Sigma Logistic Solutions | Product Support Content Provider




Press Releases

Press Releases

Maintenance is the process of keeping equipment in good working order by regularly inspecting, testing, and repairing it. It is an essential part of any business operation, as it helps to prevent equipment failures and downtime. Downtime can be costly for businesses, as it can lead to lost productivity, revenue, and customer goodwill.


Manintenance

The Importance of Maintenance

There are many reasons why maintenance is important for businesses. First, it helps to extend the life of equipment. When equipment is properly maintained, it is less likely to break down. This can save businesses money in the long run, as they will not have to replace equipment as often.

Second, maintenance helps to improve the performance of equipment. When equipment is properly maintained, it is more likely to operate at its peak efficiency. This can lead to increased productivity and revenue for businesses.

Third, maintenance helps to improve safety. When equipment is properly maintained, it is less likely to pose a safety hazard. This can protect employees and customers from injury.

The Cost of Downtime

Downtime can be costly for businesses. A study by the Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of downtime for businesses is $160,000 per hour. This cost can be even higher for businesses that rely on critical equipment, such as hospitals or power plants.

Downtime can lead to lost productivity, revenue, and customer goodwill. When equipment is down, employees cannot work and customers cannot be served. This can lead to lost productivity and revenue. In addition, customers who are inconvenienced by downtime may take their business elsewhere.

How to Reduce the Cost of Downtime

There are a number of things that businesses can do to reduce the cost of downtime. One of the most important things is to have a good maintenance plan in place. This plan should identify all of the equipment that needs to be maintained, and it should specify the frequency of maintenance checks and repairs. Businesses should also invest in preventive maintenance programs, which can help to identify and fix potential problems before they cause a breakdown.

In addition to having a good maintenance plan, businesses should also have a plan in place for dealing with unexpected downtime. This plan should include steps for notifying customers, employees, and suppliers, as well as steps for recovering data and getting the business back up and running as quickly as possible.

By taking steps to prevent downtime, businesses can save money and protect their bottom line.

Conclusion

Maintenance is an essential part of any business operation. It helps to extend the life of equipment, improve its performance, and improve safety. Downtime can be costly for businesses, so it is important to take steps to prevent it. By having a good maintenance plan in place and investing in preventive maintenance, businesses can reduce the cost of downtime and protect their bottom line.

Product support documentation is an essential component of any product development process. It refers to the technical documents that provide information about a product's design, manufacturing, installation, operation, maintenance, and repair. The importance of product support documentation cannot be overstated, as it helps to ensure that products are used safely, effectively, and efficiently.


Product support documentation

One of the key benefits of product support documentation is that it provides users with the necessary information to operate products safely. Products can be complex and involve many technical details, making it difficult for users to understand how to operate them safely. Support documentation can provide detailed information about the safe use of a product, including warnings, cautions, and instructions. By providing users with clear and concise information about how to use products safely, product support documentation helps to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Product support documentation also helps to ensure that products are used effectively. It provides users with information about the product's capabilities and limitations, allowing them to make informed decisions about how to use it. For example, a product's operating manual might provide information about the maximum weight that it can lift, allowing users to avoid overloading it. By providing users with information about the product's capabilities and limitations, product support documentation helps to ensure that products are used effectively and that they perform as expected.

In addition to helping users operate products safely and effectively, product support documentation can also help to reduce costs. It provides users with information about how to maintain and repair products, which can extend their useful life and reduce the need for costly replacements. For example, an equipment manual might provide information about how to replace a worn-out part, allowing users to make the repair themselves rather than having to hire a technician. By providing users with information about how to maintain and repair products, product support documentation helps to reduce costs and increase the product's overall value.

Product support documentation also plays an important role in product liability. In the event of an accident or injury, product support documentation can help to demonstrate that the manufacturer took appropriate measures to ensure the product's safety. It can also provide evidence that the user failed to follow the instructions provided, reducing the manufacturer's liability. By providing clear and concise instructions for product use and maintenance, product support documentation helps to protect the manufacturer from liability and reduce the risk of legal action.

In conclusion, product support documentation is an essential component of any product development process. It provides users with the necessary information to operate products safely and effectively, reduces costs, and helps to protect manufacturers from liability. As such, it is important for manufacturers to invest in high-quality product support documentation as part of their product development process. By doing so, they can ensure that their products are safe, effective, and efficient, and that they provide value to their users.

Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) is a critical process that involves managing and coordinating the acquisition and lifecycle support of military systems. It is a comprehensive approach to ensuring that military equipment and systems are available for use by the end-users when required, in the right quantity and quality, and at the lowest possible cost. The importance of ILS cannot be overemphasized, as it plays a crucial role in ensuring the readiness of military forces, maximizing operational effectiveness, and achieving cost savings.


