Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming a bigger part of our daily lives. Think of the geo-filters in Snapchat, the Live View navigation in Google Maps and catching Pokémons in Pokémon Go. More companies are using AR to make their work processes more efficient. But what are the benefits? In this article we focus on three advantages of AR in Field Service and our Business Managers Yannick van Weert and Daniel Ijzermans share their vision on this topic.
Augmented Reality is a technology that combines the virtual world with reality. AR can be experienced through different devices like an app, a mobile phone or smart glasses. Since the pandemic, more companies are using this technology to keep work running remotely. AR is mainly used in mechanical engineering and the food packaging industry. Due to this growth, experts predict the AR market to grow by 48.6% until 2028.
1. A more efficient work process
The main benefit of AR is that it helps engineers work more efficiently by providing them with instant information and an expert. This includes useful data such as the temperature of a machine, the type of model or the energy consumption. In addition, an expert can guide a less experienced mechanic at any time, even if the technician is on the other side of the world. The mechanic then knows exactly what actions to take to solve the problem quickly. The result: more satisfied customers.
These handy tools ensure that errors in the work process can be detected faster. Computer Vision takes this to a higher level. This technology detects small errors that the human eye cannot see, such as small tears in a cable. It also identifies specific components and sees if they are properly connected. The system confirms whether tasks have been completed properly, so engineers do not have to wait for an expert.
2. Remote service
According to Yannick, remote working will play an increasingly important role in the Field Service industry. This means that engineers can help customers all over the world, without having to be physically present at the location each time. This saves on travel costs and time. Yannick: "Especially in production environments, every second counts. Through AR, an expert can look over your shoulder 24/7 to solve the problem as quickly as possible."
Suppose a mechanic is repairing a wind turbine and runs into a problem. He doesn't know how to solve it and is in a remote location. The mechanic uses his AR headset to call an expert. Through the glasses, the expert can see exactly what the mechanic sees. The expert then gives the technician instructions on how to solve the problem quickly and hands-free.
Because minor problems are solved remotely, local engineers can focus on bigger projects. As a result, fewer people are needed on the work floor and local engineers have more space and calm to do their work. However, there is a downside to this: "If a problem cannot be solved remotely, a visit will still have to be scheduled. In that case time is lost and a department stands still," Daniel explains.
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3. Sharing knowledge
AR is also a great solution for training: it makes training sessions safer, more lively and interactive. When you scan a barcode with smart glasses, 3D holograms appear. These holograms explain step-by-step how to solve a problem. At any moment, a trainee can ask questions and a trainer can give feedback. The result: engineers have more confidence in their work, less training costs are required and dangerous situations are practiced safely.
A look into the future
According to Yannick, AR in Field Service is not yet widely used, but it is being experimented with extensively. About 1 to 2% of the Field Service companies are currently using AR. According to Daniel, this technology will be used to work more remotely in the short term. In the long term, AR will play a much bigger role according to Yannick. "The traditional role of Field Service Engineer will never disappear. But in the future there will be a shift in the familiar range of tasks. For example, it could be split into Field Service Engineering and Customer Support," says Yannick. In short: AR will play an increasingly important role in the future due to all the developments and innovations.
Want to know more? Reach out to:
Yannick van Weert
Business manager Field Service | International Site Management, Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)6 21 41 14 49