April 21 - 24, 2020
JW Marriott Palm Desert Resort & Spa, CA
Augmented Reality Is Shaking Up Field Service and Fresenius Kabi Wants in on the Action
brought to you by WBR Insights
The field service industry has often been resistant to change, but we are now seeing a range of disruptive digital technology making its way into the workplace. Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning, and big data are all being deployed to great effect, but Germany-based healthcare company Fresenius Kabi is putting its money on augmented reality technology.
Fresenius Kabi is a global company which specializes in lifesaving medicines, as well as providing technology for infusion, transfusion, and clinical nutrition. Like many companies which supply technological products to customers, Fresenius Kabi also takes on contracted service and maintenance for those products.
It's this side of the business which has led to Fresenius Kabi looking at augmented reality technology to offer increased field service offerings to its customers, both directly and via more effective training and support for its maintenance engineers.
"AR enables us to provide better technical support both internally and externally," said Vice President of Operations at Fresenius Kabi, Ryan Snellings. "The more support we can do remotely, without having truck rolls, the lower our costs. It also drastically reduced in-house training time. We're able to send new technicians out in the field with more confidence given we can easily have a senior technician or support specialist support them remotely through AR. That reduces training time and gives the new employee confidence in doing their job correctly."
The goal of augmented reality is to provide both operational benefits and improve the customer experience for Fresenius Kabi's clients.
After much research, the partner chosen by Fresenius Kabi to implement its augmented reality plans was tech startup Help Lightning.
(Image source: helplightning.com)
Help Lightning is an app-based platform which can be accessed on iOS and Android. The platform uses augmented reality to blend independent real-time video streams between an onsite technician and a remote expert. The remote expert can then guide the technician and virtually look over their shoulder to help them service and repair Fresenius Kabi's devices.
With the aging workforce being a big issue in field service right now, a platform such as Help Lightning allows older engineers to take it easy and help train the next generation of technicians from the comfort of the office, or any remote and internet-connected location.
This next generation collaboration tool allows geographically disparate engineers to work side by side. They can telestrate (draw freehand over a moving or still image), freeze images, use hand gestures, and add real objects into the merged reality environment, all to help the on-site engineer with the task at hand.
"As with anything new, you have two schools of thought - wow, this is exciting and wow, this will never work," said Snellings. "It was imperative for us to make sure the technology was working well before we pushed it out to the remainder of the business or used it with customers. Several members of the field team ran extensive testing on the system to be sure it was working as desired before widespread rollout began."
Fresenius Kabi is using the Help Lightning platform to boost its business on more than one front. It now has a hotline team which can troubleshoot problems over the phone. The call center is open 24/7 and staffed by experienced field service engineers ready to pass on their advice and skill to their freshly trained colleagues.
As the Help Lightning platform doesn't use any special technology, just any connected smartphone or tablet, the customer can also use the service to get help and advice on field service issues. For simple fixes, this may mean an engineer doesn't need to attend the job at all - with augmented reality guidance from an experienced field service professional, the customer can often address the problem themselves.
"With AR, we can log customers in to Help Lightning to get a real-time look at what they're seeing, almost like we're physically there," said Snellings. "This cuts down on phone time and gives the customer the confidence of knowing we fully understand what they're going through. Customers have something tangible that they know we are doing in order to better serve them. Their excitement will translate into opportunities for us to identify new service revenue streams."
You can hear Fresenius Kabi's Area Service Manager for Field Service & Support, Clifford T. Gardner, Jr., speak at Field Service Palm Springs 2019, taking place in April at the JW Marriott Desert Springs.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.