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Instruction manuals: questions & answers

 - Technical information

Climbers, alpinists and outdoor enthusiast often contact C.A.M.P. to ask technical information about our products and how to use them. Recently we received a question about the instruction manuals attached to our products: in fact this is an interesting topic which is useful to everybody, so we prepared a complete answer and information as follows.

Here is the question we received: ”I have just bought 8 Nano 22 carabiners: each of them weighs 22 grams, while the corresponding manual weights nearly three times as much! Would it not be possible to supply only one manual for 8 Nano 22 carabiners, only in my native tongue (as opposed to having 20 languages), eliminating any reference to all the other carabiner models I do not really need and shorten the text, most of which seems pointless to me? This way, you would save on paper and would make the manuals more readable.”

At first sight, in fact, it may seem absurd to supply such a bulky instruction manual. But if we go deeply into this matter, we quickly discover why instruction manuals have to be made in this way.

- Why do we supply 8 instruction manuals for 8 identical carabiners?
European Laws compel us to supply customers with an instruction manual for each sale package. If the client buys a box containing twenty carabiners, it is possible to attach only one instruction manual; if he or she buys the same carabiner eight times, instead, we are obliged to supply an instruction manual for each item.

- Why twenty languages?
Here, too, European Laws compel us to compile an instruction manual in the language of each individual European Union State Member, where the item is sold. Since we sell our products in all EU countries, this means a great deal of languages. What’s more, our products are sold in 80 countries in the world, where people don’t speak your language, but want the manual to reflect their own. To tell you the truth, despite caring for 20 languages, we are still far from making everyone happy.

- Why don’t you supply a single instruction manual for every language?
Quite simply, management costs and the amount of paper employed would be far greater. Each manual is made up by 22 pages, containing both illustrations and general guidance common to 20 languages. For this reason, crafting a manual for each language would correspond to having 440 pages, instead of the current 22 for these common parts. To cut a long story short: we now use 60 gr of paper against the 250 we would need to craft 20 instruction manuals in 20 languages. Not to mention the difficulty of estimating how many manuals are necessary in each language, the paper waste if such estimates are wrong or the texts needing to be updated.

- Why don’t you supply an instruction manual for each product?
Most of the carabiners are sold in quickdraws containing three different cat. 3 (protection against risk of death) PPE (two carabiners plus their joining sling). In this case, we could have supplied three instruction manuals. We decided, instead, to craft a single one, common to all three PPE of a quickdraw, reducing the paper weight for each quickdraw to only 60 gr instead of 180 (i.e. 20 gr for every PPE as opposed to 60). This solution is particularly interesting if applied to the 6-quickdraw pack (we sell many of them), where the 18 PPE (12 carabiners and 6 slings) are associated with only one manual, corresponding to 3.3 gr of paper per PPE in 20 languages. We certainly cannot talk about any waste here!

- Why so many illustrations and texts?
We may reduce the texts and simply use explanatory drawings, without any translation. Recent studies, however, have shown that the interpretations of an illustration can vary greatly, according to individual cultures. For instance, a trivial smiley ? used to indicate the proper use of a tool, can even be interpreted in a completely different manner by an Asian person. We should also not forget that European Laws and those from other countries impose a great deal of text, which cannot be shortened.

- How can you make the instruction manual more readable?
We do our best to make it more readable. The old folding manual (made up by general instructions, specific instructions and a series of drawings and charts), allowed optimising the cost of paper, but the font used was too small. What’s more, thanks to various updates, they have been substituted by a more readable manual. The font is bigger, the various data are easy to find and each language is given its own spot. The dimensions (why 10,5 cm instead of 11 or 12?) have been studied to reduce waste when printing. We constantly aim at improving: we have chosen a thinner type of paper, eliminating all the information that is not necessary anymore, following product amendments.

- Why don’t you supply this product with an instruction manual in digital form?
We clearly thought about this, consulting relevant institutions to see if it was possible to sell the items with manuals available on the web. Unfortunately, we had no success, since a few customers may not have access to the internet. And so, to comply with current EU regulations, we have to supply paper manuals. C.A.M.P. is nonetheless working towards a paper/digital manual provision instead of a full paper one, after the European Law changes in 2018. At the moment, however, should you lose the paper manual, you can download it as a pdf from our website.

One last word: the more languages, carabiner models and PPE categories are to be found in one single manual, the more paper you can save and costs are reduced. This may not be true, when thinking about the sale of 8 identical carabiners in one country, but it works when considering the overall quantity of carabiners and quickdraws sold by C.A.M.P. all over the world. We are of course looking forward to be able to supply our products with a paper/digital manual…