The Impact of Augmented Reality in Field Service

Written by: Greg Kaminsky

Read Time: 3 min

This blog post was co-written with Claire Cavanaugh and updated with the latest information in August 2023 (originally published in Aug. 2019).

What are the challenges in field service?

Industrial enterprises are under increasing pressure to provide competitive differentiation and improve customer satisfaction. And this pressure doesn’t subside after products and equipment come off the line. Product performance and uptime are key factors that can help manufacturers improve customer satisfaction and win market share, making aftermarket field service a critical component in industries like high-tech, automotive, industrial products, federal aerospace and defense, and life sciences.

Field service provides manufacturers with additional opportunities to deliver revenue and profit streams, but several considerations make profitability difficult to attain:

  • Increasingly complex products and configurations require complex service information
  • Reliable, multi-language service information is needed to support a global marketplace
  • Traditional printed manuals are ineffective and costly to maintain and distribute
  • Field service operations can be expensive, particularly for equipment located in remote areas
  • Expert field service technicians are retiring and not adequately being replaced
  • Traditional paper-based work instructions lack context, impede efficiency, and can be prone to human error

How is augmented reality transforming field service?

A successful field service model requires a combination of accurate service information and an empowered workforce. Service providers around the world are overcoming these common challenges by using augmented reality (AR) to deliver relevant service information and guidance that technicians need in real time, in the context of the physical environment.

3D Work Instructions

AR allows service technicians to quickly perform processes, repairs, and the disassembly and reassembly of parts without pausing to refer to separate printed manuals. Instead of printing and distributing difficult-to-interpret service manuals, service providers can leverage mobile devices and hands-free headsets to deliver 3D work instructions that boost technician productivity. Overlaying real-time, up-to-date information onto physical equipment allows technicians to visualize previously inaccessible things, like machine data or components inside a product, before they perform a task. It also guides them through processes while they are performing tasks.

For new technicians, 3D work instructions ensure they don’t need to ask seasoned experts to step away from their own work to help. For tenured SMEs, 3D work instructions help accelerate service on new or updated products.

Connecting with Remote Experts

In the event that field technicians come across unfamiliar or unexpected equipment problems that require additional guidance or support, they can use AR to immediately connect with a remote expert that can help them. This ability to solve problems collaboratively and in real-time reduces truck rolls, limits safety incidents, and makes it easier for service organizations to scale their expertise and optimize high-value resources.

More Effective Training

Organizations that have utilized AR-powered training experiences were able to accelerate ramp-up times and employee learning curves by engaging relevant learning and memory systems in the brain. And because AR is such an effective knowledge sharing tool, service providers can minimize off-site education and other costly activities with impactful on-the-job training.

AR training experiences can also be a valuable and engaging recruitment tool for digital natives: the incoming generation of workers who grew up in the digital age. While in-person training sessions can be limiting and create an antiquated perception of the industry, AR training experiences are an innovative upgrade with guided tours, work simulations, and virtual events.

How does AR benefit field service?

Less downtime and SLA penalties

Ineffective service manuals can have a ripple effect on field service performance and customer satisfaction. Inaccurate or difficult-to-understand information compromises technician efficiency, resulting in slow resolution times, repeat visits, increased equipment downtime, high part returns, handling costs and excess parts inventory, repair and maintenance delays, and ultimately, frustrated customers. AR-powered service, in contrast, accelerates efficiency, making repairs faster and building brand loyalty through happier customers.

Reduces Travel and Truck Rolls

AR enables service providers to deliver and maintain accurate service and parts information that field technicians need to be productive. AR authoring solutions allow expert technicians to quickly create scalable service work instructions that are easy for any technician to understand and follow from anywhere, sometimes eliminating the need for travel and truck rolls.

Improves FTFR and Increases Service Efficiency

The ability to view 3D service instructions on a hands-free headset or mobile device enables service technicians to access critical and supplemental information in the context of the actual task they’re performing, which helps to improve repair times and first-time fix rates.

Learn more about augmented reality in field service

Augmented reality is providing industrial enterprises with millions in benefits and savings, driving workforce efficiency, and boosting customer satisfaction. For a detailed breakdown of service costs and the value that AR can bring to your business, read the Using Augmented Reality in Field Service to Reduce Service Costs eBook.

Reduce Service Costs with AR

Discover how augmented reality in field service reduces the costs that impact efficiency. Get the eBook
Tags: Augmented Reality Aerospace and Defense Automotive Electronics and High Tech Industrial Equipment Life Sciences Oil and Gas Digital Transformation Industry 4.0

About the Author

Greg Kaminsky Greg Kaminsky is a Senior Brand Marketing Manager at PTC based in Boston, Massachusetts. He focuses on sharing customer innovation stories and exploring how digital transformation helps product companies become more sustainable and efficient. With a background in marketing, video, and content creation, Greg is inspired by examples of people and technology that are pushing the boundaries of cutting edge. Outside of the office, Greg also enjoys volunteering and finding ways to positively impact the community as part of PTC's global ambassador group, Green at PTC.

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