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Documenting factory work


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#1 PatrickO

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 13:39

Last year I was asked to optimise a factory. One of the improvement areas identified was that of skills transfer, and many of the formal techniques seemed unsuitable for several reasons. Workers performed a variety of roles, and every so often moved from one workstation to another. The knew how to operate the machines, but production dipped for the first few days until they reacquired the knack and the rhythm.

It turned out that an 'old-fashioned' technique was the most effective. Wordy manuals were too verbose and quite unsuitable at describing manual tasks. Videos were better but took time to make and view and could not be presented at the workstation. A photo-essay was useful, but photographs present too much information to be clearly 'read' on the factory floor. Line drawings worked the best, but it took days to prepare a single page of instructions and illustrators were hard to come by. The solution lay in Photoshop (well, Corel for this client). The results were encouraging, plus it gave me an excuse to use the camera more often and I claimed the cost of equipment back from the taxman :)

1. Observe the process and take a series of photographs to illustrate the important steps. Lighting and distortion are not a big deal since the photos will be heavily edited later. Here I used a Sigma 12-24mm.
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2. Crop the images to show context and the revelant actions:
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3. Prepare a draft of the instructions with photos and words. Allow the client and the workers to provide some input and finalise the content and photo selection:
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4. Convert the photos to line drawings. I created a copy layer, applied a trace, changed the colour, added a third layer, used a pen and line tool to draw the key areas, used selective merge and erase to blend in detail, used fill, then changed the colour to the company preference.
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5. Now replace each of the photos on the instruction sheet with the line drawings.
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6. Laminate each sheet in clear plastic for protection, then hang the pack of sheets from a chain or some form of binding and leave at the workstation.

Edited by PatrickO, 22 January 2012 - 13:41 .


#2 armando_m

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 13:58

Wow, nice work
I worked with people at a manufacturing line, they do need the best possible instructions, and still they will do unpredictable stuff

Regards,
Armando 
 


#3 FredCrowBear

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 15:50

I very much enjoy seeing how graphics like this are created. Thanks for posting.

#4 the_traveler

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 16:29

Beautiful result.
This part "used a pen and line tool to draw the key areas" seems like it could be a huge amount of work.
And would also make for a great how-to

Lew
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My latest photo oriented blog posts include "Getting to a Final Image - some words for a new photographer."

Pictures and the occasional blog posting about photography and travel at http://lewlortonphoto.com

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#5 Erik Lund

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 16:50

Well done! It takes a lot of work to do these but worth it!

#6 Bart Willems

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 18:29

Very well illustrated - not just the cards, but also the whole process.

One point of consideration - the card used is using full color anyway - I would consider coloring the buttons - or at least the button you want to point out - color coding is very powerful and I wouldn't bypass it.
Bart

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#7 PatrickO

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 18:32

Thanks for the comments, and you have a good point Bart

#8 Eb Mueller

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 18:34

Nicely done! This gives me a good idea how things are done - not that I have a need to do anything similar!
Eb Mueller
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#9 Ron Scubadiver

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 18:37

This is one of the most interesting posts I have seen here in a while as it goes beyond the image and through the entire communication process.
See my photography at http://ronscubadiver.wordpress.com/

#10 Mike Buckley

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 00:11

Absolutely fascinating! Thanks for taking the time to share the steps with us.
Author of "IDimager Version 5 Workbook"
http://howtocatalog.com

#11 Rags

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 16:14

That is terrific Pat

Well done

Rags

#12 Ann

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 17:02

Very well done and perhaps this post will encourage people to become proficient in the use of the truly valuable Pen Tool.

It takes a little practice to learn the "Finger Dance" but the Pen is such a useful tool once you know how to use it.

#13 wildoat

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 10:39

Great job Patrick, very interesting read.

Any chance you could compile a similar set of basic instructions for bankers :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:
 

 

 

 

 

 

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#14 PatrickO

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 13:23

Thanks all.

Banking... hmmm, a satirical application of this technique then? Something like CM Coolidge or even William Hogarth's 'The Rake's Progress'. Plenty of imagery here, from the imposing austerity of the edifices built to impress us as we deposit our salary cheque, to the baudy glitz of the trading room upstairs where young men high on cocaine get to gamble with vast sums of money and take bonuses even when they get things horribly wrong. Maybe even the hand-wringing politicans, grovelling for votes whilst being chastised by their financial overlords for not quelling the clamour of the enraged mob below. Yes, possible, although the scenes may have to be staged a little :biggrin:




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