It’s a fact: about 1 in 5 workplace accidents in Europe occur during maintenance activities. When assessing these accidents, two of the most common explanations for the accident and the sometimes-serious injuries that result are correct maintenance information not used and correct maintenance procedures not followed.
In other words, it’s not that safety information doesn’t exist or that the procedures are not documented but rather that the relevant documentation is not available to the worker or has gone unread.
What is needed to increase the adoption of the right procedures and ensure that the technical documentation where these procedures are found is read?
Here’s the answer in three steps.
Step 1: Establish a Direct Line to Technical Documentation
Outlining your safe maintenance procedures on paper puts you on the fast track to problems.
Paper manuals are quick to fall out of date as product configurations and specifications change faster than new information can be printed and distributed. Not only does this put field teams at risk, but it also means more costly truck rolls as technicians return to base to search for the right manual.
Digital copies, though, are little better. In many circumstances and on many mobile devices, a PDF copy of a maintenance manual is less readable than the equivalent paper version. While a phone full of PDF files might mean that technicians in the field have every manual they might need close to hand, they remain static documents that can quickly be outdated.
Instead of paper manuals or a PDF replacement, what’s really needed to help keep maintenance teams safe in the field is a direct line to the latest technical content. A documentation portal is an effective solution, a single hub of knowledge with access to everything the field teams need to complete their work safely and efficiently. This documentation portal should be:
Mobile. Maintenance teams should have access to the technical content and procedures they need no matter where they are in the field. If a technician goes offline, they should maintain access to their tech docs, and there should be a sync the moment a network connection is reestablished to ensure that technicians are never out of date.
Seamless. Maintenance teams should be connected to the freshest, most relevant, and most reliable information at all times. The documentation portal should never serve information that is outdated and that might put the maintenance technician at risk. The key to keeping teams safe in the field is ensuring a seamless connection to the best information available as soon as it is published.
Step 2: Drive Adoption by Focusing on the User Experience
Even the best technical content delivered in a seamless and mobile manner will do nothing to keep maintenance teams safe if workers are not comfortable using the portal. Driving adoption of technical documentation in the workplace and making the documentation portal a part of a maintenance worker’s daily life means focusing on that worker’s experience. In short, if the right tool is user friendly, it’s more likely to be a resource for maintenance workers in the field.
Towards this end, three features that every documentation portal should offer are:
Fast and relevant search. One of the leading reasons for maintenance teams abandoning correct procedures is when they feel as if they are wasting their time. A search engine that is slow or that returns irrelevant, out-of-context results does nothing to drive adoption and may even drive teams away from best and safest practices. A fast search engine that provides relevant, contextualized results, on the other hand, discourages guessing at procedures and encourages technicians to follow the rules.
A unique point of entry. Nothing makes it more difficult for a technician to find the information they need than having to search in a dozen different places. One portal for hardware, another for software, and a separate portal for spare parts? It all makes it harder for the technician to find what they need. Fuel adoption by making all technical content available via a single point of entry and cut down on confusion out in the field.
A field-focused user experience. Maintenance teams don’t need mobile access to pages-long descriptions. Instead, experience shows that maintenance activities are most efficient and safe when technicians can see what they need to do. Field technicians need to be able scroll and navigate responsive content on their preferred device and the content – no matter whether it is 2D, 3D, text, video, or anything else – must adapt automatically to the device and its screen.
Step 3: Move Fast, Win Quick, and Consolidate Gains
Rushing a maintenance job can be a recipe for disaster but speeding your digital transformation and getting technical documentation to field technicians can be done fast and help achieve quick wins.
Content technologies such as a Content Delivery Platform, or CDP, are designed to rapidly deploy the engaging user experiences that drive adoption of tech doc in the field by drawing on the technical content that already exists. There is no need to re-write nor do technical documentation teams need to change their content creation processes – a CDP is more than capable of working from existing tech docs.
Implementing a CDP is rapid, and experience reveals that most organizations can have a CDP installed and a field-accessible documentation portal established in only a few weeks. Field technicians and maintenance teams require little to no training if the documentation portal, its smart search engine, and the entire user experience is intuitive.
Finally, CDPs can help consolidate safety gains by offering managers the sort of analytics they need to understand how technical documentation is being used in the field. Managers can track which documents are accessed, of course, but also how much of the document is read and at which point maintenance teams stop reading. With new insights into how procedures are handled in real-life field situations, managers can adapt processes to reflect best practices and encourage safer, healthier work environments.
Tech Doc Driving Safer Maintenance Operations
In just three quick steps organizations can drive measurable improvements in workplace safety. Getting the right technical documentation to maintenance teams when and where they need it, focusing on the user experience to drive adoption of best practice and safe procedures, and doing it all rapidly to generate quick wins all combine to power safer workplaces, happier technicians, and fewer incidents and accidents on maintenance calls in the future.
Want to learn more?
These ten points, and much more information on Dynamic Delivery, are detailed in a white paper Dynamic Delivery: What it is and Why it Matters.