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SAE International Creates Recommended Practices for Graphics - Based Manufacturing Symbols

WARRENDALE, Pa., Oct. 21, 2013 - SAE International has created a recommended practice for manufacturing symbols that could save industry millions of dollars annually in translation costs.

J2892: Graphics-Based Service Information” was created to develop icons as well as animation and illustration conventions for use in graphics-based documentation of adjustment, assembly, remove and replace and theory of operation procedures and stories, utilizing a minimum of human natural language text.

The symbols are designed to be universally understood, such as warning symbols on commercial packaging that are designed to protect consumers, or internationally recognized pictorial road signs.

Arnold Taube, a strategic customer support engineer at John Deere and the chair of the Graphics Based Service Information Working Group, which is creating the recommended practice, said the symbols will be universally recognized and save time and money in translations.

“At John Deere, we spend tens of millions of dollars translating documents for operation, repair and diagnostics in 37 languages,” Taube said. “Every manufacturing company operating internationally is in the same boat. When these symbols are complete and in use, they will be applicable for automobile, truck and heavy equipment manufacturers.”

The standardized symbols are meant to reduce the text needed to perform a procedure, assuring that individuals reading the symbols clearly understand them and safely perform the task indicated.

Currently, the committee has created about 60 illustrations or symbols. They are color coded to call attention to the task and help with interpretation. For example:


- Magenta  - Calls attention to a fastener or electrical connector to be removed or disconnected.


- Blue - Identifies a target or primary component to be removed.


- Blue with a white dash - Surfaces where a chemical or material, such as a sealer, is to be applied.


- Red - Indicates a sectioned or cutaway surface.

There also are black and white symbols. For example:


        - An eyeball - Calls attention to an inspection.


- Tube expelling liquid - Indicates where to apply a material.


- Scissors - Indicates where material is to be cut.


- Paperclip - Connect together.

“This is all an effort to reduced costs and communicate around the globe,” Taube said. “A picture is worth a thousand words. If you illustrate, you don’t need text. If there’s no text, there’s no need for translation.”

SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting over 138,000 engineers and technical experts, we drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries. We act on two priorities: encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering professionals and setting the standards for industry engineering. We strive for a better world through the work of our philanthropic SAE Foundation, including programs like A World in Motion® and the Collegiate Design Series™.


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