Integrated Logistic Support

One of the key benefits of ILS is that it helps to ensure that product systems are available when needed. ILS involves managing the entire life cycle of a system, from design to disposal, and ensures that the necessary resources, equipment, and spare parts are available to support it. This includes conducting regular maintenance, repairing equipment as needed, and replacing parts that are worn or damaged. By ensuring that product systems are always in good condition, ILS helps to ensure that they are available for use when needed, increasing the readiness of military forces.

Another key benefit of ILS is that it helps to maximize operational effectiveness. By ensuring that equipment is always in good condition, ILS helps to ensure that they perform optimally during operations. This can be especially important in combat situations, where the success of a mission may depend on the performance of military equipment and systems, or in high value-high output industries where even the slightest down time could result in significant losses due to loss of production capacity. ILS helps to ensure that military and commercial systems are properly maintained and serviced, reducing the risk of equipment failure during critical operations.

ILS also plays an important role in achieving cost savings. By managing the entire life cycle of a product system, ILS helps to identify areas where cost savings can be achieved. For example, ILS can help to identify areas where equipment can be repaired rather than replaced, reducing the need for expensive new equipment. ILS can also help to identify areas where equipment can be reused or recycled, reducing the amount of waste generated and the associated costs.

In addition to these benefits, ILS also helps to improve safety and reduce risk. By ensuring that equipment is properly maintained and serviced, ILS helps to reduce the risk of equipment failure, which can be dangerous in certain operations. ILS can also help to identify and address safety issues, such as faulty equipment or hazardous materials, reducing the risk of accidents or injuries.

In conclusion, Integrated Logistic Support is a critical process that plays a vital role in ensuring the readiness of military forces, maximizing operational effectiveness, achieving cost savings, and improving safety. By managing the entire life cycle of product systems, ILS helps to ensure that critical equipment and systems are always available when needed, performing optimally, and in good condition. As such, it is essential for organizations to adopt a comprehensive and integrated approach to logistics support to achieve their strategic objectives.

Sigma Logistic Solutions has been providing solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than three decades. Throughout this time the company has built solid relationships with local and international clients to supply quality products and services. The company has grown to be the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation and ILS support services in South Africa.

Sigma employs industry specialists across all disciplines of technical documentation, logistic support analysis, training, asset management, and configuration control. The company has branches in Pretoria and Cape Town that cater to all commercial, aerospace, and defence clients.

The company has been involved in a wide-range of military and commercial projects over the years. Recent military projects include major elements of the South African Army Mobile Air Defence System (MOBADS), the complete Water Provisioning System (WPS), the Milkor Y4 40 mm hand-held grenade launcher, and support documentation for South African Navy frigates and submarines. Recent commercial projects include support documentation for Bell Equipment’s Large E Series of Articulated Dump Trucks and PRASA’s X’Trapolis Mega Train passenger trainset.

Integrated product support and technical documentation services provider Sigma Logistic Solutions has brought technical documentation into the 21st century with its Interactive Maintenance Management System (IMMS). Sigma’s IMMS is being used by Dynateq International to support their Remote Control Weapon Systems for Naval applications.


turret system

At the end of 2022, Sigma Logistic Solutions delivered an electronic documentation solution to Dynateq International for its Super Sea Rogue Remote Control Weapon System (RCWS). This 20mm RCWS is equipped with the Rheinmetall KAE 20 x 128 mm rapid fire cannon and is designed specifically for naval applications as a stabilised primary weapon system for a variety of naval vessels, eg Frigates, Coast Guards etc. The RCWS includes an advanced EOS (Electro Optical System) and auto tracking with a laser range finder for a high degree of accuracy.

Dynateq International, a subsidiary of Reunert, designs, manufactures and supports a suite of RCWS’s, namely, the Rogue Light, Rogue and Super Rogue. This suite of RCWS’s is used across multiple platforms for Land and Sea applications. Sigma is the current technical documentation provider for the Land Rogue RCWS.

Sigma’s proprietary Interactive Support and Maintenance Management System is paperless and web-based, allowing documentation to be viewed on any device, anywhere, at any time. The latest documents are always available online, in one place, and there is interactivity between documents. Being digital allows for extra security, with access via encrypted passwords – two-factor authentication is required to log in to the system.

IMMS brings technical documentation into the digital era, and displays support documentation such as illustrated parts catalogues, maintenance procedures, operator procedures, and technical descriptions.

IMMS allows for convenient and easy spares ordering (including from the original equipment manufacturer) through Data Modules (DMs) using a cart based system. Stock levels can be viewed before spares are ordered, and a stock level warning can be sent when stocks reach a pre-determined level.

As part of their product support tool suite, Sigma offers an asset management tool, recording maintenance and the movement and history of system components. Users can, for example, see when the next maintenance date of an asset is.

Sigma has developed an XML Tool that allows it to easily generate documentation. “Basically, these electronic documents are fully interactive which allow users to jump between documents and diagrams by clicking links and also easily find parts by the use of hotspots within the documents,” explains Jan Van Der Merwe, Business Development: Sigma Logistic Solutions. This reduces the cost and time creating documents, ensures a user friendly experience, and is easy to update. Having documentation available digitally means reduced cost, and availability wherever there is an internet connection.

