Connected equipment and connected service solutions bring the power and imagination of the Internet of Things to field service, but how can field technicians leverage this technology further? In field service organizations, whether they’re tethered to a manufacturer, or belong to a general service provider responsible for multiple equipment types, technology powered by the Internet of Things is a valuable tool, not just a fun toy. Augmented reality especially can revolutionize the role and scope of a technician’s work. How?
Augmented reality can play a part at various parts of the connected service journey we outlined in Part I of our blog, and it’s important to remember that as the technician workforce changes, service documentation and information should adapt to how we consume information today.
With rapid advances in industry, field service technicians no longer work on one or two familiar pieces of equipment. Rather, they can be responsible for dozens of types of equipment, or dozens of configurations of equipment. More than that, technicians who aren’t affiliated with a specific manufacturer or OEM may work on equipment they’re not familiar with. By bringing augmented reality technology to field technicians, and marrying it to available and equipment specific digital service information, a technician can receive repair information in a timely manner, without digging through outdated manuals. Even more, the information is accurate to each equipment configuration, eliminating guesswork and improving mean time to repair.
After a repair is performed, technicians can perform some validation in the field, but may not have all the information they need to ensure that full asset performance is restored. With augmented reality and the power of the IoT, they can pull in asset information in real time, and compare it to ideal or normal operating conditions. This is information that the equipment’s sensors may measure, but not display on the asset due to a lack of UI. The result? Repairs that complete the first time, even on equipment the tech may not have seen before.
Industrialization fueled by emerging global markets means that field technicians may have the necessary mechanical skills, but not the experience with new equipment. Augmented reality allows service providers to bridge that knowledge gap. This bridge also attracts a new generation of technicians who must replace a rapidly aging technician population. By having adaptive, accessible knowledge, training is faster and more complete.
With augmented reality, there are fewer losses in translation, literally. Not only is translating service information very costly, it can result in errors due to improperly translated or not fully understood instructions. By layering augmented reality interfaces over equipment, techs can view diagnostic steps, steps to repair, and then check that repairs were performed correctly – all animated and layered over the asset.
Service information and knowledge alone isn’t sufficient to making field service great. The information must be adaptable, accessible, and actionable by a variety of stakeholders. Organizations with field service components who take advantage of connected service and augmented reality will be at the forefront of the new industrial revolution, one with customer experience, and technician experience, front of mind.
Learn more about service solutions made possible by the IoT in the IDC white papers on digital transformation here.