Monday, June 30, 2014

Better Production and Products come from Better Procedures and Flow

Technical writing and illustrations are not just for the customers in the form of installation, maintenance, or operator manuals. It's also for helping your staff to understand internal procedures and processes.

Tools such as company handbooks, informative work posters, manuals for work procedures and processes, or even safety guidelines can go a long way in increasing production, and reducing workplace accidents.

Our technical writing and illustration experience will ensure that your internal documentation will have the professional quality that it deserves.

Workflow illustration



As we can see in this comical drawing, OSHA has developed all of the equipment necessary to keep the operator safe. What is still missing? If you answered, the appropriate warning and hazard labels you would be correct.

Whether the product is used in a factory, home, or in the field there are always "accidents" waiting to happen. Most "accidents" are caused by operator error and thus the requirement that warning and hazard labels must be affixed to our products.

TPA knows that engineers and other technical staff rarely have the time to create and properly locate effective warning and hazard labels. At TPA we utilize the latest ANSI standards in the creation of product labels and descriptive icons for use on the product and in the manuals.

At TPA we can not only design the appropriate labels for you, but we can manufacture them in any quantity you so desire.

OHSA Gag illustration


How CAD files can reduce your publication costs

Before the advent of current technology, the expenses associated with technical illustrations are substantially higher than today's cost structure. In the past, a company created engineering drawings and then incurred further outlays in turning those drawings into illustrations for owner/operator manuals. This former process involved illustrators who would create artwork from engineering blueprints or actual photographs, thus doubling the amount of labor required to create an illustration.

With today's technology, TPA can import your solid-model CAD data and create high-quality digital illustrations directly from your files. With our software, we can utilize your CAD data to create step-by-step illustrations and exploded-view drawings. This new technology greatly decreases the time required to create illustrations in comparison to older and more labor-intensive methods.

Examples of CAD to Technical Illustrations for Manuals

More ROI with CAD files

Many companies have highly skilled engineers designing their products along with new product innovations. These same companies also maintain skilled marketing teams highly competent in both visual and audio presentations. In many instances, TPA has become the bridge between these two separate disciplines. With our assistance, engineering CAD files have been combined with marketing and sales presentations to create not only outstanding marketing materials, but also interactive field service materials.

TPA utilizes programs such as Illustrator, Photoshop, Composer, and SolidWorks in assisting your marketing team to create great illustrations utilizing your own engineering CAD files. Simply put, we allow your engineers and marketing teams to focus on their core competencies, while we focus on providing clear and concise marketing and product illustrations.

The illustration below clearly demonstrates how TPA utilized engineering CAD drawings to create a photorealistic illustration and cutaway of a track-type tractor. We then partnered with the marketing team to further define the features and benefits of this product.

Illustration of CAD to Marketing Illustration

Better Product Knowledge Leads To Better Presentations And More Sales

The most sophisticated sales staff with a "Best In Class" product will fail to close the sale if the client cannot visualize the benefits derived from the purchase.  TPA's twenty-three years of experience in technical illustration and our knowledge of your product line, allows us to create artwork which shows your customer the benefits they derive from your product.  The knowledge we gain of your product will come from the direct interaction between your engineering and marketing staff in consultation with our artists.  This knowledge allows us to customize the visual information you wish to convey to potential customers, which helps them see the value in the purchase of your product.

This cutaway of the Guzzler truck allows marketing to clearly demonstrate the operation and product flow without the necessity of destroying an expensive piece of equipment.  The illustration can also be animated to further enhance the visual message you wish to convey to your customer.

Guzzler Truck Animation
Guzzler Truck

Photo Mythbusters

Myth - A photo studio and professional photographer are needed to photograph products, equipment, or parts for operator manuals, parts books, or marketing brochures.

Truth - The skill of TPA's staff combined with today's software can take existing photos or photos taken in non-studio environments and create professional looking results.

Digitally enhanced photos will present a clear and concise message to your customers while staying within a reasonable budget.

Examples of photo manipulation

The top example shows how we maintained a realistic shop background and yet muted it to remove the distractions. At the bottom, our client needed a photo of their lift-gate for marketing. In this case the background was completely removed. 

Product Knowledge = More Sales

A product illustration may be worth a thousand words, but product animation can be worth a thousand sales.

Many times a sale is determined by how well a person understands the unique properties and inner workings of the product. The dilemma is how to get an 800 pound product into a client's office. What's a sales rep to do?

Simple animation, on an electronic device, for example can equip you with a visual tool to clarify how a product works. Understanding your product gives potential clients knowledge and confidence which will equate to increased sales.

Vactor Rodder Pump Animation


Photorealism - The Manufacturer's New "Sexy"

Have you seen emails that circulate showing famous people in their before and after comparison? The "average person next door" look beside the high gloss, soft focus, professionally photoshopped "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" pose.

When a manufacturer has the quality, why not add the beauty. Many manufacturers have really great products that are the best in their industry, but the average CAD model, photos from the field, or the black and white line art just don't do them justice.

Photorealism puts the "WOW" or "Sexy" into the marketing of a product to make it look as good as it performs. After all, when's the last time you turned your head to take another glimpse of that "HOT" piece of farm machinery?

HCC Smart Till Illustration


Importance Of Technical Writing Part 2 "Safety"

The rule to follow for designing a product is "if you have a hazard and you can't eliminate it or guard against it, you must warn about it."

First of all, the major benefit of providing your consumers with as much safety information as possible is to help them prevent an avoidable accident. no one wants to get hurt, and as a business owner, we do not want anyone to be hurt or disabled as a direct result of our product or product support literature. You can't eliminate consumers who do not use common sense when using your products, but if you can prevent injury by making them aware of the hazard, do it.

Another important reason for safety information is limiting damages awarded from a product liability lawsuit. Nothing can stop you from being sued. In fact, from what we understand, lawyers start out suing everyone involved and then drop those whom they know will not be able to pay large settlements. If you don't think limiting your liability is a major concern, go to a retail store and look at a lawn mower or a ladder. To put any more warning labels on a ladder, the manufacturers are going to have to redesign it with more surface area.

So, as we see more and more lawsuits, you need to provide your consumers with as much safety information as possible. It's critical, because a single lawsuit has the potential of wiping out a small business that is not properly prepared.

Providing clear, concise safety information can help reduce or eliminate the damages awarded by a lawsuit. In one case, that was settled out of court, a manufacturer's insurance company paid out a $200,000.00 settlement. Why? Because the product had a built-in step with no hand or grab rails for egress and ingress. If their manuals had included a warning at the time of the lawsuit, they would have won this case. A simple phrase like "…it is the installers responsibility to determine proper ingress and egress requirements, such as steps, hand grips, grab bars,…" would have prevented a $200,000.00 payout. This company told us that over the years since, they estimate they have saved over a million dollars in insurance payouts because of properly documented warnings. If your insurance rates are going up due to lawsuit settlements, it's likely you could have paid for our services with the money now being spent on insurance premiums.

Steve Nichol, President and Co-founder of TPA, Inc.