Documents are produced by Sigma in accordance with the S1000D international specification that covers technical publications. S1000D has been in existence for over 30 years and is used across defence, civil aviation, construction, and the shipping industry. “With the adoption of S1000D worldwide, Sigma seeks to be on the fore front of the development of documentation regardless of format or specification. Sigma can provide a tailored solution to suit any requirements,” the company says.

Sigma Logistic Solutions has been providing solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than three decades. Throughout this time the company has built solid relationships with local and international clients to supply quality products and services. The company has grown to be the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation and support services in South Africa.

Sigma employs industry specialists across all disciplines of technical documentation, logistic support analysis, training, asset management, and configuration control. The company has branches in Pretoria and Cape Town that cater to all commercial, aerospace, and defence clients.

The company has been involved in a wide-range of military and commercial projects over the years. Recent military projects include major elements of the South African Army Mobile Air Defence System (MOBADS), the complete Water Provisioning System (WPS), the Milkor Y4 40 mm hand-held grenade launcher, and support documentation for South African Navy frigates and submarines. Recent commercial projects include support documentation for Bell Equipment’s Large E Series of Articulated Dump Trucks and PRASA’s X’Trapolis Mega Train passenger trainset.


M5 Mortar Airlift Equipment

The 120 mm M5 heavy mortar is the primary long-range, indirect fire, artillery weapon for the Light Regiment of the South African Army Artillery Corps. This tried and trusted mortar is capable of firing a range of explosive, smoke, and illumination rounds over considerable distances. The M5 mortar has been in service with the SA Army for many years and has seen extensive combat service.

The Light Regiment deploys the M5 with a crew of four members per mortar system, together with the laying equipment (sighting system), containers for the equipment and accessories, camouflage nets, and ammunition.

This considerable mass requires air lift deployment by the Oryx Medium Transport Helicopter, using specially designed and manufactured airlift equipment.


M5 Mortar

Airlift Equipment

The airlift equipment comprises two self-contained kits – a 1 500 kg capacity cargo net and a larger 2 000 kg capacity cargo net. Each kit comprises a 5 000 kg lifting sling, a cargo net, and protective equipment for a handler (gloves, goggles, and ear protection), all of which are carried in a special bag. To prevent tampering, once the equipment is inspected and certified, the carrying bag is sealed and a reference tag and log card are attached.

The South African Air Force requires that all lifting equipment used with a helicopter must be annually certified as being safe and the equipment log card must be inspected by the pilot before lifting commences. In addition to annual certification, according to the OEM’s recommendations the slings and cargo nets must be replaced every 10 years.


M5 Mortar

Life Extension

To inspect and replace the equipment manufactured in 2009, in 2019 Armscor awarded the repair and maintenance contract for the airlift equipment to Sigma Logistic Solutions. To save costs, the replacement contract requires the reuse of the metal fixtures salvaged from the existing equipment. These are removed during the destruction process and are examined, crack tested and recertified as being safe for use.

To maintain force capability, a phased approach was employed where some equipment remained in service while others were withdraw from service for destruction and replacement. During the examination and disassembly of the equipment, Sigma personnel identified that most of the equipment was actually still in very good condition. Some of it had in fact, never been used. Sigma then proposed that the Army could extend the life of the 2009 lifting slings and cargo nets if samples of the existing equipment could be laboratory tested and recertified. This would provide additional capability as more equipment would be serviceable thereby increasing the capacity for training, local deployment and overseas deployment.

Sigma’s Project Manager approached the OEM - Avilog, Armscor, Armscor QA, and the end-user with the proposal; which was enthusiastically received. A feasibility study was then drawn-up, together with a plan to test to destruction one sling and one of each net, so that the OEM could certify that the remaining equipment was still safe for use. The lab-approved recertification would also approve the equipment as being safe for use for a further two years, after which the process would be repeated every two years, in addition to the annual inspection and servicing.


M5 Mortar

Laboratory Testing

All the slings and nets were thoroughly examined and any unserviceable ones were rejected. Test subjects with up-to-date documentation were then selected and tested at the accredited Denel Dynamics testing laboratory.

Both cargo nets were tested according to a documented procedure and passed achieving a safety load factor of 4:1, meaning that the equipment could safely carry 4 x its rated load. The sling which was rated at 5 000 kg was tested in a similar manner and achieved a safety rating of 7:1.


The Result

The main objective of the testing and recertification of the equipment was to prove that the equipment manufactured in 2009 was still serviceable and safe for use. This was proven, thereby saving the cost of destroying and replacing all of the equipment. Although there is a cost to the mandatory annual inspection, when this is compared to the replacement cost, the cost saving is in the region of 92%.

