Using a new mobile-viewing application, product designers
can now publish documentation and assembly drawings on iPhones, iPads and other
software, released last week by Autodesk
Inc. could allow manufacturers to eliminate the time-honored process of
creating hundred-plus-page documentation manuals, instead enabling them to put
2-D and 3-D drawings in a handheld phone, a tablet PC or even in an iPod.
hold an iPad next to the product and say, â€˜Look here, this is how you assemble
it,'" says Raymond Price, a University of Illinois engineering professor who
has seen and used the software. "It takes the translation step out. Instead of
me having to translate, I've got the information in my hand."
application, added to an existing technical communication software product
known as Autodesk
Inventor Publisher, is believed to be the first of its kind. The Inventor
Publisher software is aimed at helping manufacturers explain and differentiate
their products with documentation, even allowing them to import 3-D models into
executives believe the new mobile-viewing application could simplify the
documentation process for manufacturers and improve the interface for their
customers. In many cases, they say, product teams have been forced to assign
dozens of employees to the difficult task of creating product manuals that can
sometimes exceed 600 pages in length. Those efforts often fell short, however,
because the voluminous information they provided weren't always appropriate at
the time and place where they were needed. Autodesk believes the mobile-viewing
app could help change all that.
"This interface is very
accessible," says Keith Perrin, a senior industry manager for manufacturing at
Autodesk. "To capture an immediate thought or an immediate environment, you
need a device with immediacy, like an iPhone."
Customers at a recent rollout of
the software were encouraged by the availability of a mobile application. "This
is going to affect the dad who has to assemble a bike on Christmas Eve for his
kid," says Craig Breckenridge, a senior designer for Dynamic Structures Ltd., a
designer of commercial products and structures. "And it's also going to affect
the technicians in the field."
Perrin believes the new features
could also help bridge language gaps by enabling customers to work in a
graphical environment. "In many countries, customers can't read the
instructions that are written in English," he says. "For someone who's trying
to assemble something in another country, this lowers that language barrier."
Using wireless chips and accessories, engineers can now extract data from the unlikeliest of places -- pumps, motors, bridges, conveyors, refineries, cooling towers, parking garages, down-hole drills and just about anything else that can benefit from monitoring.
With strong marketplace demand for qualified engineers across the board that currently outstrips the available supply, there may never be a better time for engineers and project managers to advance their careers and salaries. Whether those moves are successful in the short-term and long-term is likely to depend on how the transition from one job to the next is handled.
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