As fast as the fire brigade in the creation of documentation

Global manufacturer of special vehicles / machinery drive a considerable effort for the preparation, timely completion and translation of technical documentation. In order to improve the editorial process, Rosenbauer introduced the content management system TIM of Fischer Computertechnik. Therefore, the world's leading manufacturer of fire fighting vehicles is faster, more flexible and more structured in the creation of documentation.

Around the world professional and volunteer fire departments, industrial and airport fire brigades use the innovative fighting vehicles for the defensive fire and disaster protection from Rosenbauer. The international group headquartered in Leonding near Linz employs over 2,000 employees and is represented in more than 100 countries all over the world. More than 90 percent of its annual sales of about 600 million Euros are generated by the group's companies abroad, while the emerging markets play an important role. Recently Rosenbauer signed the largest single order for ARFF vehicles in its history with the Brazilian state airport operator Infraero who at once ordered 80 fire fighting vehicles of the type PANTHER for the equivalent of about € 30 million.

Fire fighting vehicles are special vehicles specifically configured and adapted according to customer's requirements. To provide the corresponding operating manuals in due time for delivery and in the local languages - within the EU - was a great challenge for the technical writers who due to strong growth, especially in export could barely cope with the existing tools, capacities and processes. Therefore, the company management decided to optimize the heterogeneous tool environment to unify the documentation process by introducing an XML-based authoring and content management system a few years ago.

Essential requirement of the users was the ability to use FrameMaker as editor which limited the circle of the systems in question. Two of them were on the shortlist: "We decided in favour of TIM because it offered the better price-performance ratio and Fischer Computertechnik responded very flexibly to our requirements as a manufacturer of special machines," says David Windhager, Director of Technical Documentation department at Rosenbauer. "It was absolutely the right decision. We are extremely satisfied with the project management and supervision of the system manufacturer. The common project team of Rosenbauer and Fischer Computertechnik worked excellently together during the implementation."

Rosenbauer-Firy fighting vehicles of the new AT-model range - are supplied with customer or vehicle specific operating instructions thanks to TIM

Completely new documentation

During the implementation of the new solution, the project team decided to cut off old habits, i.e. structure, contents and layout of the documentation etc. were newly built, taking into account the current standards. This was substantially favoured by the fact that Rosenbauer was just developing the new AT series of fire-fighting vehicles for the municipal sector that thanks to TIM is now supplied with customer or vehicle specific operating instructions. Despite the necessary preparatory work for the definition of the concept of metadata and the adaptation of the Document Type Definition - Rosenbauer uses the Fischer Computertechnik's DTD optimized for engineering - the editors could start with productive work after three months only. The conversion from the document-based way of working to the creation of text blocks caused them no problems.

In the meantime, Rosenbauer created manuals for more than 100 vehicles of the new AT-series with TIM. Therefore, the users had created about 2,500 German and 700 English text modules, in addition, also a number of modules in various other languages are put in the CMS. When editing new text blocks it is possible to access to tested phrases and concepts thanks to the new interface to the authoring support tool [i]-match.

Rosenbauer will gradually document more product/vehicle lines with TIM and create besides the operating instructions also the assembly and installation instructions and repair manuals with the XML-based authoring and CMS system. Furthermore, it is planned after the successful implementation to connect the maintenance system RSP + in order to make use of the information included in the text blocks of the service manuals, e. g. regarding the maintenance intervals for the planning and scheduling of maintenance work.

„We decided in favour of TIM because it offered the better price-performance ratio and Fischer Computertechnik responded very flexibly to our requirements as a manufacturer of special machines" (David Windhager, Director of Technical Documentation department at Rosenbauer).

Savings in translations

Rosenbauer creates German and English documentation generally in house, all other language versions - including Arabic and Farsi - are handled either by external translation agencies or the local offices. The Machinery Directive requires the company to provide the documentation in Europe in local languages. The use of the new content management system helps to save translation costs, because only new or changed text blocks have to be translated. In former times, the translators were submitted always the complete document in which they often had to make layout adjustments, for which they had to be paid for, of course.

TIM accelerates the process of creating documentation and simultaneously improves the documentation's quality. Without the new system Rosenbauer would not be able to deliver fire engines of the AT-product line which are built in relatively large quantities with vehicle-specific operating instructions. "Today, this is an important requirement of our customers some of them have individual requirements with regard to the structure of the documentation," says Windhager. "Thanks to the flexibility of TIM we can continue to meet with these requirements without much effort." Previously, buyers of municipal fire-fighting vehicles received a standard manual with all kinds of equipment which were not even installed in their vehicles under certain circumstances.

The vehicle specific operating instructions can not yet be created by just clicking a button, because many vehicles are manufactured according to the customer-specific adjustments that have to be researched by the editors first on-site. However, longer-term goal of Rosenbauer is to automate the publication process largely. "With the XML-based solution, we are also able to publish the content on the web or to provide it to the maintenance technicians on mobile devices," says Windhager. "We are prepared for the documentation requirements for the future."

Text: Michael Wendenburg, Sevilla (

"With TIM we are able to publish the content on the web or to provide it to the maintenance technicians on mobile devices" (David Windhager, Director of Technical Documentation department at Rosenbauer).