The technical documentation: quality management and its guidelines

Technical documentation is part of quality management because it must meet strict requirements. Read more about it in our article.

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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Quality assurance in plant documents

The requirements for the quality of machines and plants are high. This also includes the technical documentation as part of the product. Good user information not only enables the operator to use the equipment safely, but also protects the manufacturer from recourse claims in the event of an accident or damage. At the same time, professional quality management of a technical documentation also demonstrably contributes to higher customer satisfaction. Whether assembly or operating instructions, risk assessments or safety instructions – they are all subject to certain quality criteria. Three essential factors make up excellent technical documentation. It should be appropriate for the target group, liability-proof and system-specific. The Menger Group will tell you exactly what these quality features entail and which standards and guidelines must be observed when creating them.

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What does quality mean in business?

Technical documentation is subject to high quality standards. What does that mean in concrete terms? The word “quality” has its roots in the Latin qualitas, which means “condition,” “state,” or “property. In German, quality means, on the one hand, the totality of the characteristics and properties of a product, process or system. On the other hand, quality is a positive valuation, i.e. it describes the quality or class. In business, the concept of quality serves as the most important factor for customer satisfaction. And so the main objective of a company’s quality management is to optimize products, processes and services in the interests of the customer. This includes, for example, simple and intuitive usability, the longest possible service life and also professional technical documentation. After all, avoiding errors is also a clear goal of quality management.

Quality characteristics of technical documentation

The operating instructions form the standard of external technical documentation. They contain step-by-step instructions as well as operating concepts that explain the correct use of a machine or system. There are three essential quality features that an operating or instruction manual must fulfil. They should be appropriate for the target group, liability-proof and system-specific.

  • What does “target group oriented” mean?

    • Clear structure
    • Clear and understandable language
    • Explain operation in an unambiguous way
    • Working with visual elements

  • What does “liability-proof” mean?

    • Comply with legal requirements, security guidelines and EU regulations
    • Use terminology database, document management and translation memory systems

  • What does “plant-specific” mean?

    • General description of the machine and plant
    • Explanation of the mode of operation
    • Writing operating instructions
    • Technical drawings and circuit diagrams

Quality management: these standards, laws and guidelines apply

Manufacturers of technical equipment are obliged to adhere to certain guidelines set by laws and regulations. According to the Product Liability Act (ProdHaftG) and the German Civil Code (BGB), the manufacturer must be liable in case of damage or average. This also happens if the technical documentation does not meet certain quality criteria, i.e. is defective and thus endangers the safety of an installation. Standards serve to create uniform standards – for products, procedures, services and designations. The most important standard for technical documentation is DIN EN 82079-1, which describes what must be observed in the “preparation of instructions for use”, such as a certain structuring of the information and the preparation of the content as well as the presentation. ANSI Z535.6, which refers to the correct presentation of warnings and safety instructions, is another standard used in technical documentation. As a rule, all technical writers are familiar with these two standards. In the case of order-specific product standards, however, careful preparatory work or familiarisation is necessary. If a technical documentation is translated into several languages, DIN EN ISO 17100 comes into play.

The DIN EN ISO 9000ff series of standards and their significance for quality management

The so-called quality management standard is the DIN EN ISO 9000-9004 series, which is a German standard based on the international ISO standard. It serves as a standard for holistic and process-oriented quality management. DIN EN ISO 9000 defines basic principles, terms and requirements for quality management systems in a company. These are important both as information for the manufacturer itself and as proof of certain standards to third parties, i.e. the users of a system. Proof is provided by a certificate issued by an independent certification body. Technical documentation is also produced on the basis of this series of standards. Here, a subdivision is made into quality requirement documents and quality records. The former include, for example, work instructions, while the latter serve as proof of compliance with specified quality requirements.

When creating your technical documentation as an important part of your quality management, you will find professional support at the Menger Group. We offer you well-founded services and software solutions for all aspects of electronic plant documentation and document management. Simply contact us and we will be happy to advise you in detail.