Service and Logistics Will Take Pole Position in the Race for Broad Adoption of AR
IDC forecasts that by 2020, 25 percent of field service technicians will use AR. Oil and gas, a key industry in the sector, is also said to become $5-7B AR market by 2021, according to Activate. Many also believe that the impact of AR in logistics is “a real no brainer.”
Certainly, we don’t think manufacturing is going to be left behind, nor is it going to slow down, but we do think there are some scalability factors accelerating field service and logistics adoption more quickly.
First, this is because AR-powered material handling and field service applications tend to have a high degree of solution repeatability, as well as less infrastructure turnover requirements than their manufacturing counterparts. Manufacturing operations are extremely complex and run with trusted processes built up over years of experience and fine tuning – you simply don’t disrupt that overnight. In contrast, material handling in warehouses centers around a single high-value use case – order fulfillment – with nice integration points (e.g. a warehouse management system) and familiarity with mobile devices. Similarly, field service environments have built friendliness towards mobile computing and cloud-delivered software, and a handful of use cases that can be supported with little to no system and process integration.
Second, more businesses are looking to monetize service revenue, AR will help increase maintenance-based performance and margin to deliver real ROI. This is particularly important for manufacturers that are transforming their business models to incorporate equipment as a service model – AR helps lower their cost of sale as well as adding further opportunities to monetize their post-delivery services. For machine and equipment manufacturers, AR also will enable monetization of their intellectual property by incorporating their design and engineering content to build the service & maintenance manuals of the future.
Third, field service can readily take advantage of AR for collaborative purposes and training. With AR delivered on smart glasses, workers can receive information from centralized areas, collect it and feed it to other employees to benefit the entire workforce. Similarly, AR will streamline training, allowing workers to receive incremental, immersive and “on-the-job” instructions with instantaneously available information to expedite and improve learning.
By the way, this isn’t signaling to the manufacturers that they should stop investing in AR to enhance and transform their operations. Manufacturers also run significant field service and logistics operations every day, and those operations may be a target of opportunity for a faster adoption. They should look to making the right investments on the right use case that have a quick path to positive ROI while allowing maximum reusability from the initial deployments – which Skylight was designed to do. As seen by early adopters such as The Boeing Company who first introduced AR in their complex assembly operations, AR has quickly become a competitive advantage with improved productivity and quality.
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