Just as we are now in the age of Industry 4.0, we are also in the 4th generation of documentation.

First, we painted pictures on cave walls and then drew symbols on papyrus to share information. Then thousands of years later, we moved to printed content, first with woodblock printing and then the invention of the printing press. The 3rd significant evolution of documentation was a move to on-screen displays, where the same information could be read simultaneously by an unlimited number of people. But the evolution of content hasn’t stopped there, and now we have documentation 4.0.

Documentation 4.0. is needed to support industry 4.0. and it has the following principles:

Machine and site-specific documentation

If a machine, factory, or site installation can be customized and is, therefore, unique, the supporting documentation must also be unique. Documentation that references components or functions not used or present leads to confusion. Older techniques to support custom documentation such as conditional text are unable to cope with the vast number of options.

Evolving content

Machines, sites, and systems evolve over their lifetime; documentation must reflect these modifications and upgrades. As a result, the documentation must lend itself to this evolution of content. Heavy manufacturing machines have a long life expectancy; documentation must be future-proof — content created today must still be accessible in twenty or thirty years. It should also be possible to perform global updates across publications.

Intelligent content

Intelligent content ‘knows’ about itself; disciplined metadata usage transforms content, making it far more powerful, easier to find, and reuse. Content must be easy to find and reuse to achieve the benefits of Industry 4.0.

Content linked to other systems

Applications in the ‘smart factory’ are often linked together, sharing data to improve decision-making. Likewise, Documentation 4.0 can import information from these applications and automatically build publications. Content can do more than inform; it can also generate revenue. For example, the aftermarket sales of spare parts and consumables make a valuable revenue stream; documentation linked to parts ordering and fulfillment systems supports this.

Localized content

It is always easier to read content written in your first language, but poorly localized content can be misleading or, in the worst case, dangerous. With Documentation 4.0, comprehensive controls ensure the localization process delivers correctly translated content with validated links.

Intelligent delivery

The right content is delivered to the relevant device or platform when needed. Documentation 4.0 provides the latest content, incorporating any upgrades or changes made to the machine. In addition, interactive service documentation portals provide a single point for all publication types.

Intelligent Management

Documentation 4.0 requires powerful management tools to make it work. A component content management system ensures that the content achieves all of the above throughout its life cycle. Audit trails for changes and tools to ensure regulatory compliance are among the functionality required to manage the content.

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