Aligning Service and Training for Maximum AR Impact




This article was written by Rusty Abernathy, Director, PTC Customer Success. Rusty has been with PTC for over 10 years, and has deep experience in product lifecycle management and augmented reality. Rusty has worked on business strategy, process and technology programs for some of the world's best known companies in the aerospace, defense, and with the US Government, bringing fresh vision and innovative thinking to each opportunity.

For service organizations, the benefits of augmented reality (AR) have been outlined repeatedly. The ability to transpose digital information onto physical objects when servicing a machine or product transforms how technicians get their work done and improves efficiency. But AR has another benefit for service organizations that often gets overlooked.

Within every service organization, technicians going out into the field need to be trained on how to perform a variety of different tasks to ensure that machines and products are working. Traditionally, the way technicians actually service a specific machine differs from what they are trained on. Very often, technicians end up relying on their own experience rather than their formal training. Because training is led by a different department within the company, it’s difficult to maintain materials and to stay up-to-date with changing products and best practices. Alignment between these two departments can be tricky, with training often falling a few steps behind. But here’s where AR changes the game.

Train the way you service with AR

To put it simply, AR offers businesses the opportunity to bridge the gap between how technicians are trained and how they service products. Why is it so simple? The answer is because you can use the exact same AR experience that you’ve built to service your products to train your technicians. This means that there is no additional work needed to leverage an AR experience for training purposes, making your training more efficient and accurate.

Let’s face it - if you are building an AR experience that a technician can use in the field to make service activities more effective, it’s important that the technician understands how to use the technology. You NEED training options – and AR offers benefits that traditional training methods don’t provide. What are some of the other benefits of leveraging AR for training? Here are a few:

  1. It improves your training approach
    With AR, gone are the days of gathering a group of technicians in a room and standing around a single machine to practice service procedures. This technology provides many different training options that have been previously unavailable. While in-person sessions are still possible, AR also offers the possibility of remote training with a CAD assembly model. Now, technicians who are preparing to go into the field can freshen up on best practices on the exact replica of the machine they will be servicing without a formal training session. Not only does this modernize your training capabilities, it also helps to reduce cognitive load for technicians, ultimately resulting in technicians needing less time to complete their work.

  2. It’s cost-effective
    You’ve already invested in AR technology to help your technicians service your products, why not leverage the same experience for training? AR makes it that simple. Instead of investing in traditional training materials that take time and money to produce and maintain, you can apply the AR experience you’ve already built to a training setting. The added bonus: Because your AR experience is built to handle heavy volumes of traffic, your training experience will leverage similar economies of scale, which will also help save costs.

  3. It’s scalable
    AR also helps to scale training across large organizations. Very often, there are thousands of technicians in a service organization that need to be trained, and with traditional training sessions, it can take years for everyone to get up to speed. AR allows training organizations to reach a large group of people a lot faster due to the flexibility of the technology. The infrastructure can already support heavy traffic too, so technicians can be remote or in-person to complete training.

  4. Your training will stay up-to-date
    Finally, because you are leveraging an AR experience that’s built for the field, training is always up-to-date with the latest models and best practices. Products change constantly, and historically, the process for updating training materials takes a lot of time and effort. With AR, the training and production experiences are essentially the same, eliminating the need to update materials.

Investing in an AR experience for your service organization can have massive benefits, and while there can be some upfront legwork involved with building it, the impact can be felt across your organization and company.

Want to learn more about how AR can benefit your business? Jim Heppelmann, CEO of PTC, and Michael Porter, Professor at Harvard, teamed up for the third time to co-author “Why Every Organization Needs an Augmented Reality Strategy.” Download the HBR report to learn everything you need to know to get started with AR.