As there are a large number of slings and nets in service, the testing and recertification process can be repeated multiple times until a full replacement is necessary due to attrition or serviceable stock levels. Extending the shelf-life of the equipment means that both the end-user and the tax-payer save money, and the end-user gains additional capacity in terms of the quantity of serviceable equipment, without compromising safety in any way – a win-win situation for both parties.


M5 Mortar

Kwatani is a locally owned and operated OEM that has been supplying the mining and industrial markets with vibrating screening and feeding equipment since 1976. To put it simply, Kwatani’s custom engineered vibrating screens size and dewater a broad range of commodities such as coal and mineral ore. Kwatani’ s vibrating feeders are used for feeding a broad range of materials of varying densities and particle sizes. With some applications requiring material throughputs of up to 7 000 tons per hour of heavy metal ore, Kwatani’s machinery must be rugged and reliable.


mining equiptment

Leading-edge design and high-quality manufacturing take care of the resulting equipment’s efficiency and durability but regular and effective maintenance is required to avoid unnecessary downtime. At the 2019 SA Manufacturing Expo, Kwatani and Sigma Logistic Solutions teamed up to create a new line of maintenance documentation. Kwatani’s CEO Kim Schoepflin required an Operator and Maintenance Manual for each of the company’s range of products covering:

  • Vibrating screens
  • Vibrating feeders
  • Rectangular separators
  • Round separators

The concept had to include generic information related to safety, handling, operation, and maintenance in the first part of the manual, along with a data pack specific to a client’s machine in the second part of the manual. Each manual also includes fault finding information that allows a client to self-diagnose faults which can be critical where mines are in remote locations.

Sigma developed the concept in conjunction with Warren Mann, Kwatani’s Business Development Manager - Industrial. The concept takes text and graphical information and presents it in a clean, concise, easy to read page layout.

Sigma are also developing marketing leaflets for Kwatani’s complete range of products – from vibratory screens and feeders to exciter drive mechanisms and industrial fine separators.

Sigma Logistic Solutions (Pty) Ltd has been providing quality logistic support solutions to the South African commercial and defence industries for more than 30 years. Throughout this time the company has built solid relationships with local and international clients and has grown to be the largest supplier of technical documentation and support services in South Africa.



What’s It All About?


“Those who fail to plan – plan to fail.” Winston Churchill

Integrated Logistic Support or ILS is defined as – “An integrated and iterative process for developing a support strategy that optimizes functional support, leverages existing resources, and guides the system engineering process to quantify and lower life cycle costs by decreasing the demand for logistics thereby making the system easier to support.”


Integrated logistic Support

The above definition can be more simply put as:

  • Define the required support
  • Design for support
  • Acquire the support
  • Provide the support

ILS is a technique originally developed by the US Army in the 1960s. It arose from the need to ensure that almost any manufactured item should have supportability considered during its design and development, as well as throughout its entire life cycle. In this way the lowest affordable life cycle cost is achieved for an item or system.

Through a series of modelling techniques, the ILS process tries to identify as early as possible in the system engineering process any reliability, maintainability, testability, and availability issues in order to influence the system design and to add improvements.

The ILS management process facilitates the specification, design, development, acquisition, testing, implementation, and support of systems. Although originally developed for complex military systems, ILS is now widely used in commercial product support and in customer service organisations.


Logistic support analysis

Defining Support

The goal of ILS is creating products and systems that last longer and that require less support, thereby reducing costs and increasing the return on investment. To achieve this, the ILS process employs a number of metrics that interact with each other to assure the highest level of system availability.

The logistic analyst employs a series of tools and procedures within the LSA (Logistic Support Analysis) process to analyse all aspects of the equipment to achieve the highest level of system maintainability and availability. Among these are the following:

  • The development of a Functional Breakdown Structure (FBS) and a Physical Breakdown Structure (PBS)
  • Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) and reliability modelling
  • Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA)
  • Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) analysis
  • Level of Repair Analysis (LORA)
  • Maintenance task analysis and support resource analysis
  • Spares modelling and supply chain optimisation
  • Life Cycle Costing (LCC) analysis.

The data obtained from the processes listed above feed into the following ILS elements:

  • Maintenance planning (preventive and corrective)
  • Support and test equipment requirements
  • Technical data and support documentation
  • Training and training documentation
  • Computer resources and support facilities
  • Packaging, Handling, Storage, and Transportation (PHS&T)
  • Manpower and personnel requirements.

When all the LSA process outputs are combined into a single, Integrated Logistic Support Plan (ILSP), the plan ensures that each of the elements is correctly addressed, resourced, and implemented to enable the system to achieve the defined operational readiness levels from commissioning through to the end of the product or system’s operational life.


product support

The Final Word

Logistic support analysts are specialists that process data to provide vital inputs to the design and support of the product or system. The more complex the system, the more vital is the role that they play as part of the greater design, manufacturing, and support team.

