XPubs: Information integration and the needs of the (product) maintainer

Sarah O'Keefe / Conferences1 Comment

Chris Wood
BAE Systems

Tech pubs managers at BAE, contributor to S1000D standard.

Electronic maintenance (interactive electronic technical manual, or IETM) has been shown to deliver increase in fault finding success, reduction in troubleshooting time, and reduction in maintenance errors. “Fairly comforting”

Market drivers for integrated information…output-based contracts. The Royal Air Force is asking vendors to take on more maintenance activities. The drivers for success for the commercial organization are different from the drivers for the military.

BAE must guarantee that a specific number of aircraft (“platforms”) are available to fly at all times. Financial penalties for not meeting those goals.

Offshore commodity outsourcing is putting pressure on the prices that BAE can quote. Price “per page” needs to be on a downward slope.

IETM capability offers an opportunity to integrate support information applications and processes.

ATTAC Contract = a certain number of Tornado aircraft must be available 24×7. BAE is responsible for preflight, postflight, AND other maintenance. Spare parts come out of BAE’s budget. Therefore, reducing spare parts “footprint” saves money.

18 million pounds (double that for dollars) over 10 years. Their target is to save more than 18M pounds by including rich data (photos, video, 3D animation), align with actual maintenance activities, tech pubs people on-base as part of integrated engineering team.

Nice example of specific changes in tech docs leading to large cost savings due to fewer returns for repair.

Aha. They improved the official documentation by picking up information that was “plastered on the wall” in the aircraft hangar. In other words, user-generated content!

Information integration…the issue
Too much information, which is necessary and can be integrated, but…who generates it? where? who approves it? who can receive it? is there a recognized authority?

What about information generated by maintenance personnel for use by engineers (the stuff on the wall)? Is there an approval route? How authoritative is it?

In the past, the separation between maintenance and design authority was clear. As the maintenance and design operation moved closer (or become the same in BAE’s case), the needed separation of content becomes much more challenging. Does linking from engineering authority content to non-engineering authority corrupt the authoritative content?

What level of authority does information have? Has it been tested? Have is gone through an approval route?

Approved data architecture. The challenge is to define a data architecture that includes all information issues by the design authority for the purpose of operating and/or mainteaining the platform in services, ensuring it is efficient, effective, and safe.

“This is a major content management issue.” Indeed.

Many information deliverables go through rigorous approval process, but maintainers have access to other information, too. Official deliverables must be more integrated. Reference data and maintenance procedures come from different places in the organization, but they need to be in alignment. And there are “modifications,” which must go in both places.

“This is not a trivial challenge.” Yep.

The conflict here is really between data (approved content) and lore (unofficial information about how things really work). The mechanics have the “lore,” and need to be persuaded to share it to improve the official documentation over time.

About the Author

Sarah O'Keefe


Content strategy consultant and founder of Scriptorium Publishing. Bilingual English-German, voracious reader, water sports, knitting, and college basketball (go Blue Devils!). Aversions to raw tomatoes, eggplant, and checked baggage.

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