Why your technicians need real-time access to expertise 

augmented reality in manufacturing

When it comes to field operations, every second is essential.

The sooner a technician successfully finishes the task, the sooner work may resume, and they can move to another customer.

Time is money, and in such cases, access to real-time expertise can make a significant difference.

However, the use of real-time access to necessary expertise can be so much more – it can also mean greater customer satisfaction, a more confident and skilled workforce, and a safer workplace.

So, let’s take a look at how real-time access to knowledge can transform your operations.

Workforce support and real-time expertise

Workforce support, in general, helps workers to carry out tasks confidently and autonomously.

According to a study by Gartner, with every finished job, they can feel more empowered and ensured of their skills, encouraging them to enhance their performance further.

And since the industry is adapting to a post-covid world and second visits may not be an option, support helps workers to deal with the pressure to finish tasks on the first try.

Real-time access to expertise is an indispensable part of the three tiers of support a company can offer to its employees:

      • Workers gain relevant information and instructions needed to carry out tasks and work autonomously
      • Workers collaborate and learn from each other to enhance problem-solving skills
      • Workers are enabled to contact a remote expert when facing a complex issue

Supporting the workforce with real-time data has been necessary in field service for a while now, and the trend is starting to grow into other industries as well – manufacturing included.

This is especially true for maintenance technicians or operators in subsidiaries of global manufacturing companies – as real-time data increases the efficiency of operations and improves the accuracy and quality of the final product.

Yet, despite being aware of the benefits, organizations tend not to set up a strategy allowing their workforce to access real-time knowledge.

Organizations have learned to predict how a machine will break and when or how to get a technician to the facility on time.

But from then on, workers are often on their own or face several difficulties. When technicians want to perform tasks and communicate with management, dispatch, or field support, many have to use several apps and switch between them.

When handling machinery, not being able to focus with both hands on the task is tricky and possibly dangerous. And without a specific strategy, almost half of the technicians depend on communication through e-mails or phone calls at best.

This makes it difficult to reach an expert when an emergency occurs and causes significant delays.

Real-time collaboration

One way to tackle such issues is to use solutions allowing real-time collaboration, such as AR calls.

In an emergency, calls supercharged by augmented reality simplify the entire process. They enable technicians to reach an expert within seconds.

The professional on the other side can provide those in the field with step-by-step instructions drawn right into technicians’ view in real-time.

Such operations are often performed using wearable mobile technology such as glasses or headsets.

Workers have their hands free and are fully present when carrying out their tasks. AR video calls also get bonus points for saving time and cutting costs spent on fuel, as experts can offer advice remotely and do not have to travel to various sites in person.

There is no room for mistakes, accidents, or delays with a supported workforce – there is only room for more satisfied customers.

The diagnostics and issue solving are more efficient, and the faulty machines can be back in the business much quicker.

Besides the benefits real-time data can offer in collaborative problem-solving, it is also helpful in necessary processes such as onboarding or upskilling.

Considering the ever-growing skill gap and the lack of skilled workforce, capturing procedures, and sharing them through digital tools helps to retain essential tribal knowledge.

Training can be quicker and does not have to happen in person, as workers have all critical information and can work with it actively on the job.

Access to easy-to-follow instructions

Another obstacle is the use of paper-based instructions. Physical manuals are bulky, hard to navigate, and difficult and costly to update.

The language barrier can also be a problem – technicians’ mother tongue can differ from the one used in the manual.

Overly technical and complicated language without images or visual clues can make it hard to comprehend the steps.

Solutions such as knowledge software often contain a knowledge library accessible at any time and any place.

All necessary manuals and work instructions are available in one app. Standardized guides complemented by pictures and animations are easier to follow and guide workers through each step, ensuring operational procedures are carried out with precision.

No chaos in the field and on the shop floor means fewer mistakes and meeting high-quality production standards.

Digital instructions are also easier to update.

Together with the right knowledge management software harvesting necessary feedback from the workforce, your SOPs and operations will be the best shape they can be – lean and efficient.