It could be argued that the time and money spent on a process such as LSA could be better spent elsewhere. But such a statement ignores “the bigger picture”, which is the long-term support of the product or system. On a system such as a ship or commercial airliner, the support costs incurred over the 30 or more years that the equipment will be in service, are substantial. Therefore the proper implementation of LSA in the early stages of a project will result in potentially huge savings throughout the life cycle of the equipment. Further benefits are the efficient supply of ILS elements such as spares provisioning, training, and maintenance.

Sigma Logistic Solutions has been providing technical documentation and integrated logistic support solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than 30 years. We are the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation services in South Africa and count Armscor, the SANDF, PRASA, and Bell equipment among our many local clients; and Rheinmettal Air Defence, Kärcher, and Pilatus among our international clients.


life cycle costing

The Technical Illustrator

The technical illustrator is a specialist whose skills complement the technical author to help inform and instruct the reader of the technical manual. From the early days when all illustrations were produced at a drawing board using pen and ink, today’s technical illustrator uses software such as Adobe Illustrator, Arbortext IsoDraw, and Corel Designer to create sophisticated, line-based, visual material.


technical illustration

The technical illustrator has at his disposal many techniques to help the reader to understand the product or process. There are the choice of flat views, perspective views or parallel line/isometric views; the choice of full cutaways or partial cutaways; the use of ghosting, shading or colour; and the use of different line weights. Each of these elements has a vital role to play in conveying information to the reader, and in lifting the quality of the visual image above that of using just a plain digital photograph.

The technical illustrator’s skills also spread into the manipulation of digital photographs and scanned images through image software such as Adobe PhotoShop.

The Exchange of Information

In the old days illustrations were created from scratch using engineering drawing, photographs, and sketches. An important aspect of the digital age is the ability that once digital information has been created, it can be reworked, added to or amended using other software.

For example, a CAD designer can design a component in software such as SolidWorks, AutoCAD or ProEngineer and this information can then be imported into an illustrating program where it can be rotated as required, the manufacturing information removed, and shading and annotations added for it to be used in a maintenance manual. This offers major cost and time savings.

The CAD data also usually contains all the component information (e.g. fasteners, seals etc.) allowing the technical illustrator to dissect or explode the parts and the assembly order for use in parts manuals or prescriptive text as required.

Perspective and Isometric Views

Reality is viewed in perspective – where items that are further away from the viewer appear smaller, items that are closer appear larger, and where there may be one or more vanishing points. Although this approach can be used for technical illustrations, it is usually preferable to use a parallel line approach, otherwise known as an isometric view. The isometric view is the most commonly used method for displaying spatial objects in technical illustrating.

Using an isometric view, the object or assembly is drawn at a 45° angle allowing components to be extracted, exploded, and reused multiple times without the size, angle or perspective changing.


technical illustration

In addition, when drawn to scale, all measurements and the sizes of objects have a direct relationship to each other – meaning large items appear larger than smaller items regardless of how far away they are from the centre of the object.

Being able to reuse common items or items already constructed in isometric view, saves time and effort and allows the items to be used across multiple illustrations and manuals.

Cutaways, Ghosting, and Exploded Views

The technical illustrator uses partial cutaways or full cutaways to peek under the skin of an item to reveal the components that lie beneath. When source material from a CAD model is used, this is much easier as the orientation and location of all the items that lie beneath the skin is accurate.

Ghosting is similar technique to using a cutaway but instead of actually cutting away the outer cover, it is made transparent or partially transparent to reveal the items underneath. For example the bonnet of a car could be ghosted to reveal the engine underneath or the car doors could be ghosted to reveal the seats and the interior. Due to the time and cost involved in preparing ghosted images, ghosting is usually employed on items such as cover artwork, posters and promotional material, not specifically in technical manuals.

Exploded views are typically used in illustrated parts catalogues to show the relationship of parts to one another, and in maintenance manuals to show the sequence of assembly or disassembly of parts. In an isometric illustration, parts are exploded or moved along an assembly line or axis in sequence.


technical illustrator

Line Weights, Callouts, Annotations, and Emphasis

The technical illustrator uses differing solid line weights to convey shape and form to line art. The “thick and thin” technique uses two line weights – thick lines are typically used for the outline of the object and thin lines for the surface detail. The specific line weights vary per specification or company style guide but thick lines are typically twice the thickness of the thin lines. Dashed lines are used to show centre lines and axes along which items are exploded.

Annotation lines or leader lines are used to link items in the illustration with numbered annotations or explanatory text. In good technical illustrations, where an annotation line passes over detail on the illustration, a white shadow is applied to the line to create a “drop out” to distinguish the annotation line from the illustration itself (see item 3 on the “Callout” illustration).

Callouts are an enlarged section of an illustration that allow more detail to be shown. These may be placed in a circle or square and are linked to the callout area on the illustration by an annotation line or ‘comet’. Callouts add value to the illustration and assist the reader.

The experienced technical illustrator can also add a lot more emphasis and interest to an illustration, if allowed to do so, with the subtle use of colour, shading, patterning, and highlights on threads and curved items.

