The time is right for moving ahead with Augmented Reality in field service. The time is right, and the technology is ready. You are the one then could envisage how better apply the potential to your specific industry and business processes. Many organizations see the potential of Augmented Reality (AR). Analysts predict that expenditure on AR technology will exceed 100 billion dollars by 2020 and… Already bored?

Stay tuned, because now comes the interesting bit: exponential growth of AR application is expected in… the field service industry! Wow! Cinderella is going to receive a royal treatment and high-tech shoes at last.

In fact, service teams are no longer considered a costly, cumbersome organizational unit that could only operate reactively. That way of thinking is now changed upside down. Service is becoming a means to optimize the customer experience. And in recent years, the focus of service organizations has really shifted toward the customer experience in B2B markets too. Globalization, cut-throat price competition, end of customer loyalty… all these trends make customer experience and providing excellent service paramount. And, boy! Augmented Reality assists greatly with this.

Augmented, not Virtual

Augmented Reality is an enhanced version of reality created by technology, adding digital information on an image. AR is used in apps for smartphones and tablets. AR apps use your phone’s camera to show you a view of the real world in front of you, then put a layer of information, including text or images, on top of that view. That is far from Virtual Reality, where computer technology creates a simulated environment. When you view VR, you are looking at a completely different reality than the one in front of you. With Augmented Reality, you enjoy a context of information about what you are looking at. 

An example? DHL provides employees in distribution centers with smart glasses. Using AR, the employee sees a digital picking list, is automatically guided to the correct position and scans the picked products. It’s a great deal faster than working with paper lists, and the chance of errors is vastly reduced.

Remote guidance

Augmented Reality (AR) optimizes the effectiveness of service calls. The service technician has both hands free to complete the tasks required and still accesses on-site to the best possible instruction and information about the product or the system he/she is repairing. Data from the cloud and 3D images of parts and objects are combined on his mobile phone or tablet (or even his smart glasses).

The on-site work is completed faster and better also by a junior technician. The customer does not have to wait (and the company does not have to pay) for the availability of an expert: you can confidently send a less experienced field service. The service technician on-site and the in-house expert can work together even if they are ten thousand kilometers apart, literally ‘singing from the same hymn sheet,’ looking as they are to the same images. If the problem turns out to be different from the one expected, the external advice ensures that there is no need to make a new appointment.

More effective support 

The customer itself could be provided with an AR device, to help him in diagnosing or identifying the problem and even to fix it with the help of a remote support center. Sharing the image of a broken device with the supplier’s expert, customers can carry out simple repairs themselves. Problem-solving is significantly improved, compared to telephone consultations.

Providing information tailored to the situation

Augmented Reality provides information in a format and via a device that is precisely tailored to the situation of the user. When a field service employee uses the camera function of his tablet to scan article numbers of machine parts, the correct manual is immediately displayed on his or her screen. AR ensures that the field service employee immediately gets a 3D image of the machine he is looking at. Productivity increases significantly.

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