparation times by well in excess of 50%. While using these methods to replace other media, such as line art or digital photographs, saves annotation/editing time it also means that creating deliverables is no longer dependent on access to the product. In this way workload can be more evenly distributed, and publications preparation can begin further upstream than before.

Illustrations created using the new method are higher quality, and provide the user with a more understandable visualisation of the environment and task to be carried out. And, depending on how images are configured, the use of colours can also reduce the number of images needed to document a procedure (another cost saving), and significantly reduce the amount of text needed to describe an operation (still more cost savings - in this case in translation costs).

Additionally the adoption of CAD-derived images best supports delivery of publications data via the internet, including allowing for the introduction of simple Flash animations to better illustrate procedures.

Our Achievements

Our efforts have helped both to develop new methods derived from the principle of applying CAD data to the creation of technical publications, and to facilitate its acceptance by the user and customer communities in various clients' Service departments. USE* has also supported the adoption of these new techniques by means of developing written standards, and through the delivery of training to ensure a smooth and efficient transfer from the old ways of working to the new.

Our support has also assisted with the dissemination of new methods beyond our clients’ Service communities, and into other publications environments such as technical specifications and overviews or manufacturing information.

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