Is Augmented Reality Set to Become a Key Part of the Field Service Toolkit?

May 04, 2021 • NewsDigital Transformation

In the first in a series of excerpts from an exclusive Field Service News white paper published in partnership with Help Lightning, that is exploring the practical questions surrounding Augmented Reality in field service operations we ask whether field service is now ready to embrace a world of AR assisted service delivery? 


 

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 14.11.07

 

If you would like to read this exclusive paper right away Field Service News 

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If you are yet to subscribe you can join our free-forever subscription tier FSN Standard by hitting the button to access a dedicated registration page that provides you instant access to this white paper PLUS you will also be able to access our monthly selection of premium resources as soon as you are registered.

 

 

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Help Lightning2Data usage note: By accessing this content you consent to the contact details submitted when you registered as a subscriber to fieldservicenews.com to be shared with the listed sponsor of this premium content Help Lightning who may contact you for legitimate business reasons to discuss the content of this white paper, as per the terms and conditions of our privacy policy available here which is in line with GDPR regulations and is an ongoing condition of subscription.


 

The idea of remote assistance has been around for a long time. However, the idea of ‘dialling-in’ expertise directly when and where it is needed to provide a blend of hands-on practicality with off-site knowledge is a newer concept, and the ability to do that in an effective manner leveraging Augmented Reality (AR) tools is an approach that still remains on the future road map for many organizations.

If we look back at how remote service could be delivered a decade ago, the conversation was largely embryonic and focused on the potential use of video in remote service delivery. Indeed, even just five years ago, video-based collaboration was still a toolset that was relatively immature. while AR tools designed for field service operations were very much in their earliest iterations. Pioneering solution providers such as Help Lightning were certainly drawing attention at industry-focused conferences, but the technology remained an innovative niche and a glimpse of the future.

Fast forward to 2019, and the number of AR providers in the field had increased significantly, which has driven further innovation and lower price points.

Yet, it was in 2020 that we saw the critical catalyst for adoption in the unexpected shape of the COVID19 pandemic. Across a year, we saw remote service, in general, go from a fringe approach to service delivery primarily leveraged by best-in-class service providers to a fundamental pillar of service operations. Now, as we begin to see the dust settling from such global disruption and we begin to piece together what the new normal of our industry looks like, AR is primed to take its much-anticpated place as table stakes in standard service and maintenance offerings.

As Gary York, CEO, Help Lightning, commented when speaking on the Field Service News Digital Symposium, “the idea has been there for a long time, however, the implementation, and the adoption was slow.”

One reason for this reluctance in terms of adoption, was in many ways, not because the tools weren’t available for field service companies to utilize. Indeed, the tools were increasingly available. However, field service companies were accustomed to sending out technicians to resolve issues in the way they always had done. In many ways, it was the level of innovation that AR promised that held its adoption back.  In a mission-critical environment such as field service operations, radical change is not always easy, nor does it come quickly.

While technological revolutions such as mobile and cloud allowed field service organizations to continue working in the same essential model, the adoption of AR opens up the potential of genuinely redefining our fundamental approach to field service. It could also offer the solution to several perennial challenges the field service sector at large faces, including increasing first-time fix and technician utilization rates and being the key to mitigating the impact of a looming ageing workforce crisis.

 

"We’ve had a customer who when the pandemic hit couldn’t send their technicians into their customers’ homes. Within a week they brought Help Lightning on board and trained over 3000 field technicians and started providing their services virtually, almost overnight..."

 

It should also be noted that while the progression from audio-only, to video calls to AR may on the surface seem like a linear progression, the truth is that while video collaboration seems very much like an intermediary step on the journey to effective remote service delivery, it was merely an initial tentative first step forward on this path. AR however, is a giant leap into an entirely new way of working. 

As York explains, “the Augmented Reality capabilities that we have today, this model of virtual presence where the expert is virtually present within the space allows for true interaction. The technology makes it more natural for an expert to be there, as if they’re standing next to you helping you solve your problems.”

In essence, this is at the heart of why this new iteration of remote service is such a significant evolution. Such interaction is one of the most critical aspects as the models and mechanisms for interaction have gotten so much better with the virtual presence capabilities offered by tools such as Help Lightning.  Alongside this, additional tools within modern AR solutions around illustration and collaboration over documents, photos, and live video stream mean that issue resolution is increased significantly.

Of course, it is essential also to have a robust technology infrastructure in our increasingly digital world. This is one of the key reasons why the increased focus on AR providers designing tools specifically dedicated to the field service sector is critical.

Such AR solutions are designed with an understanding of the demands of field service and are tools which are fine-tuned to support the service organizations. The realization of all of these factors has led to substantial changes in how field service companies have been able to deliver their services remotely.

Within ten years, AR has evolved from being seen as an experiment with exciting potential to now being a commercially viable solution, production-ready, field-tested and ready to quickly roll out globally – as was demonstrated often in the last twelve months as companies were forced to embrace innovation in the face of adversity.

As York outlines, “We’ve had a customer who when the pandemic hit couldn’t send their technicians into their customers’ homes. Within a week they brought Help Lightning on board and trained over 3000 field technicians and started providing their services virtually, almost overnight. These tools are easy to ramp up easy to roll out and can be valuable in your first week.”

So AR, the long-awaited key technology in the field-service toolkit of the future, is here. In the following sections, we will lift the lid and look under the bonnet to see how it is being used today.

 


 

Screenshot 2021-04-16 at 14.11.07

 

If you would like to read this exclusive paper right away Field Service News 

subscribers across all our subscription tiers can currently access this paper instantly by hitting the button below.

If you are yet to subscribe you can join our free-forever subscription tier FSN Standard by hitting the button to access a dedicated registration page that provides you instant access to this white paper PLUS you will also be able to access our monthly selection of premium resources as soon as you are registered.

 

 

Subscribe to Access

 


Help Lightning2Data usage note: By accessing this content you consent to the contact details submitted when you registered as a subscriber to fieldservicenews.com to be shared with the listed sponsor of this premium content Help Lightning who may contact you for legitimate business reasons to discuss the content of this white paper, as per the terms and conditions of our privacy policy available here which is in line with GDPR regulations and is an ongoing condition of subscription.