Information used in the preparation of technical manuals is usually extracted manually from a variety of sources at high cost, low productivity, and high error rate. Despite the growing use of automation in the design and production of modern weapon systems, technical manuals are mostly prepared using only word processing techniques and equipment.
Modern defense contractors are, however, making increasing use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) techniques during design and production. Much of the information developed during weapon system design and analysis is contained in the CAD/ CAM databases such as schematics, wiring diagrams, engineering drawings, mechanical and electrical tolerances, parts lists, task analyses, etc. This data can be used directly in technical manual preparation. Integration technical manual preparation with CAD/ CAM/ LSA databases will provide reduced errors in the completed manuals, an accurate reflection of the as-built hardware, and increased productivity in preparation of the manuals.
During the development of technical manuals, close coordination must be maintained between the contractor and the government. As the design progresses and draft manuals are developed, user inputs must be provided by the government to ensure that the manuals are adequate for their intended use. Government and contractor responsibilities for verification and validation of the draft manuals must be clearly delineated in the ILS plan. To ensure that the manuals are consistent with the production configuration, the contract must designate the equipment that the manuals will be verified against (i. e., first pilot production model, first production models, etc.). The contract also should clearly specify the level of reading comprehensive required and the methods to be used to verify this.
The end use of technical manuals must be carefully considered when developing milestone schedules for their preparation and delivery. Interim manuals needed to support test programs or for the development of training courses should be included in milestone schedule planning. Test programs could be significantly impacted if the technical manuals did not reflect the hardware configuration under test. Erroneous test results could be obtained if the equipment was not operated as designed and test schedules could be delayed if improper repair procedures were used. In addition, interim training manuals are needed to aid in the development of training courses and to eliminate inaccuracies in technical content of the training courses.