Technical product documentation

Individual companies generally develop their own systems largely depending on the type of work involved and the size of the undertaking, e.g. original designs, drawing revisions, modifications, repairs, new contracts, enquiries and proposals.

These notes provide guidelines for new business routines where both manual and computer based systems are used. They refer to internal communication within companies and between other organizations.

There are five short Standards dealing with the handling of computer-based technical information during the design process.

Part 1: BS EN ISO 11442-1. Security requirements.

This document details advice and precautions regarding the system installation, power supply, ventilation and cooling, magnetism and electrostatic environment, also computer access.

Notes regarding service and maintenance, stand-by equipment and back-up copies are given. Useful comments relate to document authorization and copyright.

Part 2: BS EN ISO 11442-2. Original documentation.

Definitions are provided for various types of document used by industry in the Drawing Office.

Part 3: BS EN ISO 11442-3. Phases in the product design process. Distribution of documents during each phase is detailed.

Part 4: BS EN ISO 11442-4. Document management and retrieval systems. This section deals with activities in the design process and the handling of associated documents, e.g. identification and classification of administrative and technical documents. Provides helpful advice in the management of documentation in parallel with the phases of product development. Assistance also given for drawing revisions, document handling, classification and retrieval of data.

Ready-made 'Turnkey' data-processing systems are available and can be adapted by specialist suppliers.

Part 5: BS EN ISO 11442-5. Documentation in the conceptual design stage of the development phase.

Part 5 deals with documentation in the preparation of a design specification, design proposals and solutions.

Problems can arise from power cuts of short and extended time periods, and from spikes, or fluctuations of power, due to other electrical equipment being switched on. Stormy weather can cause surges and static build ups. A reliable power source with a stable supply is essential. Consideration should be given to the provision of a backup supply, if in doubt. Service and maintenance arrangements may require the issue of external contracts, as computer downtime resulting in lost production can prove expensive.

Computers generate heat, and wide variations in environmental temperatures should be avoided. Air conditioning in the complex may be necessary if cooling is required and clean air cannot otherwise be guaranteed. Part of the computer complex may need to be out of bounds except to authorized personnel, to maintain an acceptable environment. Care should be exercised in the selection of floor coverings and furniture to protect equipment from static electricity. Similarly tapes and discs need to be shielded from stray magnetic fields. Ensure that the CAD complex is kept locked and secure when not in use at night and weekends.

An organization must develop a routine for storing data on which company fortunes may depend. In the even of power failure, work in progress may be lost. It could also be lost due to operator error or computer malfunction, fire, flood, vandalism, etc. Backup routines must cover personal responsibility aspects, together with frequency of copying, storage medium and designated places of safety. Backup copies should not be stored in the same buildings as the originals.

Programs used for operating and applying CAD systems need to be checked at regular intervals to ensure that intended methods are being kept in practice. Computer aided designs and production information could easily be copied and some countries do not have legislation prohibiting unauthorized use. Documents should therefore include a clause relating to copyright where design information is transmitted, it is recommended that the clause should appear before the text and again at the end.

Many grades of staff are involved in the design process; senior designers, detailers, checkers and technical clerks all make a positive contribution. Each member's duties must be carefully defined with rules applied, an authority given, so that each can only operate within his or her agreed sphere of activity. By means of passwords it is possible to access design information at appropriate levels. Revision procedures will ensure that modifications are only made at the correct point by authorized designated staff. Quality assurance systems require strict application of these methods.

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