The AA (Automobile Association) has been converted

Established in 1905 as the Automobile Association, the AA today has over 15 million members and is the largest breakdown organisation in the UK. The AA and the AA Motoring Trust also provide expert knowledge and advice on transport issues, which is respected by AA members, the public, safety experts and the Government.

Since 2003, the AA’s familiar yellow patrol vehicles have been equipped with state-of-the-art roadside diagnostic equipment. The Vixen "ruggedised" laptop computer allows response patrols to plug into a car's electronics to diagnose the cause of a breakdown as well as access to the AA's wealth of technical support information and breakdown deployment details. This innovation won Autocar's idea of the year award in 2003.

In 2005 Rob Sibley, the AA’s technical support manager, was asked to look into the feasibility of extending the Vixen system to incorporate manufacturers’ vehicle handbooks. The handbooks were taking up valuable office space and with the relocation of the customer support centre to Birmingham, this was an ideal time to scan the books.

Rob comments, "The AA's patrols have a legendary knowledge of most common faults but for the unusual problem or the unusual vehicle, they often had to resort to the AA call centre. With the need to provide technical information for all the modern day motor vehicles keeping hard copies of car handbooks on board was not an option! Ideally, we wanted to provide our patrols with a library of handbooks that they could view on their laptops, within the familiar environment of a web browser."

Searching for "HTML conversion" on Google, Rob contacted a number of service bureaux advertising this service. He sent each bureau a sample Vauxhall Manual and asked them to create an HTML version with the same page and index structure as the original.

ADEC Preview Services were selected because, in Rob's words, "ADEC Preview's first attempt was spot on. In fact ADEC Preview were the only bureau to demonstrate that they had a complete understanding of what we wanted."

ADEC Preview collected the original handbooks from the AA technical library in Basingstoke. The manuals were digitally scanned and a page index for each manual was created in HTML. In all, around 2,000 handbooks were scanned and indexed in a very short timescale. sThe original handbooks and a master set of DVDs were then returned to Basingstoke.

Rob is very satisfied with the outcome of the exercise and is considering further improvements. After introducing a 3 step search function using dropdown menus this has made locating the make, model and year even faster. "The improvement in customer service and roadside productivity has been measurable. Previously, the patrol had to contact the call centre for assistance with, for example, the location of the fuse box or bonnet release.

This has not changed in the short term as the customer service team will still respond to the calls, but will now have the benefit of instantly calling up an electronic copy of the handbook instead of having to locate it and then convey the relevant information.

The entire collection is now held on a set of 6 DVDs and once the DVD's are available for the patrols to use on their Vixens, they will be able to find the information that they require in a couple of minutes."

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