5 Ways Field Service Teams Can Put Augmented Reality to Use

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are no longer fad technologies - they’re a bona fide way of interacting with the world and learning new skills.

Granted, few manufacturers currently use AR and VR in their service operations today, but technical publishing tools are making it easier for content authors to develop 3D illustrations of complex assets. When servicing machines, field technicians can reference illustrations to view installation procedures, repair sequences, and other processes that are difficult to explain.

This isn’t the only application of AR/VR. There are five field service capabilities this technology brings to the table:

1. Remote assistance

Remote assistance typically involves off-site, senior technicians using AR to instruct on-site, novice technicians.

If a new hire encounters a problem with which he is unfamiliar, he can call a more experienced technician for further guidance. The senior technician can send graphical parts information, 3D maintenance sequences, and other AR experiences to the on-site technician's mobile device, virtually demonstrating how to solve the problem in question.

2. Training

Using AR or VR, a procedure overlay on equipment can guide apprentices through unfamiliar processes. The added value comes from a more realistic training experience that leverages visually rich, accessible information.

The scaling and content considerations for training applications are also still low – requiring complete source CAD data but only 10-50 sequences per product model.

3. Procedural and operational self-service

This is very similar to the training scenario, but for real service events, and may require the ability to identify and order parts. Of especially high value, AR allows clarification of the task at hand. The scaling prerequisites are moderate, requiring CAD and service content, as well as the availability of highly contextual content.

4. Inspection and verification automation

A VR or AR overlay of equipment configuration and state information allows for shorter inspection and verification times, and fewer errors. There is a greater barrier to entry, as this requires connected business systems for asynchronous overlays (owner, contract entitlement) and connected products for synchronous overlays (sensor readings, alerts.) However, the content needs are not as extensive, requiring only contextual content without too many graphical overlays.

5. Hands-free equipment service

This allows for inspection, verification, plus procedural self-service with a head-mounted device. Here, technicians’ hands are free to work while accessing contextual content for the equipment and task at hand.

The scaling and content considerations for this application are still high. For instance, there is a need for strong contextual filtration, as well as voice dictation and playback ability related to the content being viewed.

Even if your business is not ready to launch AR or VR at scale, or at all, you can still prepare your content for 3D and eventual AR adoption by using a technical illustration process that makes the CAD-to-3D journey shorter and simpler. Learn more about powering your technical illustrations for the augmented reality revolution:

Creo Illustrate Technical Illustrations