Augmented Reality Is Transforming Field Service
Ever since the viral gaming phenomenon Pokemon GO! took the world by storm a few years back, the potential of augmented reality has been growing rapidly. And, while things may have gone somewhat quiet on the gaming front recently, the technology has been finding its way into the workings of industries across the globe.
It is predicted that there will be 77.7 million augmented reality users worldwide in 2020, a number which is set to grow to 85 million by 2021. Innovative development products such as Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore software development kits (SDKs) — both launched in 2017 — are making it easier and more cost effective than ever for brands to develop their applications for this promising technology.
As you might expect, field service is one such industry that has much to gain from augmented reality technology, and the implementation of it stands to transform the industry in some unexpected ways.
In the field service industry, it has been reported that augmented reality technology can increase productivity by around 43% and decrease the number of errors made by almost a third. Augmented reality technology achieves these benefits through many innovative applications.
Anyone who understands anything about the field service industry in 2020 knows that the business is going through a skills shortage and an employment crisis right now. As veteran members of the workforce reach retirement age there simply aren't enough younger candidates to take up their positions after they vacate them. Not only this but, when the older engineers do retire, they take decades of skills and experience with them with no effective method of transferring them to the new generation.
First, augmented reality — and indeed all digital technology — makes the industry more attractive to younger people. Millennials and particularly Generation Z are adept users of digital technology and are naturally drawn to those companies which can offer them work that involves these kinds of innovations. In other words, before we even get onto specifics, chances are the simple fact of having augmented reality tech in your brand's toolbox will make your company — and field service as an industry — more attractive to younger generations.
Augmented reality can also help address the skills transfer issue. With this technology, older engineers can help teach new ones using the heads-up display function of augmented reality. Trainees can hold up tablet devices over a machine or circuit board and get an overlay describing what to do. This overlay can then be supplemented with real-time communication from an experienced engineer who can talk the trainee through the procedure and even make notes or draw on the augmented reality schematic to help make their point.
This means that a single experienced engineer, working from a single location, can help transfer their skills to several new employees — reducing costs, errors, and increasing the quality of new engineers.
Augmented reality technology can also bring a whole suite of other advantages to field service businesses.
You can see an increase in productivity and profitability as the heads-up display offered by augmented reality reduces the amount of time an engineer needs to consult manuals and technical documents to familiarize themselves with the device they're fixing. This instant access to schematics and other technical information also increases the chances of a first-time fix — reducing the need for multiple visits and providing a massive boost to customer experience and satisfaction. Augmented reality technology can also be used to let the customer fix simple issues by themselves through the guidance of a qualified engineer.
Inevitably, augmented reality technology will make field service a safer industry to work in. Glasses fitted with the tech can allow engineers to access information hands-free. This is essential for safety, as field service work often takes engineers to elevated locations where it is simply not practical to have to use a ladder, tools, and access documents at the same time. Off-the-job training also becomes easier to facilitate and allows new candidates to be trained in virtual environments before they try their hand at the real thing.
Augmented reality technology has the potential to bring massive benefits to the field service industry. Whether it's helping to train new staff, facilitating inter-generational skills transfer, or allowing altitude workers to stay safe during their workday, augmented reality technology is making the field service industry more productive, efficient, and safe than ever.
Augmented reality is set to be a hot topic at Field Service Amelia Island 2020, taking place in August at The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, FL.
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