Augmented reality most suitable for field service

Augmented reality is taking the field service industry by storm. If you haven’t heard of it already, expect that in the next year you will. AR is a technology that blends computer generated and physical world elements. It’s a technology that promises to allow a technician to direct a customer fix without leaving the office. The ultimate goal of field service AR is to save money and provide better customer satisfaction.

Augmented reality is similar but different than its cousin virtual reality. Virtual reality requires fast workstations and specialty goggles. While AR can utilize these tools, it can also be utilized through just a smartphone or a tablet. This puts the power of AR in the hands of just about anyone. In fact, if you have ever seen the game Pokemon Go then you have seen AR in action. The video game world is melded with the physical world to create a new kind of video game that interacts with the real world.

What situations are a good fit for AR?

Not every situation is a good fit for AR. It’s not going to replace a field service technician overhauling a machine or needing to do more dangerous machine repairs. Where AR excels is in its ability to reduce second trips, perform customer initiated fixes, and improve technician productivity. In these three areas, the AR can revolutionize field service management.

1. Reduce Second Trips

A study by the Aberdeen Group showed that nearly 1/3 of all field service calls require a second trip. Second trips are costly, especially when the service center is located far from the site. It’s also painful for the customer who is dealing with downtime. He is losing money and losing productivity. Second trips are often caused a lack of parts or tools to fix the problem on the first trip. In fact, the first trip is usually a diagnosis of the problem.

The Aberdeen Group found that AR eliminated 37% of all second trips. Field service technicians were able to diagnose the problems through AR and have the correct parts and tools with them when they arrived on site. This led to quicker repairs, less downtime, and increased customer satisfaction. The impressive cost reduction from second trips is reason enough to implement AR in your field service management software.

2. Customer Initiated Repairs and Diagnosis

AR allows the customer to have a role in repair and diagnosis of their equipment. A customer, with the help of a trained technician, can utilize a smartphone app or AR goggles to view the equipment and see where the problems lie. The technician can see the different gauge readings and have the customer perform basic diagnostic procedures. The remote technician can gain a good picture of what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix the equipment.

In instances where the repairs are small and parts are not needed, the technician can help the customer initiate the repairs and then test the machine to ensure that the machine is working correctly. It’s no wonder that augmented reality can lead to significant savings through fewer and more productive first trips to the site.

3. Improving Technician Productivity

In many instances, companies want to have technicians either located on site or nearby for quick repairs. They want less downtime and more productivity. Having technicians trained on every aspect of the machine can be quite costly and often these technicians are kept idle waiting for a problem to arise. AR offers a very good solution in these cases.

Field service companies can have multiple tiers of technicians. The front line technicians can be located on-site. When they are called upon to fix an issue, they can interface through augmented reality with a highly skilled technician in the main service center. This highly trained technician can guide the 1st tier technician through any diagnosis and repairs needed on the equipment. The technician can even be guided through the removal and installation of new parts and equipment.

By increasing field technician productivity, providing quicker diagnosis, and reducing second trips, field service providers can provide better customer satisfaction. They will lower their costs and reduce customer downtime. When done correctly, augmented reality is a win-win for customers and service providers.

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