Investing in complex equipment and machinery is a necessary part of any manufacturing business. Over time, usage of that equipment leads to the inevitable need for maintenance and service, which can be slow, costly, and disruptive to operations.
Today’s smart, connected products have IoT-enabled predictive maintenance capabilities, but the process of servicing them often requires highly specialized product experts, many of whom are retiring or costly to employ. Using augmented reality (AR), industrial organizations can leverage the knowledge of these same experts to remotely guide field technicians through complex service procedures. Here are three ways that AR can improve how manufacturers maintain and service machinery.
Everyone can understand the frustration of assembling something from a set of written or drawn instructions. It’s easy for things to be misinterpreted, lost in translation, or simply not seen. When it comes to servicing a piece of large, complex industrial equipment, the stakes are even higher. Even the smallest amount of downtime can cost millions of dollars.
Wearable AR technology, like the Microsoft HoloLens, enables technicians to view digital step-by-step instructions, hands-free, while simultaneously looking at the physical product they’re working on. The technician can visualize each component of the equipment, inside and out, while knowing how it’s assembled and the purpose of each part. When installing and fixing complex products, this kind of transparency is incredibly valuable to both the technician, allowing them to perform their job more efficiently and comfortably, and the customer, who enjoys maximized uptime and profitability.
Using mobile-driven AR technology, experts can remotely guide and assist field technicians, helping them in real-time when they get stuck or need additional information. This reduces the number of on-site technicians and service visits—further minimizing costs and increasing efficiency.
Using an AR remote assistance app like Vuforia Chalk, subject matter experts can guide on-site technicians through the most complicated maintenance and service procedures as if they’re in the same room. With annotations that intelligently anchor to real-world objects, the expert can point out what the on-site technician needs to do. The benefit and savings are in AR technology’s ability to virtually deliver the problem to the expert, rather than the traditional method of physically transporting the expert to the problem.
More efficient service leads to increased customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty. When service teams can better adhere to their contracts, they won’t risk facing SLA penalties, resulting in more renewals and a reputation for stellar service. This strengthens the customer relationship and can open the door for upsell opportunities.
If you liked learning about how manufacturers can use AR to improve maintenance and service, check out this complementary e-book about the competitive edge that AR provides to manufacturers.