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Maintenance

On-Site Expertise Is Crucial to Uptime in Field Services

In today’s customer-driven service landscape, uptime in field services is a crucial key performance indicator (KPI). Accuracy and speed count for a lot. On-site expertise is invaluable in maintaining this KPI, but the field service worker’s knowledge or access to knowledge might be limited.

Traditionally, workers would have had to rely on unreliable communications or static manuals to overcome this stumbling block. Fortunately, enhanced technology solutions, such as augmented reality (AR) delivered through mobile devices, are supporting on-site expertise in field services and boosting uptime in the process.

When On-Site Expertise Is a Problem

Increasing technological complexities, a phase lag in training or complicated challenges on the ground might test a field service worker’s capacity to deliver accurate and speedy service.

In such circumstances, to maintain uptime in field services, the worker is forced to rely on limited access to expertise. Unconnected workers consult the stacks of manuals that travel with them or call a more experienced coworker for insights. If that doesn’t work, the worker can call the customer service representative to reroute another worker to the site, reschedule the service call so a more experienced person can address the problem or replace more parts than necessary, adding to the total cost for the customer.

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Occasionally an expert might schedule a follow-up service call only to discover that a crucial part is needed. This often necessitates a third appointment. Additional problems can arise if the communication between workers is not seamless and error-free. If the first field service employee does not accurately or comprehensively document the problem, the called-in expert might not have all the information necessary to correctly attend to the situation.

These backup methods are time-, labor- and cost-intensive, and negatively affect uptime in field services, which can affect the customer service experience.

How Mobile Platforms Support Uptime

One of the strongest advantages of mobility is that it enables on-site expertise in field services. The field service worker can search for information through tagged keywords in a proprietary knowledge base. The mobile device can also enable AR applications that help workers fix the problem faster.

AR allows the service worker to overlay a digital image of what the machine should look like against what it actually looks like on the field. Comparing the two can pinpoint the source of the problem, leading to faster resolution and increased uptime in field services.

If that alone is not enough, workers can also use collaboration AR software from a provider such as Librestream on the Samsung device that enables an off-site expert to dial in through video and advise about next steps.

Similarly, AR applications such as Smart Assistance from JoinPad enable powerful collaboration between experts. Workers can even write on the screen (telestration) to make notes and refer to specific problem areas. The two can share data, make annotations and connect in real time to resolve the challenge and effectively increase uptime. In both live collaboration and database reference, AR effectively brings in an external resource to expand the on-site expertise available in field services.

Since AR allows all workers to see the same picture, the expert might also be able to recognize when a certain part is about to fail or if there are upselling opportunities. If the worker has the required part on hand, they can suggest a proactive replacement, which in turn will improve the customer service experience.

Given that on-site expertise is crucial to uptime in field services, companies must do all they can to make such knowledge available at all times without excessive overhead costs. Mobile devices enable technologies such as AR to empower the field worker to access additional expertise when needed. By only leveraging expert help when they need it most, field service companies increase uptime and customer loyalty, while also being more efficient about resource allocation.

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Poornima Apte

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Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte is a mechanical engineer turned award-winning writer. Her work has been published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, OZY, Vox Media and other publications.

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