April 23 - 26, 2019
JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa, CA
Augmented Reality Will Support Field Service Technicians in Every Aspect of Their Work
brought to you by WBR Insights
(Image source: business.com)
Ever since those adorable Japanese monsters took the mobile gaming world by storm a few years ago, augmented reality (AR) has propagated rapidly, with many industries looking for ways to incorporate the technology into their customer or workforce experiences. The field service industry is no different. If your organization is not utilizing some form of AR tool already, the chances are it will be in the future. Here are some of the amazing ways this technology can be used.
Augmented reality technology can be used to provide engineers with unprecedented levels of information about the machines they're working on. All they need do is hold their mobile device up to the machine in question and they'll see detailed schematics and blueprints superimposed onto the real-life environment.
The software can then help engineers analyze and compare the real machine with the virtual one to see where things don't appear as they should.
Likewise, it's almost impossible for every engineer to have a working knowledge of every different machine and potential configuration, so these schematics can also be used as work aids to help technicians familiarize themselves with the machines they are working on - both off and on site.
The same software can also be connected to a field service company's warehouse and/or ordering system.
Once an engineer has identified the faulty component, they can simply tap on it on their augmented reality device. The software can then check with the warehouse back at base to see if the part is in stock and give the engineer the option to place an order if it isn't, streamlining and simplifying parts acquisition.
The software could potentially also check with local merchants and suppliers to see if there is a closer location from which the part could be acquired, cutting down on unnecessary traveling time.
Addressing the Aging Workforce
Modern field service businesses are now being faced with a demographic shift in their workforce. Seasoned employees are reaching retirement age and there's a shortage of fresh blood ready to take their place. To fill this gap, businesses need a way to simultaneously document the knowledge of the outgoing workforce and attract and train the new generation.
One of the key differentiators between the older workforce and millennials is the latter's love for technology and immersive digital experiences. They are likely to be drawn to careers and companies which are seen to be embracing these innovations.
Augmented reality technology can be used to address these related needs by providing a way to attract younger recruits and assist in skills transfer from the older generation. Using the knowledge of older employees, augmented reality training simulators can be created. Wearing a headset or using some other compatible device, recruits can run through multiple scenarios and test out many different real-life situations they are likely to encounter during field service work.
By connecting to live support centers, fresh-faced recruits who are out working in the real world for the first time can use AR technology to get valuable on-the-job support. More experienced associates can remotely guide them through a process they are struggling with by seeing what they are seeing and superimposing directions on the screen.
AR glasses will make this even easier by providing a hands-free heads-up display (HUD) through which the technician can see. Likewise, future applications could allow the customer to have their own set of glasses and connect to their field service provider when there's a minor problem. The customer could then assume the role of the technician and be remotely guided through the repair process - removing the need for a call out entirely.
"The main goal behind these AR-empowered use cases is to make a technician more efficient and a 'jack of all trades' when it comes to repairs across different machines or functions," writes Senior Product Manager for Oracle Field Service, John Ranalli. "AR solutions and their ability to provide real-time, hands-on guidance has the potential to make a technician an expert on something very quickly - which in turn increases the rate of first-time repairs and, subsequently, overall customer satisfaction."
Augmented reality tech has gone way beyond simple novelties and games. We are now starting to see real practical applications in the field service industry. Those companies willing to embrace new technologies such as these are likely to see their workforces thrive and their efficiencies improve.
Augmented reality technology is set to be a hot topic at Field Service Palm Springs 2019, taking place in April at the JW Marriott Desert Springs.
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