Working With the Technical Author

The technical illustrator and the technical author work together to the benefit of the client and the end-user of the manual. The author identifies the illustrations, type of views, and annotations that he or she requires to accompany the text. The illustrator discusses the requirements with the author to find the best way of depicting the information, especially when callouts or detailing is required.

The illustrator searches existing material, libraries, CAD models, and then traces or creates the illustration from scratch to accurately portray the author’s requirements.

The Final Word

It could be argued that creating technical illustrations is expensive and that digital photographs will often be sufficient. Unfortunately the digital photograph can itself suffer from quality issues (lighting and exposure) and does not photocopy well. Another important issue is that photographs are difficult to amend if changes have been made in the design, and photographs reflect reality – showing perspective and magnifying lens distortions (e.g. wide angle lenses cause converging vertical lines, and zoom lenses compress distance) – neither of which is suitable in good technical manuals.

A trained technical illustrator brings to the table a wealth of experience in how best to portray the views required by the technical author. The illustrator’s artwork lifts the quality of the technical manual to another level – one that reflects the quality of the product, and adds value and ease-of-use to the end-user.

Sigma Logistic Solutions has been providing technical documentation solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than 30 years. We are the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation services in South Africa and count Armscor, the SANDF, PRASA, and Bell equipment among our many local clients; and Rheinmettal Air Defence, Kärcher, and Pilatus among our international clients.


exploded views


“Why do we need manuals when, no one reads them anyway?”


What’s It All About?

Technical manuals have been around since the invention of the first complex piece of equipment. These books were motivated by the need to instruct operators on the safe and correct operation of the equipment and for technicians to know how to maintain and repair it. The military expanded and developed the idea of maintenance intensively through the concept of Integrated Logistic Support (ILS), which brought together support elements, such as availability, spare parts, scheduled maintenance intervals and tasks, repair tasks, inspection cycles, and training in both operation and repair.



tehcnical authoring

Manuals come in all different shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity; from installation manuals to user manuals; and from maintenance manuals to parts manuals; with many others too. Regardless of the type of manual, it’s probably a fair assumption that very few people actually have anything good to say about them. People always tend to complain about the manuals. But why is this? Lack of content, poor writing style, poor illustrations, inconsistent terminology, etc. - the list is endless. In an ideal world, the support manuals should be as good as the product they accompany but they usually aren’t. The reasons for this are many and complex but usually hinge around cost, time, and the level of importance attached to them.

Many manufacturers get their engineers to write the manuals – the logic being that the engineers and designers know the product best, regardless of whether the subject is software or a hydraulic pump. This is a common approach but one that misses the point that engineers are far removed from the end-user, and often don’t take into account the end-user’s skill levels, training, capabilities, and even their home language. There are also other issues to be considered such as the type of workshop facilities available and the availability of tools and special tools.

A trained specialist technical author takes all of the above into account. In addition, they take into account inputs from a logistic support analysis and/or the manufacturer in terms of the level of supportability, the scheduled and non-scheduled maintenance activities, suitable in-text warnings and cautions, and the optimum use of illustrations to accompany the text.

Preparing the manuals properly results in benefits all round – operators are properly trained in the use and daily operation of the equipment, and technical staff are able to maintain the equipment throughout its life cycle and to procure and replace spare parts correctly and safely. All of this leads to cost savings and availability for the end-user and reputation enhancement and repeat sales for the manufacturer.

The Next Step

Although paper-based manuals are still with us nearly 40 years after the creation of the desktop computer, on-screen technical manuals offer huge benefits to both the end-user and the manufacturer. From simple PDF (Portable Document Format) documents to full IETPs (Interactive Electronic Technical Publications), computer-based manuals allow the interlinking or hyperlinking of separate manuals (e.g. parts manuals with workshop repair manuals) and the use of active content such as video and animated material in training and maintenance manuals.

IETPs also allow manuals to leave the workshop environment, allowing technicians to take an entire suite of manuals to the equipment in the field via laptop computers, tablets, and hand-held devices. The US military took this step many years ago to support their wide-range of complex equipment. Their technical manuals are kept up to date by allowing globally-dispersed forces to access a cloud-based portal where the latest amendments and revisions are available for download or direct access.



Interactive technical manual

Global Interaction and Support

More than 20 years ago, the S1000D specification was developed by major European aircraft manufacturers as a means of standardising the interchange of technical information for use in technical manuals. The concept was to create support information (descriptive, procedural, operational, maintenance, parts, fault-finding, and training etc.) in data modules and to locate these in a Common Source Database (CSDB) that would allow the modules to be compiled as required into a variety of different manuals. Each data module was allocated a unique item identifier code that was specific not only to the equipment type but also to any model variations.

