Categories: Technology

How Augmented Reality Can Empower Field Technician Proficiency

Field Technician

“If you can read, you can learn anything about everything and everything about anything,” said the legendary children’s author Tomie DePaola. Indeed, the past two decades have been characterized by an enthusiasm for self-study and innovative learning methods. Since the term was coined in the late 1990s, e-learning has been revolutionizing education and training as we know it. It’s one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, following a whopping 900 percent acceleration since 2000.

“While Virtual Reality immerses the user in a completely digital world and requires him to learn the rules that apply in it, Augmented Reality can be seen as a technological advancement that has a much lower entry barrier. ”

There’s no doubt one can gain tremendous personal and professional benefits through traditional methods like reading and e-learning. However, when it comes to complex technical skills like fixing safety equipment or operating heavy machinery, is this necessarily true?

How AR Can Take Technical Training to The Next Level

Field Technician

AR, the technology that superimposes atop a real-life environment, can bridge the gap between e-learning and the practicality of hands-on training. While the most famous applications of AR might be the 2016 game Pokémon Go or Instagram filters, experts hail AR as one of the most exciting developments in skill training.

According to Christian Bauszus, Global Business Owner Services at dormakaba, especially when it comes to installation and repair processes, AR not only fast-tracks the learning process but also provides an accessible and engaging experience. “Technologies develop fast,” he said. “With growing portfolios under management and a variety of configuration options with new or more complex products field technicians have a hard time remaining up-to-date. AR helps field technicians to learn new products faster and supports them during all stages of their work, including installation, maintenance, and repair – key elements for a successfully managed service organization.”

AR is also user-friendly and accessible. It has a lower barrier of entry compared to other technologies because many applications can be used with a mobile phone. Augmented reality is seen as a technological advancement that will help solve challenges in an ever more complex world. In this way, AR will open many opportunities for new business models.

Christian Bauszus, Global Business Owner Services at dormakaba

AR-powered Technical Learning: Safe, Immersive, and Ongoing

When it comes to learning, nothing trumps immersion and practice to reach excellence. This is especially true when it comes to the skills required by field technicians, whose dexterity might directly affect safety and security.

In a traditional learning environment, it might not be possible for a trainee field technician to keep repeating a high-risk task. However, thanks to AR, trainees could interact with virtual models in the real world. This way, they can gain an immersive experience to boost the safety of their future operations even more.

Chris Naunheimer is a Portfolio Manager at ABB Industrial Automation. He believes that AR-powered technical training makes the processes safer and more efficient — not just for those who are acquiring new skills, but for the seasoned field technicians to freshen up.

AR means people have the most relevant, up to date [safety] procedure that’s accessible

Chris Naunheimer, Portfolio Manager at ABB Industrial Automation

Particularly those who operate heavy machinery or equipment that could cause any safety concerns, AR keeps the skills of field technicians optimized. “[AR is] good to have as a training tool, for people doing something for the first time. But I also think there’s value in something like this, for people that have done things over and over and over again,” Mr. Naunheimer added, “because procedures change, but people are very slow to change.”

As Christian Bauszus puts, field technicians never run out of new things to learn in a world of such fast-paced technology. However, thanks to the AR revolution, they can keep up with the dazzling technological developments, while ensuring the people around them are safe and secure.

David Shapira

David Shapira

David currently works as CTO at Swiss Innovation Forces, and is particularly skilled in industrial applications of AR. As part of his thesis for his Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zurich, he established a partnership with dormakaba. David developed an AR-based application that supports field technicians during the installation of dormakaba's sensor gates.