Unplanned downtime is the bane of every operations manager’s existence. For them, perhaps nothing can be more painful than watching productivity plummet as employees sit idly due to equipment failure.
Historically, the only option for solving such an issue was for an experienced in-house maintenance and repair technician to call a remote technical support professional to discuss the problem. If that effort failed, then a field support technician authorized by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) had to travel to the site to assess — and hopefully fix — the issue. With travel alone potentially taking 24–48 hours, as well as representing an added expense, the costs of unplanned downtime can add up quickly.
Enter video-enabled remote technical support, solutions made possible by advances in wearable technologies developed for industrial applications. These emerging options combine (optional) smart glasses with augmented reality (AR) capabilities and built-in video cameras to accelerate equipment issue resolution. When these smart glasses are worn by an in-house technician — or someone familiar with the equipment’s operation (although perhaps not trained in repair) — their view of the problem is transmitted to a remote technical support representative.
The solution enables “see what I see” troubleshooting by giving a remote technical support team a clear view of the issue for real-time diagnosis and consultation. Not only can they make more targeted, specific recommendations for the steps to be taken to resolve the problem, but they can also direct the hands-free wearer of the smart glasses to shift their focus or make manual adjustments under direct supervision. Further, they can display schematics, graphics, snapshots, video, messaging and documents into the field of view of the wearer’s smart glasses. This provides a visual illustration of key components to help identify damage or direct repair processes.
All of these capabilities dramatically reduce the time required to achieve a resolution, significantly decreasing unplanned equipment downtime. What’s more, anyone can wear these devices, regardless of their level of maintenance expertise, as their actions will be guided by a remote expert. This solution also eliminates the need for an on-site visit from a technical or service expert, as well as the associated travel costs.
In our most recent On The Move webinar, I explained how leveraging wearable video-enablement devices and AR for remote maintenance brings fast issue resolution into view. It also should be noted that these same technologies can be used to support picking and order fulfillment processes, training, and virtual testing of proposed facility designs and modifications.