We live in very interesting times for technological innovation. As the speed at which technology is accelerating to help individuals and businesses realize efficiency gains and move faster, bleeding edge technologies are rapidly making their way into the mainstream. Really, they are becoming a part of everyday life. This is very evident in the field service management space. Today’s field service organizations seek to digitally transform their operations through such things as cloud-based SaaS technology. They also seek to continually improve the operational efficiency of their field workforce and do more with less. One such area we’ve seen increasing conversations is how augmented reality (AR) will change field service operations and the positive impact it will have.
In an AR world, imagine your field worker is at a job site where they are inspecting a part that has failed. Upon further inspection, they realize they are unsure of the protocol to fix it. Now, the field worker could take a picture and email it to the manufacturer/engineer in order to have them review the information and provide a resolution. Or, enter augmented reality.
How you ask? Let me paint you a picture. Through augmented reality, everything from training/repair manuals to sensor information, is overlaid in the technician’s field of vision via AR glasses. Step-by-step, the technician is walked-through the repair process. Going even one step further, the technician could look inside the asset and layer temperature, sensor and pressure information on top of the simulated asset. This allows the tech to visually inspect the asset without interacting on the main assembly and determine what is occurring.
Gone are the 30-plus page, heavy paper manuals. Eliminated are the distractions from moving back and forth between the pages of a manual and the physical equipment. The result is efficiency gains that translate to cost savings and happier customers.
Through augmented reality, repeat visits—one of the most commonly tracked field service performance metrics and where incremental improvements have a significant impact on operating costs—may become a thing of the past.
Let’s take another example where augmented reality will change field service operations. Have you ever made a cross-country move? Then you are familiar with the mounds of paperwork and questions related to the number of boxes and the square footage/number of rooms of your dwelling. Augmented reality could easily be applied across the entire process, from determining room size dimensions and documenting items to ensuring the appropriate sized freight transportation is ordered. If a field service management platform is in place, the mounds of paperwork would be eliminated.
A last example where augmented reality will play a huge role is in the ever-growing industry of property management and building maintenance. For a field service organization that operates in this market, property managers or maintenance staff can overlay detailed asset information about the space to provide better service. For instance, room planning could allow you to place furniture in the space to see how it fits or maintenance staff could see inside the walls for electrical and plumbing issue resolution. Of course, there are additional routine and complex processes where augmented reality could be applied, including general contracting work, excavation, inspections, and roof repair.
While the timeline for adoption of such technology varies by industry, business size and market, it is an inevitability. The possibilities of augmented reality are not limited to field service organizations that conduct inspections or moving services, organizations that provide a field service of any kind can leverage such technology to level-up their service operations.
We can’t wait to see this future come to pass and be an even greater part of the digital transformation of field service management.