DCL/SAE Case Study: Engineering a Sustainable Content Conversion Strategy
When it comes to vehicle engineering, SAE International sets the standard. This global association serves more than 148,000 engineers and technical experts in the aerospace, automotive, commercial-vehicle and other industries. The organization’s two priorities include encouraging a lifetime of learning for mobility engineering and establishing industry standards.
From training programs to books, magazines and journals, SAE handles high volumes of data and content that must be delivered efficiently to a large customer base. For example, the association organizes and/or administers about 27 international meetings and exhibitions each year, and nearly 3,000 technical papers and journal articles are produced from these events. These materials are then reviewed for compliance with SAE requirements, published for print and made available online in a very short time frame.
A Mandate for Change
In 2010, SAE faced several challenges that included: a maturing product portfolio; increased competition from for-profits and startups; a need to keep up with the pace of technology; and an outdated publishing system. They realized that to satisfy the increasing demands of customers, they had to rethink their entire production process, beginning with content conversion. Electronic delivery of content was one of their biggest mandates if they were to deliver essential information effectively, and maximize an important source of revenue. This was especially important as they transitioned from print to digital publishing, with the goals of:
- Getting the most out of their vast content library (More than 200,000 technical papers, standards, reports, books, magazines, and other content)
- Creating the interactive content demanded by today’s customers
- Rapid deployment
- Improvement of output consistency and quality
A robust content management strategy would transform how SAE delivered these assets. But before implementing this strategy, SAE needed to convert this content into a form where it could easily be published in multiple formats—and provide flexibility for what the future might hold.
Solution: A Sustainable and Scalable Content Conversion Strategy
SAE partnered (and continues to partner) with Data Conversion Laboratory (DCL) to define their conversion strategy and to move to a highly automated, XML-based process. They engaged DCL to help develop the necessary tools and workflow based on SAE’s previous experience with them, recommendations from several of their customers, and DCL’s proven track record in the industry. DCL helped SAE reevaluate past assumptions, challenged their thinking, and provided options and new approaches for managing SAE’s content library.
DCL’s attention to quality control, and their ability to convert large volumes of complex content with high levels of accuracy, factored into SAE’s decision, too. After all, the engineering standards documents SAE published need to be rigorously accurate; a misplaced decimal point could prove disastrous. In a pilot project, DCL had previously proven themselves able to convert over 300,000 pages of complex, time-sensitive material in just three months, with impeccable accuracy. This gave SAE the confidence to continue working with them on a larger scale.
Teams from SAE and DCL worked collaboratively and agreed that an XML-based conversion process would provide the high-performance functionality they wanted.
Together the team completed a huge conversion project and established a content management workflow that is scalable. With DCL leading the way, SAE has converted over 107,000 technical papers, 3,000 feature articles and more than 10,000 standards. SAE standards are internationally recognized for their role in helping to ensure the safety, quality and effectiveness of products and services across the mobile engineering industry. Among the value-adds XML conversion brings to SAE standards are the following:
- Redlining – Allows users to quickly see changes made to standards revisions, rather than having to compare versions side-by-side. This is a major workflow enhancement.
- SAE MOBILUS – Enhanced standards were central to the re-launch of this subscription-based platform.
- 3D and 2D images of parts – Users can now change dimensions within the standards.
- Data sets – Once limited to PDF, these can now be extracted from the standards in a usable format to the customer.
- Full text searching – This enhances search relevancy and visibility of content.
DCL’s project plan also provided the following benefits to SAE:
- Hyperlinking to related content
- Formatting that is interoperable between systems
- Documents that are both human- and machine-readable
- Discoverability on the web and via library discovery services
- Downloadable to multiple formats, e.g., AutoCAD, CATIA, IGES
- Platform- and software-agnostic
- An open standard that is scalable into the future
- Embedded content for increased functionality
- Enhanced ability to publish in multiple languages
SAE offers the world’s largest repository of mobility engineering information. Now this information can be accessed whenever and however it is needed—enabling SAE members to maximize their success, now and in the future.
SAE International is a global association committed to being the ultimate knowledge source for the engineering profession. By uniting over 148,000 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™.
DCL (www.dclab.com) is a leader in helping organizations maximize the value of their content assets investment through digitization and organization, making reuse easier and providing greater accessibility. DCL are experts in converting content into all structured formats, including XML, S1000D, SGML, proprietary schemas, and others. With DCL’s process, content quality is vastly improved, systems are future-proofed, redundancies are eliminated and revenue opportunities are expanded. With expertise across industries including life sciences, government, manufacturing, technology and professional organizations, DCL uses its advanced technology and U.S.-based project management teams to help solve the most complex conversion challenges securely, accurately and on time. Founded in 1981, DCL is a multi-year winner of EContent’s Top 100 companies.