How Augmented Reality Is Streamlining Automotive Service

Written by: Claire Cavanaugh

Read Time: 4 min

In automotive, trucking, and heavy equipment industries, service is complicated by high customer expectations, advanced products, and constant innovation. Paper-based work instructions can no longer keep up with the pace of change and the complexity of service. If these challenges impact customer uptime, your brand reputation will undoubtedly suffer. That’s why it’s important to be proactive instead of reactive, adapting before traditional approaches have a negative impact on your service times, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Leading manufacturers are responding with a new approach to automotive service, realizing greater efficiencies and cost-savings, and improving quality with augmented reality (AR). AR technology visualizes digital content in the context of the user’s physical environment, making it a particularly valuable tool for complex automotive service in the hands of new and experienced technicians alike.

What is augmented reality’s role in automotive service?

In the age of constant digital transformation in vehicles themselves, automotive service is a complicated process even for the most experienced technicians. But long wait times and poor-quality service impact the customer experience and your brand reputation. The role of augmented reality in automotive service is to create intuitive, immersive experiences that improve efficiency and accuracy through accelerating technician comprehension—whether they’re a tenured expert or brand new to the business.

How is augmented reality transforming automotive service?

Users achieve these benefits through the full potential of AR, which leverages detailed, in-context digital content to simplify car, truck, and heavy equipment repairs. The technology enables the creation of interactive, in-context work instructions and connections with other solutions to create a digital thread for deeper insights. And as products rapidly evolve and become more customized, AR content can easily be adapted and distributed—enabling technicians to keep pace.

In-context 3D work instructions

Locating a single part in a vehicle is tedious enough, but traditional 2D manuals that lack context complicate the process, leaving technicians to spend valuable time searching for the right component before they can even begin service. AR-powered 3D work instructions in the context of the physical vehicle immediately locate the part and provide step-by-step guidance for the user to complete the repair quickly and correctly. Whether it’s a new employee or an experienced technician working on a new product for the first time, 3D work instructions improve workforce efficiency and prevent human errors.

Leveraging the digital thread

Automotive manufacturers can extend the value of AR by connecting it with computer-aided design (CAD), product lifecycle management (PLM), and Internet of Things (IoT) data to create a digital thread. By combining these powerful solutions, manufacturers quickly create, distribute, and scale 3D work instructions across the enterprise. As workers use the instructions, they feed valuable data and insights back into the digital thread, enabling continuous quality improvements over time.

How does augmented reality help reduce service costs?

AR applications in the automotive industry help reduce service costs by making the most of your workforce’s collective time and effort. This includes improving accuracy and efficiency and freeing up your SMEs’ time to focus on their work.

Increases service accuracy

Because they lack context, paper-based instructions can be difficult to interpret and prone to human error. AR provides clear, in-context work instructions and step-by-step guidance that empower service technicians to identify the problem quickly and fix it correctly, the first time. By improving first-time fix rate (FTFR) and accuracy, automotive manufacturers limit costly scrap and rework.

Reduces service time

In a paper-based manual, the information required for service might be buried a hundred pages in. In those cases, it could take hours for the technician to get the drawing or instruction they need—if they can find it at all. AR work instructions can be accessed in real time on a tablet or mobile device. This empowers automotive service technicians to work more efficiently, reducing the time it takes to complete a service job, decreasing time and resources spent on solving the problem, and increasing the number of customers your organization can provide service for.

Improves service technician utilization

Technicians who can’t make sense of a paper-based manual will ask for help soon enough—but that means an SME must stop their work to help the employee. Stalling other projects could mean longer service times and added costs. AR with 3D schematics provides all the information and context a technician needs, meaning that experts don't have to take time away from other high-priority jobs to support new employees.

Meeting customer expectations and innovating with AR at Peterbilt

Amid increasing vehicle complexity and mounting customer expectations, leading automotive manufacturer Peterbilt found a valuable solution to training challenges in AR technology. With more than 80 years of experience and 425+ dealer locations, Peterbilt identified an opportunity to simplify training and boost its existing reputation for quality service and purposeful innovation.

Complex schematics were a major roadblock to efficient service for the manufacturer. Peterbilt’s service technicians had to interpret highly complex, printed line drawings describing a circuit. As a result, automotive service required high skill levels and extra time the manufacturer couldn’t afford to spend. With AR, technicians no longer need to deal with challenging schematics. Instead, they can easily access, share, and scale clear, in-context work instructions. With more than 1,600 digital twins (and counting) available for its trucks, Peterbilt’s technicians leverage X-ray vision technology to view vehicle components in an even more immersive experience. The manufacturer also connects AR with PLM to create a digital thread of data, helping them author new guided experiences and keep content up to date at all times.

AR is making waves in the automotive industry as a business-critical solution that is boosting service efficiency, improving quality, and saving costs. Keep reading about Peterbilt in the full case study to discover the manufacturer’s ARTech solution: an individualized tool that is improving service technician efficiency and as well as customer uptime.


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Tags: Augmented Reality CAD Industrial Internet of Things Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Automotive Digital Thread Training

About the Author

Claire Cavanaugh

Claire is a Content Marketing Manager on PTC's Commercial Marketing team. She creates content in support of PTC products and solutions.