After briefly telling the story of the instruction manual, or rather, how the evolution of the world of work, after the Industrial Revolution, has led us up to the recent legislation on work, in this article we talk about how to draft an instruction manual, in particular how we do it in SPAI.
These are, in our opinion, the first questions to start from when you start to plan the drafting of an instruction manual. Clarifying the company policy of the manufacturer is fundamental to start the work in the right way. In other words, how the company wants to deal with those who buy that machine.
Who will transport the machine to the production site?
Who will install it?
What level of autonomy do you want to leave in the ordinary maintenance of the machine?
These are some of the questions that have a considerable impact on the manual that will be drawn up and which, in our opinion, cannot be overlooked.
Until recently, the role of the technical editor, who writes the instruction manual, was marginal. The instruction manual was seen (sometimes it is still seen today) as a burden for the company, an obligation to comply with the law and a cost to be reduced as much as possible. Often the task of preparing the manual was delegated to those who had materially built the machine, who, however, had limited language skills and, at the same time, risked flying over important information taken for granted.
Today, with updates on occupational safety regulations and increased manufacturer responsibilities, the instruction manual has become a key part oft he machine. That’s how the figure of the technical editor has become professionally recognized.
By definition, when we speak of an instruction manual, we refer to information on how to use the machine (or product) correctly, conveniently and safely. The instruction manual uses text, words, signals, symbols or diagrams to convey information to those who will use the machine: transport, install, use, move, maintain.
The main features of the instructions for use concern ease of reference, clarity, simple and immediately comprehensible language.
The instruction manual must accompany the product throughout its life cycle and, according to point 1.7.4 of Annex I to Directive 2006/42/EC, it must contain the following information:
With respect to the information listed above which, according to Directive 2006/42/EC, must be contained in the instruction manual, we at SPAI believe it is essential to pay particular attention to their placement within the text. The Directive does not oblige you to create individual chapters for each of this information, so it is important to insert them where necessary and useful for the correct and safe use of the machine. For example, the description of the machine parts and their functions does not necessarily have to be a separate chapter containing all of them, but the individual descriptions and functions must be found on those pages of the manual that deal with the operating procedure that calls into question them. This is one of the cornerstones of our way of working, which avoids providing the operator with a manual made up of continuous references to different sections of the text, on the contrary, it provides a clear and easy content.