Six months after basic training, the US Army had authorized me to repair $29 million Chinook helicopters. During my second week, I broke a $4,000 fuel filter.

Was I the best guy for the job? Probably not.

This is a common challenge in field service. Sometimes you have to send the FNG (****** new guy) because your most experienced techs are half a world away on another job.

The problem is getting worse for manufacturers. According to a 2015 survey by Deloitte, eight in 10 manufacturing executives believe the expanding skills gap will affect their ability to keep up with customer demand.

Innovative manufacturers like NOV and OCME are using augmented reality via smart glasses to “upskill” their labor force instantly. The unique form factor of smart glasses gives workers hands-free access to remote expert assistance or line-of-sight instructions. With this technology, manufacturers can:

  • Reduce the travel costs of sending experts on-site
  • Improve job satisfaction by reducing time spent traveling
  • Minimize the time to complete tasks
  • Remotely train new workers

Below are the most common use cases for augmented reality that provide value today.

Use Case #1: Customer SLA Support

A strong SLA is a competitive differentiator. One approach our machine builder customers take is shipping a pair of smart glasses with every piece of equipment. When issues arise, the customer can send a live video feed back to the manufacturer for instant support.

Live video allows technicians to diagnose and solve problems much faster than static pictures. In addition, the customer is getting hands-on training to solve repeat technical issues in-house.

Use Case #2: Field Service

Even a brand new tech can get the job done right the first time when they have remote support from back office experts. Often your field tech will have general maintenance knowledge but not specific expertise about a customer’s issue. With smart glasses, you can deliver that expertise remotely.

In addition, this technology allows senior techs to remotely support multiple junior techs without ever leaving the office. Job satisfaction for senior techs improves because they can solve field issues without getting in a truck or on a plane.

Use Case #3: Training and Support

Most manufacturers train trainees by having them follow a trainer in hopes the trainees learn by osmosis. This process is especially time consuming with the increases in complexity of modern manufacturing equipment.

Instead of expensive one-on-one training, remote video collaboration scales your trainers’ ability train to multiple techs and lowers the opportunity cost of training.

In addition to one-to-many remote training, trainees can also record a first-person view of their training sessions to be shared with future trainees. These videos can be pulled up on a trainee’s smart glasses whenever they guidance on a complex task or saved for QA purposes.

Conclusion

We are entering a business transformation where technology will move from what we carry to what we wear. This transformation promises greater accuracy, productivity, efficiency, and safety for manufacturers.

The form factor of laptops, desktops, and smart phones have prevented manufacturers from taking advantage of the productivity improvements available to office workers via software. Until now.

Watch our interview with NOV to learn how they are using this technology to improve customer service and reduce time to resolution for its customers.

Whether you’re new to smart glasses or have already validated this technology, NOV’s interview highlights ways to solve implementation challenges such as connectivity and how to choose the right hardware for your environment.

P.S. I sincerely apologize to American taxpayers for breaking a $4,000 piece of military hardware.