Automated Generation of Technical Documents (Part 2 of 3)

by Dr. Uwe Wächter

An important part of each client project in plant construction and special machine construction is the creation of complete and specific documentation for the system concerned. Depending on the size and complexity of the product, the documentation includes a few or several hundred folders. Various documentation serves to describe, as well as to operate and service or to maintain and repair the plant. In this three-part series of our blog we explain to you how you automatically create such documentation using SEAL systems solutions. Today: Part 2, the solution.

The creation of technical documentation – the solution

Delivery on paper and electronically

Completed system documentation must often still be delivered on paper in folders; partially, the provision in the form of a structured pdf is already sufficient. For the electronic long-term archiving, a pdf/A suitable for this purpose is also required. Our solution enables you to automatically compile the documentation up to complete DVDs as well as the uploading on client portals. For subsequent searches, the complete documentation from the direct publishing process can be filed automatically at a central place in the PLM system or on the file server.

Preparation

Master index, directory of folders and contents of folder

The extent of the documentation for a system can, as described, span between one and several hundred folders. From a certain number of folders, a master index is no longer sufficient for an overview. A separate directory of all existing folders will be required. Each folder in turn contains a table of contents, which only lists the contents of the particular folder.

Main divider sheets and index separators

Divider sheets between individual chapters can be printed on stronger paper. These divider sheets are then displayed separately from the overall documentation on another output channel. Alternatively, sheets of different colors are inserted in the places where a prefabricated register sheet is intended to be placed later.

Page layout and page numbering

All pages of the compiled documents contain new consecutive page numbers. These new page numbers will also be found in the above-mentioned tables of contentsworkflow_page_neu_1. This change of numbering is important when, in particular, one wishes to include third-party documentation in an ideal way. Further, third-party documentation receives new company headers and footers.  If available, third-party logos can be replaced by company logos. In this way, a consistent appearance in the own corporate design is achieved for the entire documentation. For subsequent duplex output, the data files are completed with uneven pages.

Interactive table of contents/bookmark structure

For the digital output as pdf, you receive further navigation aids, such as for example interactive tables of contents and bookmarks. Both enable the jump to the corresponding start of the original partial files, now the listed subsections. If bookmarks were already contained in the original partial documents, then these are now included in the newly created bookmarks as sub-trees.

Complete integration of subcontractors’ documentation

The actual content of the documents comes from different sources. Other parts, in particular parts from subcontractors, are described by the original documentation of the subcontractor. By way of test and adjustment procedures in the direct publishing process, a seamless integration into the overall documentation is ensured. Such test procedures are: no protective mechanism, initial views, pdf/A, bookmarks for certain file sizes.

Automatic blank sheets/place markers

In certain circumstances, parts of the documentation may not yet be complete at the time the documents are compiled. If this happens, blank pages are inserted in these places. The focused creation of partial documents in advance is also possible without any problems.

Adding documents in the original format

For the future operators of the system, original documents in the format of the application (format of the system in which they were created) may also be important. Upon agreement, in the course of the document creation, they can be channeled out and passed through by the system in a digitally unchanged format. In addition to machine control or CAD models, signed manufacturer’s certificates may also play a role here.

elvis_lupeGenerating documents

There are circumstances in which individual parts of the documents to be generated are not actually available in a file format. These are for example data, individual unformatted texts, images or similar. These can be prepared in pdf format by means of an integrated report generator. The desired layouts for data, texts and images can be created via the report generator. The data automatically generated in this way can then be added to the documentation. This way, all data is always current.

Monitoring

In particular where time is of essence in the creation of documents, it is important that the progress in the preparation process and potential problems can be recognized quickly and reliably. For the team dealing with the automated compilation of documents, there are numerous opportunities in the user interface of the direct publishing workflow, the digital process factory, to control and monitor the process.  In addition to the efficient administrative tools contained in the DPF, the direct publishing workflow independently creates warnings (f. ex. via email), to point out abnormal or undesirable conditions. In individual places during the processing, an interactive intervention can also be inserted in advance. Such intervention can by manual test steps or also subsequent manual insertion of documents.

Customizing

The direct publishing workflow can be adjusted to the particular circumstances and requirements of each client in an extremely flexible way.

 

Do you have any questions on the automated generation of technical documentation? – Request further information without obligation!

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