Deploying any new technology can be a scary proposition. In addition to the capital outlay required to purchase the technology itself, there are costs associated with setup, configuration, testing, and training. Poor project management and lack of executive support can derail a project, causing delays, missed expectations, and even project cancellation after significant sunk costs.
Before embarking on a project to deploy new technology, all stakeholders must understand the expected benefits, as well as the costs and risks. It’s no different for field service augmented reality (AR), a new way to deliver both on-site and remote field service. In this article, we describe five significant benefits of AR for field services, for both service providers and their customers.
Our list of 5 top benefits of augmented reality for field service
1. Reduced Truck Rolls
Among the costliest product support activities is sending people to a customer site to diagnose and repair equipment. Whether across town or across the ocean, these customer visits (called truck rolls in many organizations) involve travel expenses, fuel costs, and time. For providers who literally roll trucks (or other vehicles) for field service, there are also costs to purchase and maintain the vehicles, tools, and equipment. These costs can eat up a big chunk of a company’s profitability.
Implementing a remote expert AR system can reduce these costs. The field service technicians remain in the office to conduct their service calls, viewing the equipment from a video stream from the customer’s mobile device and guiding the customer through the solution.
By some estimates, augmented reality for field service can reduce site visits by as much as 71%, according to the most recent report by the Technology Services Industry Association.
2. Reduced Training Time and Cost
In many industries, older technicians and engineers are heading for retirement in significant numbers, taking their accumulated knowledge and experience with them. The resulting workforce gap means that the younger employees from Generations Y and Z need to come up to speed quickly to be productive.
Field service AR systems can record each virtual service call, thereby capturing the “tribal knowledge” of the experienced technicians and providing a rich source of visual training information for the next generation.
These augmented visual support systems for field services are also collaborative tools. A new technician can be sent to a customer site to make repairs, guided by a more experienced technician back home. This hands-on experience is invaluable, and leveraging an AR system costs much less than sending both technicians to the site. Further, other interested parties across the business (such as sales, marketing, and engineering) can “listen in” on live field service sessions or access archived sessions for training purposes.
3. Reduced Equipment Downtime
By eliminating the travel delays associated with physical visits to customer sites, and providing customers with visual instructions for making repairs, the turnaround time from the initial call to fully restored service is significantly reduced. A two-day outage can become, in some cases, a matter of a few minutes. Customers are happier because the equipment is returned to service quickly with a correctly executed repair.
4. Reduced Software Costs
A field service AR system can be implemented as a cloud-hosted solution. A software-as-a-service (SaaS) field service AR solution, such as our Fieldbit end-to-end cloud-based platform, can reduce setup costs, eliminate IT infrastructure costs, and replace up-front licensing costs with a subscription model. Using Open API, Fieldbit fully integrates into existing CRM, ASM, FSM, SCADA systems, streamlining your back-office operations with the front line workers.
5. Happier Field Service Technicians
This benefit is more difficult to quantify but is important nonetheless. Aided by data from sensors installed on the customer’s equipment and visual mapping of the equipment, the technician can better prepare for those times when a site visit is unavoidable. The technician can assemble the right tools and parts to get the job done right the first time, and can more easily navigate the customer’s sometimes crowded, multi-asset environment.
The resulting reduction in headaches and frustration make for happier technicians with less burnout and turnover.
Do the Homework
The benefits of any technology transformation are best expressed in terms of dollars. Contact Fieldbit to make the business case and run the numbers for your enterprise. It’s a no brainer when you consider:
- cost savings you can make from one less site visit per month,
- Efficiency across the business from having all the expertise at your fingertips, and
- added value of keeping an in-house repository of all knowledge accessible wherever your technicians are.
Besides the benefits and dollars to consider, you’ll also want to consider every possible use case for the technology within your enterprise. Then you will be well on your way to making the best choice to benefit from an AR solution in field services.