For a company that manufactures products in different European countries and then brings them together in house at the end of the supply chain for final assembly, the challenges are not limited to logistics and sales. The installation and operating instructions all need to be harmonised – after all, the customer wants to be able to operate the equipment safely. The installer too needs to be able to find the right information when and where it is needed.When DAIKIN decided to start using SCHEMA in 2012, these were the requirements that had to be realised in the SCHEMA ST4 component content management system. The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system manufacturer operates multi-nationally and has production sites in four European countries: Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic and Turkey. Each site manufactures different HVAC components, and authoring tasks for the associated production manuals are undertaken by the relevant site.
Continually rising costs
Bram Lowagie, responsible for product documentation at the production site in Belgium, reported at the SCHEMA Conference last May on how DAIKIN overcame this challenge through the introduction of SCHEMA ST4.
Each new customer requirement or change in legislation makes the heating or air conditioning system that much more complex. As a consequence, the content of product manuals also becomes ever more difficult to manage. DAIKIN was fully aware of the impact of this in the years prior to 2012: rising translation costs, unnecessarily complicated authoring processes, plus long lead and production times for manuals. How do you manage such a multiplicity of content being generated in a number of different countries?
New document concept, new content management system
The basis for introducing ST4 was a new concept for the product manuals. Rather than printed installation and operating instructions, managed using Adobe FrameMaker, the company now assembles instructions for different output formats and target groups using a modular system. This type of concept can only be realised using a CCMS like SCHEMA ST4.
Using ST4 as an authoring tool, DAIKIN today supplies comprehensive, web-based installation instructions (soft copy) for each product; these contain all the relevant information for the customer, from the layout plans through installation and use to maintenance. A short summary of these instructions based on the same modules, but in a ‘slimmed-down’ format, is provided in printed form with the product when it is made available for sale (hard copy). In a similar way, DAIKIN provides a detailed ‘User Reference Guide’ for users as well as brief printed instructions that cover all the essential instructions for the end user.
One aspect that is particularly useful for DAIKIN is that ST4 acts as an authoring environment for highly complex products across country borders in Europe. DAIKIN can now create manuals across the product range using reusable content put together in modular form.
70% saving in translation costs, 60% more documentation
A perfect example of this is the reduction in translation costs that meant SCHEMA ST4 paid for itself almost overnight. Before DAIKIN was able to improve the authoring processes using ST4, translation costs at the company ran to around € 680,000 annually. This is because each new product, marketed around the world, had to have the instructions translated from scratch, with documentation at DAIKIN translated into up to 20 languages.
Since DAIKIN now uses ST4 and so is able to reuse the translated content, the translation costs at DAIKIN’s Belgian site called DENV have fallen by 70% to € 180,000. All within the space of 11 months.
At the same time, the volume of documentation being translated rose by 60% – using ST4 as a CCMS means not only is the time required for translation reduced but also the lead times for publishing manuals. On top of this, DAIKIN has the flexibility to produce its content in different output formats. An aim for the next few years is to produce manuals in HTML form for users as well. This is just a question of configuring the layout, as the data files are already available.
2016 onwards: single system for all sites across Europe
Following the introduction of ST4 at the Belgian site in 2012, ST4 was rolled out to the Czech site from 2016. The Turkish followed in 2017 and Germany will follow in 2017 as well. ST4 facilitates the production of more consistent content and a consistent layout: for extremely varied products, output formats, target groups and also different sites, whose employees need to be able to access the same data. ST4 enabled DAIKIN to significantly simplify its previously unwieldy authoring processes that, in an export-oriented company, frequently draw on skills in geographically diverse parts of the company. They have turned some of the original disadvantages to the advantage of the technical writing staff while simultaneously reducing costs.
About the author
Bram Lowagie started in the Design department of DAIKIN Europe (Ostend, Belgium) in 2005 and is responsible for processes and software tools at the EMEA Development Center. In this role, he coordinated the implementation in 2012 of SCHEMA ST4 at DAIKIN Europe (Ostend, Belgium) as a content management system for the product manuals. At this time, he led the currently ongoing roll-out of SCHEMA ST4 in the other design centres in Europe. As supervisor of the Development Support team, he continues to be responsible for the Product Documentation team at DAIKIN Europe (Ostend, Belgium).