Smart factories require smart documentation

Faster product lifecycles, ever-more complex systems and a large range of product variants are providing big challenges to industrial production and technical documentation. But how does the Internet of Things change the manufacturing industry as we know it? Do smart factories even require any technical communication or will the smart product of the future simply explain itself? What will the job of technical writers look like in five years?

Text by Alexander Hoffmann


Smart factories require smart documentation

Image: © wowomnom/

The age of smart everything

Thanks to the Internet, everything – from phones and fridges to factories and shopping systems – has become smart. But wait: Why is everything suddenly smart? Does that mean that the first programmable computer back in 1941 wasn’t smart? Context and communication are what set today’s products and systems apart. So why should a microwave be able to communicate?

Often, only elaborate combinations of not-so-intuitive power, wattage and time settings will achieve the best microwave results. This is basically good for technical writers because there are a lot of functions to be described. But if you connect the microwave to the Internet and to a smartphone app, all you need to do is pop your food in, scan a barcode and voilà: the perfect microwave burrito. No instructions needed. In the future, the majority of everyday physical objects will be connected to the ...