The fundamental goal of Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul operations is to minimize downtime of products in the field.
This in turn requires that MRO technicians are able to rapidly understand required tasks and execute them quickly and accurately.
To achieve this, technicians need MRO documentation that provides current data and absolute clarity in a way that is easy for everyone to access and consume.
In this article, we're focusing on the impact of interactive digital work instructions in Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul and how embracing the next generation of instructional content can help you address some of the most serious challenges within this crucial operational sector.
Across the manufacturing ecosystem, technicians depend on precise information to complete their jobs. This is especially critical for maintenance, repair and overhaul.
Service technicians, engineers and maintenance teams – whether they are part of your internal team, part of your customer’s workforce, or third party or partner organizations – underpin customer success for many manufacturing organizations.
They are the first responders battling costly downtime and upholding your product’s reputation in the field.
The successful execution of their work hinges on the standard of documentation made available to them, and often the standard just isn’t high enough.
Here's a look at why traditional MRO documentation, including paper-based manuals, textbooks, and text-heavy pdfs that contain photographs and flat drawings, does not promote rapid, successful completion of tasks.
Almost one third of manufacturers still have hard-copy documentation in circulation and the vast majority of the rest rely on "paper on glass" digitizations of hard copy material in PDF format or similar.
This material is typically text-heavy, and depends on product photographs, or heavily annotated line-drawing images to supplement written descriptions of required processes.
Pictures may be better than words but flat documentation does not show a technician in entirety how a product appears, moves or is interacted with in the real world.
In the absence of absolute clarity, technicians are likely to be slowed down at best and, at worst, improvise or employ non-standard approaches.
The rate at which a technician is able to execute an MRO task depends in the first instance on how quickly they are able to understand what the task requires. How quickly a service or maintenance document delivers knowledge transfer depends on the nature and quality of the content.
Text takes a long time to consume and flat images that lack clarity often require the worker to check and recheck back to the document.
Hard copy material held by technicians cannot be updated, while PDF documentation can live on local drives, in email inboxes, in chat streams, or even on flash drives that are carried from location to location.
This means it is difficult to ensure that content is always up to date and that every technician in every location - MRO is by nature a highly distributed function - is working from the same material.
A significant portion of the U.S. workforce in the manufacturing sector does not have English as a first language. And among those that do there is a high level of diversity in reading comprehension. Documentation that requires the user to read a lot of text risks slowing down the technician and increases the likelihood of errors.
Delays and bottlenecks in the creation of service and maintenance documentation are rife in the manufacturing industry. With payment often dependent on the complete delivery of maintenance material, these bottlenecks directly impact time to revenue. Documentation content creators are typically dependent on a number of other departments in order to access material they need to illustrate their content, and lack the skills or applications to work directly with source 3D model data.
Interactive digital work instructions directly address the shortcomings inherent in traditional and outdated forms of MRO documentation.
They leverage best practices in knowledge transfer by combining self-guided interactive content, such as embedded 3D models with audio and animated video content, and they ensure material is up to date, and accessed from a central resource.
They promote worker autonomy, while ensuring technicians are not driven to improvise or use peer-shared workarounds that are not centrally approved.
Here's why embracing the next generation of documentation for MRO operations can lead to faster task completion, higher success rates, and less downtime in the field.
Using animations, rich visualizations, and embedded models based on source 3D CAD data provides a wealth of additional clarity for technicians. This does not mean information overload, however. The right digital work instructions should be easily tailored to the task at hand, not requiring a technician to spend time locating information in a huge document.
Interactive and audio-visual content allows workers to seek additional clarity when they need it, eliminating delays caused by having to check details with colleagues, and speeding up key processes.
Rapid, accurate knowledge transfer is the core of effective digital work instructions. Interactive, self-guided content is proven to drive faster learning and reduce mistakes in execution.
This type of instructional content should promote visual learning, minimizing dependence on text, and therefore overcoming language challenges caused by diversity in comprehension.
The best digital work instructions are those that are linked to source engineering data, so that any changes made to the source data are instantly reflected in the visualizations and metadata used to compile the documentation.
Obsolescence in technical documentation is a huge challenge in manufacturing and MRO. That challenge disappears with digital work instructions.
Because they are connected to source data and accessed from a central location - even if they are being used offline - digital work instructions for MRO ensure that there are no inconsistencies in the material being used at different locations.
We know that your technicians and maintenance and repair teams are experts in their field, but that doesn’t mean that current practices are scalable or sustainable.
Fortunately, switching from traditional MRO documentation to interactive digital work instructions requires no heavy lifting in content creation, no additional resources or delays to critical processes.
In fact, it’s as easy as sending this link to your MRO and documentation creation teams to let them know how digital work instructions help cut delays, reduce errors and optimize essential maintenance processes.
Deliver a user experience of unbeatable accuracy and rapid knowledge transfer for maintenance, repair and operations today.
You can share the documents you’re working on with colleagues and team members wherever they’re located. They can interact, mark-up, feed-back, clarify, and sign off. Perfect for working in distributed teams, for checking product details with your engineering team and for clearing the finished document with sales and business development teams.