The benefits of this approach were numerous and represented a paradigm shift in the way that technical manuals were produced for those using S1000D. Among the benefits for suppliers and sub-suppliers were the following:

  • The standardisation of document creation software
  • The creation of small, individual data modules instead of entire manuals
  • The ability to amend individual data modules as required, instead of entire books
  • Having a clear template for the type of support information required per product/system
  • The concept of “write once – use many” meaning that once a data module was created, it could be reused many times across many different types of manuals

For the main equipment suppliers such as Airbus, the benefits were even greater. They no longer had to attempt to integrate different types of information, in different formats, from different suppliers, produced on different software platforms into individual books with consistent formatting and content. Each data module received from a supplier was entered into the CSDB using its unique number. This information would then be extracted from the CSDB according to the specific requirements for the relevant manual (e.g. Operator Manual, Maintenance Manual, Parts Manual, Wiring Diagrams Manual etc.) and then be automatically formatted according to a stylesheet or Document Type Definition (DTD) into an on-screen manual for distribution electronically or by printing on paper.

S1000D has been so successful that it has been adopted not only by major military and commercial system suppliers such as Airbus and Boeing but also by many armed forces such as those of the UK, US, and most of Europe. The specification now accommodates virtually all land, sea, and air product/systems.

The Final Word

In an increasingly complex world where equipment is becoming more and more high-tech, the importance of the safe and correct operation of equipment, and the implementation of cost-effective maintenance to ensure reliability and good service, are of critical importance.

To this end, technical manuals should not be viewed as a “necessary evil” or something to be “thrown together” at the last minute but should rather be seen as an essential part of the design, manufacturing, and support process. Top quality products should have top quality manuals, and those manuals should form an integral part of the product throughout its entire life cycle.

It is not necessary to implement a system such as S1000D where more simple products are concerned but taking a structured, professional approach to supporting such a product, and keeping in mind the needs of the end-user, is the responsible approach that results in benefits for everyone.

Sigma Logistic Solutions has been providing technical documentation solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than 30 years. We are the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation services in South Africa and count Armscor, the SANDF, PRASA, and Bell equipment among our many local clients and Rheinmettal Air Defence, Kärcher, and Pilatus among our international clients.



South African developer and supplier of defence and security products, Milkor, was recently awarded a contract to supply 40 mm, hand-held, grenade launchers to the South African Army. Part of the Armscor contract was the supply of a full logistic support package for the Y4 grenade launchers, encompassing a Logistic Support Analysis Plan (LSAP), operator support publications and training, and technical support publications and training.


technical support

Sigma Logistic Solutions of Pretoria have a long-standing relationship with Milkor having worked on the original Y2 grenade launchers for the SANDF, and were once again appointed to handle the Logistic Support Analysis (LSA), publications and training requirements. Armscor specified very tight deadlines for the delivery of the logistic support package which caused the staff at Sigma to put in a mammoth effort to deliver the 28 documents on time.

According to Sigma Project Manager, Pieter Snyman, the full logistic support package for the Y4 allows the SANDF to have full confidence in the application of the weapon and its support for the entire product life cycle. The LSA encompassed physical and functional breakdown structures, Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis (FMECA), Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM), Task Analysis (TA), and the management of codification for importing information into the SA Army Computer-Aided Logistic Management Information System (CALMIS).

As there were changes between the Y2 grenade launcher and the new Y4 unit, user publications and training aids were essential. On the operator side, Sigma produced a fully illustrated Operator Training Manual, Operator Instructor and Learner Guides, an Assessment Guide, Training Wallcharts, and a Training Presentation. On the technical side, Sigma produced a Workshop Repair Manual, an Illustrated Parts Manual, Handling and Storage Manuals, Technical Instructor and Learner Guides, an Assessment Guide, Training Wallcharts, and a Training Presentation.

All the manuals were prepared to the exacting RSA-MIL-STD 122 specification to ensure full compliance and usability within the SANDF. The adoption of the Y4 into service gives the SA Army the ability to use both low-velocity, short-range rounds, and medium-velocity, medium-range rounds in a single, effective, highly-portable platform.



“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”, Benjamin Franklin paraphrasing Confucius.

During troop deployments outside the borders of South Africa, it is critical for the health and wellbeing of our forces to have a clean, fresh, and safe source of drinkable water. With this in mind, the SA Army instituted Project Blesbok some time ago. The project is for a complete Water Provisioning System (WPS) that covers equipment for the detection, extraction, purification, and packaging of water from a wide variety of surface and subterranean sources.


computer based training

This technologically advanced project includes elements that range from simple water pumps and storage tanks through to complex state-of-the-art purification and bottling equipment. All the elements are packaged in modular containers for easy transportation and deployment

A critical element in a system as diverse and complex as the WPS is the training of the military personnel that will operate and maintain every element of the system. In addition to conventional classroom-based Instructor, Learner, and Assessment Guides; Computer-Based Training (CBT) was identified early in the system planning as being a necessity for the project.

