Products created and marketed for use in manufacturing and industry often do not receive the same attention to ease-of-use as consumer products. Imagine if a consumer was to buy a new smartphone and, upon opening the box, realize that not only do they have to assemble the phone from its base components, but the instruction manual was written by an electrical engineer and is as thick as the dictionary. What would a typical consumer do in this situation? Reading the manual and meticulously following each step would eventually get them to the desired end result (with about thirty "extra screws" and that one component that probably isn't important). However, the smartphone will probably not get very much use even after it is assembled because the software menus are nearly as convoluted as the instruction manual!
Looking at this scenario, it is clear that such a smartphone would quickly be considered an abject failure. Who would put up with all of that hassle and headache when they could buy a user friendly, easy-to-use Android™ or Apple® smartphone? Nearly any consumer electronics device manufactured by a reputable company is going to include easy-to-read quick start guides, instruction manuals, and often offer compelling online resources in order to get the end user up and running and enjoying their device as quickly as possible.
The logical question to ask is why electronic products produced for the process control industry are not held to the same standard. The first question asked by an equipment
installer should never be "where is the tech support phone number?" Unfortunately, this has become the trend for installers in the process control industry due in part to manufacturers' lack of attention to ease-of-use and user friendly instruction. Here at Precision Digital Corporation, we have been working tirelessly over the past year and a half to bridge this gap between consumer and industrial products.
After conducting market research, it became clear to us that our instruction manual bore the brunt of complaints among users of our products. In response to this revelation, we have been working to improve how we present product information to our users with the creation of quick start guides for many of our most popular products, new mobile learning tools such as the Trident Virtual Meter and instructional programming videos, a recently launched completely renovated website, and an overall continuing focus on ease-of-use with all of our product documentation.
In a world where technological advancements are outstripping many people's ability to understand the intricacies of all of the products we are using, getting "up and running" has become the primary focus. Just as a consumer does not understand how his smartphone works, an equipment operator should not have to understand how every part of a process control system works. This is why being able to provide easy-to-understand product documentation that will allow any installer to get their systems working quickly is critical. At Precision Digital, we are working toward that goal. ■