Augmented Reality and how it’s going to disrupt Field Service Management

Coined in 1990 by Boeing researcher Thomas Caudell, Augmented Reality (AR) has now become an increasingly popular and talked about technology today. Simply put, AR augments or enhances the users’ real-world surroundings with superimposed graphics, audio, and other sensory enhancements.

As history would have it, Pokémon Go is said to bring in the idea of AR into the mainstream and now the reality is that – the gamification of AR revealed just how fast users could adapt to viewing the juxtaposition of the digital and physical world, thus highlighting the disruptive power for enterprise adoption of AR for myriad uses, including field service management (FSM). Icon.

Modern day FSM is designed to keep track of the various components of field operations like inventory management, vehicle tracking, scheduling, etc. These components are usually controlled through a cloud-based portal that can be accessed from any mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone by the field technicians on their on-site visit.

The application of AR in field service operations is an absolute game changer. By leveraging the AR technology, the field service technicians can gain knowledge required in order to solve any technical issues of their customers. An efficient way to address the issues is to enlist the support of a specialist who can assess the situation using AR tools to provide real-time expert assistance. This in turn helps to save money on transport and accommodation costs for carrying experts to field service sites. Moreover, there is a fair chance of an issue being resolved during the first field service visit itself. This is a win-win situation as it helps to enhance the customer experience, which is the ultimate aim of any business. Furthermore, with the help of AR, a less-skilled service technician can make an initial call, just to keep things moving.

On a different scenario, a quick scan of the QR codes using AR glasses could provide detailed information about where to locate the replacement parts of a particular devise or provide details of its production and repair history.

Experts believe that the future for AR in field service looks promising. At the LiveWorx technology conference last year, Caterpillar demonstrated an AR system for its XQ35 on-site portable generators. In the demo, the user simply pointed an iPad at the generator, and the device promptly displayed the operating instructions over the image of the generator.

In the years to come, experts opine that AR is expected to become more than $5 billion business, and so, it can be safely pointed out that companies are increasingly realising the competitive potential of AR. The more widespread the technology becomes, the more indispensable it will be for business development. Hence, it is essential for field service providers to explore the immense capabilities of the enhanced reality.

Note: This was first written as part of my freelance project.

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