Industry > Process

MAN is taking owner’s manuals very seriously

So that drivers can easily find what they need especially during emergencies

In a complicated vehicle like a truck, reading the manual is crucial. PHOTO FROM MAN

Ideally, each car buyer should read the owner’s manual before jumping in and blasting off into the sunset with his or her ride. But in the real world, almost no one does that—only reaching for the handbook when something goes wrong. It may seem pretty routine among automakers to make these books somewhat boring, but for some companies nailing the humble manual is serious business.

German truck manufacturer MAN is one of those entities. While drivers of passenger cars simply have to contend with mundane stuff like adjusting the climate control or jacking up the axles in case of a flat, there is so much more to operating a commercial vehicle like a truck. To put it simply, you don’t want to fumble at the controls of something that weighs at least 20 metric tons while driving down the highway at 80km/h.

Every single aspect of truck operations should be clearly explained in the handbook. PHOTOS FROM MAN

That’s why for the all-new TGX series of heavy-duty rigs, MAN has gone to great lengths to ensure that its user handbook leaves no stone unturned when it comes to vehicle operations. And speaking of length, the TGX manual has 714 A5-sized pages (210mm by 148mm) and weighs a hefty 0.54kg. And while content is obviously important, the arrangement of information is crucial as well. The manual must allow drivers to quickly look up anything they need to find, especially during emergencies.

It took MAN a grueling nine years to get the manuals right in order to comply with various internationally accepted standards and directives governing product use and manufacturer liabilities. And because the company sells vehicles in several countries and territories, these handbooks have been printed in 34 different languages including those read from right to left such as Arabic and Hebrew. MAN is also preparing a web and mobile-app version, as well as integration with onboard infotainment systems.

A novice user should be able to operate the TGX's controls after reading the manual from cover to cover. PHOTO FROM MAN

The fruit of this labor on the part of the truckmaker didn’t go unnoticed as the TGX handbook was recently awarded by Tekom, one of the world’s leading experts in technical communication—defined as the process of creating information products for the safe and effective use of services, software and complex technical systems (like trucks).

One of the definitive tests performed by Tekom was to have its evaluators read the TGX manual from cover to cover and get them to operate the truck’s controls. Having no experience with similar vehicles, the appraisers thought that the handbook was concise and correct, which enabled them to get familiar with the switchgear. The manual earned a score of 1.9, with 1.0 being the best and 6.0 as the worst.

Have you browsed your vehicle’s manual lately?

Miggi Solidum

Miggi is an editor-at-large at VISOR. Professionally speaking, he is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He writes the 'G-Force' column.