PTC Media + Analyst event 2009: Club Car

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#5: This is a user presentation I’ve been looking forward to. Club Car (part of the Ingersoll Rand group) make the golf carts. Yes. Those ones. Jeff Kennedy, Engineering Information and Systems Manager at the company has been talking about they’re using Arbortext to cut the costs associated with documentation.

Club Car produces over 100,000 vehicles a year, with over 90 models on 12 platforms, with electric, gasoline, and diesel powered variants. Club Car has three core types of documents; Owners Manuals, Service Manuals and Kit Installation manuals. There are then manuals derived from these for OEM products they produce.

When you throw translation into the mix, with a requirement for 17 language versions of those documents (meaning 100 manuals on top), you’ve got a nightmare for documentation. And of course, rising translation costs and workload without an increase in resources or budget is something many will be familiar with. Cub Car worked with the GilbaneGroup to look at their processes and how to work more intelligently (you can get a copy of a case study here).

With Pro/Engineer being used in the development department, Club Car approached PTC to look into how Arbortext could be used to automate their desktop publishing processes. Alongside the automation potential, content reuse – with estimates indicating that 80% of Club Car’s content has reuse potential in multiple manuals (from product to product, and model year to model year). they also investigated the potential to remove “Graphic Design” line item on invoices to simply save cash. The final challenge was that translation of English text in images was causing higher translation cost and lengthier cycle times.

In terms of implementation, plans saw work start in March 2007, and completed in September the same year for the English style sheet with remaining foreign language style sheet modifications made in-house at Club Car between September and December, 2007. What’s interesting is that Jeff discussed costs and how they stacked up against the savings they’ve made.

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The implementation cost $326,000 for delivery of software and services. The project was finished a few months later than planned, but came in $5,000 under budget. Now, when people discuss technical publication and documentation tools like Arbortext, they often stare at the costs associated with surprise. The reality is that there is huge potential cost reduction to be found with these systems. Club Car is the perfect example. They saved $109,111 in hard cash in the first year.

When you then consider the standardization, easing of workload in a short period of time in a small team, then its clear that the return on that seemingly large investment isn’t too hard to justify.


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