Traditional paper-based training documents are typically used in scheduled training courses which often take many months to organise – meaning that it can take a long time to equip personnel with the skills necessary to run the system. CBT in a dedicated facility, allows students and instructors to literally use the system whenever required without planning, scheduling or organising.

Sigma Logistic Solutions was appointed as the logistic support providers for the WPS. In addition to developing the Logistic Support Analysis (LSA) on every element of the system, they also developed all the support manuals, training manuals, and the CBT.

In conjunction with the SA Army School of Engineers at Kroonstad, Sigma supplied all the hardware and software to create a dedicated CBT facility that can accommodate 10 students at a time. The system comprises a server, printer, and 10 workstations all connected on a Wi-Fi network. A projector and screen are also supplied for presentation purposes.

The CBT package provides an alternative training strategy to conventional classroom training by not only allowing time flexibility but also allowing the decentralisation of training. The typical classroom instructor is replaced by video clips, voice instruction, illustrations, and animations. Each learning unit concludes with an outcomes-based assessment.

Assessments are based on multiple questions banks that are either selected by the assessor or by the program carrying out a random selection. Questions can be multiple-choice, true-or-false, short paragraphs, identification-based or by association. The program can also be set up to provide either a general result per student or detailed feedback per question answered. Results are available immediately and can even be emailed to specified addresses.

The CBT package was developed on open-source software which reduced the cost substantially and will allow the end-users to further develop the courseware in the future if necessary. The system will undergo testing at the School of Engineers until early next year, after which final changes will be made ahead of the full implementation of the WPS in 2020.



Sigma Logistic Solutions, based in Pretoria and Cape Town, recently exhibited for the first time at Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2018 held at the Waterkloof Air Force Base. According to Managing Director, Willie Swanepoel, AAD represented an ideal opportunity to showcase the company’s logistic support, technical documentation, asset management, and training capabilities to both local and international exhibitors.


afica aerospace and defence

Sigma is the largest supplier of technical documentation and support services in South Africa, and has been providing solutions to the military and commercial markets for more than 30 years. Some of Sigma’s international clients include Rheinmettal Air Defence (RAD), Kärcher, Berkefeld, and Pilatus. Local clients include Bell Equipment, Milkor, Armscor, the SANDF, Denel, Paramount, and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).

This year’s AAD show was the 20th exhibition and it once again showcased country pavilions and world-class companies and products. Sigma’s marketing staff had the opportunity to interface with local and international exhibitors and to discuss the benefits of dealing with a leading South African company in the field of product and system support. Over the course of the three-day trade fair, marketers met staff at each of the country pavilions and discussed technical manuals, logistic support, and a variety of other services with a wide-range of companies.

In the digital age, the support of complex equipment has become even more important - stressing the need for top-quality support solutions in training, operation, repair, and spares support. Regardless of whether support manuals are paper-based or are digitally hyperlinked on mobile devices; cost-effective, efficient support solutions allow systems and equipment to operate at their best. According to Business Unit Manager, Piet van der Merwe, the show was a great success for Sigma and has opened many doors for further business opportunities locally and around the world.


AAD


Sigma Logistic Solutions (Pty) Ltd has been providing solutions to the commercial and defence industries for more than 30 years. Throughout this time the company has built solid relationships with local and international clients to supply quality products and services. The company has grown to be the largest dedicated supplier of technical documentation and support services in South Africa.


technical documentation

Sigma employs more than 30 staff across all the disciplines of technical documentation, logistic support analysis, training, asset management, and configuration control. The company has branches in Pretoria and Cape Town that cater to all commercial, aerospace, and defence clients. The company is Level 4 B-BBEE compliant and has on-going programmes in support of skills development, supplier development, and socioeconomic development.

The company has been involved in a wide-range of military and commercial projects over the years. Recent military projects include major elements of the South African Army Mobile Air Defence System (MOBADS), the complete Water Provisioning System (WPS), the Milkor 40 mm hand-held grenade launcher, and support documentation for the South African Navy frigates and submarines. Recent commercial projects include support documentation for Bell Equipment’s Large E Series of Articulated Dump Trucks and PRASA’s X’Trapolis Mega Train passenger trainset.

The company specialises in producing all aspects of technical publications and in supplying support engineering services. Technical publications are an often under-valued area of business because design, prototyping, and manufacturing often take precedence over support. However, when one takes into account the full life-cycle of any major system, support in all its forms, takes on a critical importance. For example, vehicle and aircraft systems are expected to remain in service for up to 30 years and require on-going maintenance, spare parts, training and upgrades – all of which require up-to-date technical publications.

Support engineering is a complex area aimed at developing a product support strategy to optimize maintenance and to lower life-cycle costs. This is accomplished through maintenance engineering and Logistic Support Analysis (LSA), where data is compiled into structured support and managed databases.

Sigma will be exhibiting at Africa Aerospace and Defence 2018 for the first time and will be show-casing their technical documentation and support engineering capabilities along with sister company Logtra who are training specialists.


technical manual

Top