Getting Onboard with an Updated Onboard User Manual

Douglas Onboard User Manuals

Change is hard. Let’s say you decide one day that your kitchen needs a fresh coat of paint – a nice, bright yellow rather than the heavy burgundy of years past. Easy, right? All you have to do is pick out the color, grab a brush, and voila! A few hours’ work and you can relax with a latte. Except the yellow didn’t cover the burgundy like you were hoping. So several days and twelve coats later, you and your well-used paintbrush finally persevere. Your yellow kitchen gleams. Your friends and family ooh and aah, and, by the way, the value of your house just went up a notch.

While the Corporate Training Services department of Douglas hasn’t been flinging paint around (though that would be fun), they have been wrestling with the Douglas Onboard User Manual; converting it into a new template to improve its look and function. Easy, right? Well …

Let’s back up a bit. An Onboard User Manual is a machine’s Service Manual converted into an on-screen format that can be viewed and navigated through the machine’s HMI touch screen. The process to convert the file, called Distilling, took an average of 50-75 minutes. During that time, you didn’t touch your computer. You didn’t breathe near your keyboard. If you did more than that, your computer would crash and you would have to start the process again. They didn’t know why. It had just always been that way. You might, if desperate, glance sideways at the sloth-like status bar to see how much time was left before you could resume using your computer. The only upside was that it gave us time to proof manuals, sort through OEM buckets and do other tasks that did not require the use of our computer. The downside was, it wasn’t always at the most convenient time.

The rollout of the new Douglas logo at the end of 2018 provided the perfect opportunity for the team to dig in, investigate the long conversion time, and spruce up the Onboard User Manual to a nice, bright yellow (or a clean, modern look incorporating the new logo). They planned for this process to take about a week.

Five months, help from one Adobe FrameMaker script writer in New York, and several nervous tics later, the new Onboard User Manual was ready for launch. Time to relax with a latte!


But here’s the super fun part. With all the updates and improvements to the template, instead of distilling for 50-75 minutes, we’re down to an average of two minutes. You read that right … two minutes! By rearranging how the text and graphics are presented, the team also reduced a significant number of pages from the Onboard User Manual—which brings the file size down and provides a better experience for our customers, always our number one priority. This change definitely brought value to the customer up a couple of notches!

The easy route would have been plugging the new Douglas logo into the old template and continue working with the excessive amount of time it took to distill a file. That route would not have served our customers, our team, or our company well. It was time to get onboard and make the change. It took teamwork, perseverance and a lot of patience on everybody’s part, but we chose the difficult, yet ultimately more rewarding route: working toward a positive change.

We look forward to help you make the changes you need to positively impact your packaging processes. Contact us today to learn more about the value-add services we offer, our secondary packaging equipment and our commitment to customer value.