How Augmented Reality is Transforming the Field Service Environment
brought to you by WBR Insights
Augmented reality is being used to innovate many fields of business, and the technology also has the potential to transform the way field service professionals carry out their work.
Augmented reality (AR) technology has been growing inexorably in popularity ever since the launch of a certain mega-popular mobile game featuring a gaggle of famous Japanese cartoon monsters (that's Pokemon Go, by the way). While early applications of the innovative technology mainly revolved around such gaming and novelty curiosities, AR is also being incorporated into many aspects of industry as well. From retail to hospitality, augmented reality is giving businesses the power to offer unique and innovative experiences to their customers - and the next marketplace set to benefit from this exciting technology is the field service industry.
Barriers to Implementation
The field service industry has been relatively slow to see the potential in AR technology. With so many different systems in play, the task of programming the software necessary to enable AR is indeed a mammoth one. Combined with the need for Internet of Things integration (another technology only recently being adopted by the business) to allow for synchronization with backend systems, plus the training and recruitment which will be necessary, it's easy to see why some companies are intimidated by the prospect.
However, those companies which are willing to take the plunge will open themselves to a fantastic new suite of tools which can be deployed to improve the service they offer to their clients.
"The use of collaboration tools like AR will become the standard by which customers evaluate and measure field service performance," writes Blumberg Advisory Group President, Michael Blumberg. "Fueling the demand for AR/VR technology is the fact that it is both relevant and effective within a broad array of industry segments and use cases. Indeed, it is difficult to find any technology segments where AR/VR does not have practical value. In fact, any technology that is comprised of electronic, electro-mechanical (e.g. pneumatic, hydraulic, etc.) or electrical components can benefit from AR/VR enabled service and support."
So - what applications for augmented reality technology are there within the field service industry?
Augmented Reality for Field Service
The main and most useful application of AR technology within field service work is in removing barriers and unnecessary steps during inspection and diagnostic procedures.
Imagine using the same mobile device an engineer would normally use to log their reports to scan a row of gauges and capture the required data in a single sweep. It can also overlay information to inform the engineer which pipes or components are extremely hot or cold, reducing the possibility for on-the-job injuries. During fault diagnosis, augmented reality technology can help detect issues by overlaying schematics of the ideal set up of pipes, components, or wires, over the physical layout, enabling for discrepancies to be identified much more effectively and efficiently.
These applications also have the knock-on effect of improving efficiency, reducing mistakes with data logging, and lowering operating costs. As the technology develops, it can also be expected that we will see even greater integration of AR technology with existing equipment.
"As technology improves, it is very likely that consumers will purchase AR for business use in much the same way they purchase their own laptops and smartphones for similar business use," writes Blumberg. "It is also quite possible that "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) will apply to AR as well. This will completely change the paradigm of service support and break down barriers to finding and hiring talent, which in turn will continue to facilitate the use of freelance technicians. Regardless of future possibilities, these potential developments should not stop FSOs from investing in AR and reaping the benefits today."
Other possible applications include using AR to allow clients to self-serve by getting real-time readouts of field service investigations.
It's clear that augmented reality technology has the potential to make the field service environment a more effective, efficient, and safer place to work. As technology becomes ever more embedded in every aspect of our lives, we can expect to see further applications and benefits grow out of the innovations in this field.
Augmented reality technology is set to be a hot topic at Field Service Amelia Island 2018 this August at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.