After discussing the evolution of service in big-picture terms and started to explore connected service solutions, attention must be paid to the source – service and engineering information and service content. After all, service providers and technicians can’t perform their work without reliable source material.
With rapidly evolving technology, field technicians and engineers must work in lockstep to ensure efficient service and - ideally, so service informs design - closing the loop on the product lifecycle. What did we learn at LiveWorx 2017 about service and parts information?
The digitization of product content is a current trend in preparation for the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, and this is even more important in service. The days of field technicians searching through thick, outdated manuals and ordering the wrong part are slowly getting behind us, and a world where service content is derived directly from engineering content is ahead of us.
It’s not simply moving a paper-based manual to a PDF, it’s getting constantly updated data directly from the Bill of Materials and into a Service Bill of Materials. It’s also adopting more 3D illustrations that make service content clearer, less prone to misunderstanding, and less at risk for getting lost in translation when service documentation is shared globally.
The ultimate goal of the product lifecycle loop is for engineering to design for serviceability, and for service content to flow right into the improvement and optimization of the product. For example, if a field technician has to remove three panels and 12 screws in a routine battery maintenance, a design revision that removes some of those steps will make the technician more efficient at each instance of repair. One tweak to product design can save thousands of man-hours across the service organization, and increase customer uptime and satisfaction. Just as service can derive value from accurate engineering content, engineering can obtain great value from receiving service feedback.
Augmented reality is no longer a fad. The technology will be the new service reality. With advances in the authoring of technical documentation, 3D illustrations can be turned into rich AR experiences, detailing asset maintenance step-by-step, in the way people consume information today. Augmented reality can be used to provide just-in-time training for technicians, assist technicians in assessment and repair, and guide customers through self-service.
The viability of AR for service also meets the needs of the service organization by helping it evolve into a centralized-expert model, mitigating the aging technician workforce, and facilitating training of new technicians. The complexity of service products will only increase with technology, and service providers will need accurate and updated information on hundreds or even thousands of different asset iterations. With digital content and AR, all technicians can have the correct repair information at their fingertips (or in their augmented-reality glasses.)
Digitization and augmented reality will only pick up the pace in adoption as the technology becomes more accessible, cheaper, and easier to deploy. Service organizations can begin to prepare now, even if they’re not ready to fully deploy augmented reality, by making sure their service content and technical documentation are ready.
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