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Posted Nov 8, 2012 @ 7:36pm

Lost User Manuals: No More!

By John Marhoefer

Does this happen to you?

You buy a new appliance or electronic device and it comes with a whole bunch of paper including the manual, warranty card, surveys, other offers and who knows what else.  By hook or by crook you get the device installed and working and carefully put the paperwork including the operations manual in a ‘safe’ place.

And then, one sunny day long after, you realize you need the manual for the appliance but have long since forgotten where the ‘safe’ place is.

This used to happen to me all the time.  I tried a number of ways to get at the solution including duct taping the manuals to the top of the microwave, or to the handle of the lawn mower.

My results led me wonder if there was a better way…

The same type of problem exists for our clients and customers with the machinery and systems that we build for them.  We provide extensive documentation to them to support our work for them.  This includes, most notably, operations and maintenance manuals and as-built drawings.  Back in the way old days, this material was all on paper and submitted in big binders.  In more recent times, our clients receive DVD’s and CD’s with the material thereon.  But many of them still have the same problem of where to store this material until they need it.

Their problem is our problem.  Because when they need the material and can’t find what they received, they call us.  Which is fine, but sometimes they might need this material over a weekend, or late at night or maybe they would simply like to know something about the system, but don’t want to call.

Their results led me wonder if there was a better way…

And then I thought of it!  The solution turned out to be kind of easy and straightforward as a matter of fact.  Just a matter of recognition and connecting the dots so to speak, which is what innovation is all about.

Three related technologies have grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade.

First, almost everyone in the U.S. has or will have a ‘smartphone’ capable of accessing the internet.

Second, QR codes have become ubiquitous as have the applications for their use which reside on smartphones.  (QR codes for example, appear to be obligatory in magazine and print ads where, I must admit, they are of questionable value to me.)

And third, the ‘cloud-based’ data storage model had entered the realm of practical and affordable.

So here’s what we’ve done to solve the problem of lost documentation.

We store the project’s documentation on the ‘cloud’ which can be accessed via a URL that we make and pay for.  We install QR codes with that URL (along with the printed form of it) on the systems and equipment that we provide our clients so that when they need the documentation, they can pull it up right away – standing right next to the equipment they want to service – on their smartphones or tablets.

To date we’ve used this technology on several projects including, engagement content for an experiential marketing activation and a pair of large show doors for a theme park.

Here is an example of a URL upon which the content of a given project would be stored.

EntechCreative.com/qr/12-20882

Pretty good idea huh?  Our client’s love it.  By the way, this is something you can do in your own personal life.   Print your own QR code and link it to your Google documents account.  Store the documents up there and stick labels with the QR code where you will need the information.  Remember, organization is narrowing the search area!

 

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