Today’s advanced industrial products have increasingly complex maintenance and service requirements that even the most skilled service technicians struggle with. Service information can be inaccurate and difficult to understand, while service manuals remain time-intensive to produce, distribute, and update. Field technicians must be extremely efficient for their organizations to be successful, but they face multiple roadblocks that can unfortunately result in frequent repeat visits and frustrated customers.
Augmented reality (AR) provides a new answer to these challenges. Specifically, AR can serve digitized service information–enabling technicians to experience instructions and guidance in ways that are more comprehensive, while also being less obtrusive to the work at hand. Here are the three ways that AR can increase productivity for maintenance and service teams.
Field technicians hold the keys to success for service teams. To be effective, they need to be able to access up-to-date service information that is easy to understand. Using an AR-enabled mobile device, tablet, or wearable headset, field technicians can overlay digital service instructions onto a physical product—allowing them to access the most recent and accurate service information without having to consult a physical manual. This eliminates the cost and issue of having to produce and distribute manuals that may be perpetually out of date, while also minimizing the need to look away from work to find and read printed materials.
AR provides technicians with a better way to absorb the information they need, as well as a more timely and cost-efficient way for organizations to broadcast and distribute it. Because of this, technicians and the organizations they work for can be more confident, and more productive, when servicing products.
As veteran workers near retirement, service organizations need to find creative ways to reduce turnover and retain the existing workforce while managing a collective knowledge transfer. Remote AR guidance allows wiser, experienced workers the ability to assist field technicians, without leaving their office environment. This virtual assistance establishes a lower-strain work model and can increase job satisfaction—particularly for aging workers who may not be as inclined to assume the high-mileage role of on-site guru.
Instead, using an AR experience that converges the digital and physical worlds, the remote expert can view industrial products from the perspective of the field technician and annotate instructions in real-time within the same software. With AR, aging veteran workers no longer need to travel from site to site for service organizations to leverage their expertise. Field technicians also benefit by having a go-to person for questions or issues that might pop up, making the entire team more flexible and productive.
When field technicians need to make repeat maintenance or service related visits, or bring in additional resources, everyone loses. The service team’s reputation takes a hit, as does the customer’s operations and margins due to prolonged equipment downtime.
With digital step-by-step instructions and remote expert guidance as tools, field technicians can service products faster and with more confidence, resulting in higher first-time fix rates. Completing procedures successfully the first time means that they can move onto the next job faster and have more time to cover additional calls. Service organizations benefit from increased SLA compliance and less associated penalties, while customers will be happier and more likely to renew contracts.
If you liked learning about how AR can make service teams more productive, check out this complementary infographic on the four ways that AR makes service organizations more successful.