User Manual - Everything you should know

What is the meaning behind the term? What results in an obligation to create operating instructions and which components must not be missing when creating them? The most important questions are answered here...

Technische DokumentationLegislators oblige the manufacturers of technical products to create operating instructions or manuals. The instructions are part of the product. It is intended to enable the user to use the product safely. To do this, the manufacturer must first determine which risks exist as part of a risk assessment. He then has to minimize the risks and specify in technical documentation how the remaining hazards are to be avoided. Errors in the instructions can lead to liability for damage to health and property caused by improper handling of the product.

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What do the terms operating instructions and operating instructions mean?


Often the terms operating instructions and operating instructions are used with the same meaning. Legally, they are no different either. Legislation and standards often use the more general terms usage information or operating instructions.
Instruction manuals tend to be documents intended for private consumers. These documents mainly contain information on the safe use and care of the devices or machines. If you want to create an operating manual, you have to be aware that the reader is usually a technical layperson.

Operating instructions are primarily aimed at commercial users of machines and systems. This technical documentation is usually more extensive. In addition to the specifications for operation, it also includes information on assembly, installation and maintenance. When preparing it, one can assume that the reader has specialist knowledge.


Why does the obligation to create operating instructions come from?


The legal basis for the obligation to create operating instructions in Germany is
the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) and the Machine Ordinance (9th ProdSV). They are based on the Machinery Directive of the European Union (Directive 2006/42/EG).
§ 3 of the Machinery Directive deals with the requirements for the provision of machines and their commissioning. It states that the manufacturer or an agent must provide the necessary information. For design and content, the
§3 refers to Appendix I of the Machinery Directive, which contains detailed information on this subject.


What components does an operating manual contain?


Initially, operating instructions contain information that enables the user to identify the manufacturer and the machine. These are, for example:

Manufacturer's address Machine designation Type and serial numbers Year of construction, technical data (connection values, power consumption, weight, overall dimensions)

The general information for the machine also includes information on the intended use, specific warnings of possible misuse and a list of the safety precautions and protective measures to be taken during assembly , installation, operation and maintenance must be observed. This includes an explanation of the safety signs on the machine.
Another essential part is the detailed description of all work that occurs in connection with the machine:
Transport, assembly, installation, commissioning
Operation (including details of the required tools and supplies) Behavior in the event of faults
Maintenance (including a replacement - and wearing parts list) Dismantling and disposal.
If circuit diagrams or technical drawings are required for the work, these are also part of the operating instructions.


How do you go about creating a manual? Which standards must be observed?


The basis for the content of an operating manual are the standards and norms that apply to the
product. The development itself is carried out according to the specifications for the design of the technical documentation. Specific standards such as:

help here

IEC/IEEE 82079-1:2019 for principles and general requirements for instructions for use.
ISO 20607:2019-06< /strong> with design principles for operating instructions, focus on machine safety.
EN ISO 7010 with an overview of safety signs and graphic symbols.

Once the operating instructions have been created, the form and content are checked for legal conformity, compliance with standards and completeness. This may be followed by a revision.
Depending on the scope of the operating instructions, the use of suitable formats and tools is recommended. For example, texts created in Word can be transferred to Adobe FrameMaker, which optimizes the creation of printouts.
Products that are offered on the international market require operating instructions in the respective national language. Therefore, translations into different foreign languages ​​are often required. The DIN EN ISO 17100:2016-05 "Translation services - Requirements for translation services" helps here, providing information on optimal workflows and quality. tsrequirements.


How to create a user-friendly manual?


An operating manual should always be user-friendly. Simple, clear language helps. If rarely used technical terms are unavoidable, they can be briefly explained in a subordinate clause.

A table of contents for multi-page documents, short paragraphs and clearly highlighted headings facilitate orientation. This is particularly advantageous when users are looking for answers to specific questions.
Illustrations of the machine, from which the position of the operating elements and connections can be seen, are indispensable in an operating manual. When describing work processes, descriptive images lead to a better and faster understanding than is the case with continuous text.



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