The Time Is Right for Smart Glasses in DC Maintenance Operations
December 3, 2018
To many, the concept of smart glasses technology still seems like something out of a science fiction novel. Combining live video, audio, augmented reality (AR) overlays and secure networking capabilities, smart glasses give a wearer the ability to project images to a remote third party and receive information within their field of view. As smart glasses technology has matured rapidly in recent years, early adopters have sought to utilize its vast potential in industrial applications; the material handling industry is no exception.
For a variety of reasons, the time is right for the introduction of smart glasses technology, particularly in maintenance operations. We know that many companies are embarking on a journey of digital transformation, leveraging the industrial internet of things (IIoT) technologies to connect people and machines and usher in a new era of operational efficiencies. For these companies, smart glasses are already helping them digitize mission-critical maintenance workflows.
Fill the knowledge gap
It’s no secret that shifting labor demographics are placing tremendous strains on maintenance operations. According to some estimates, industry growth is currently outpacing the available labor pool by a ratio of six to one. As more baby boomers retire, there are fewer entrants stepping in to replace them. This trend is leaving a significant knowledge gap that many companies are scrambling to fill.
Smart glasses can have a tremendous impact on helping maintenance teams address this challenge and preserve their tribal knowledge. Through expert-led training by a supervisor or seasoned technician, smart glasses can help accelerate knowledge transfer through remote video assistance and even AR-based instruction. With smart glasses, even the most inexperienced staff members can perform difficult tasks, simply by relying on live remote guidance from a more qualified service or field technician.
Unplanned downtime on a critical piece of material handling or automation equipment can result in lost productivity and missed customer service levels. With downtime costing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour, every minute counts. Smart glasses can greatly limit downtime durations and their associated business costs.
By enabling real-time audio and video collaboration with an expert service team or remote field technician, smart glasses can provide immediate feedback for faster downtime recovery. Even small reductions in downtime represent significant savings potential for companies seeking to decrease their average mean time to repairs. In addition, smart glasses can help compensate for the lack of experience within their own maintenance crews and reduce the need for costly service calls.
Pair with service experts
The potential value of smart glasses technology is only magnified when paired with an expert service provider network. Such a partnership enables 24/7/365 access to equipment experts when you need them most, while allowing whoever is wearing the smart glasses to use the technology to its fullest. More than simply permitting the remote service team to see exactly what the on-site technician is dealing with, this partnership enables them to send real-time AR annotations, instructions and information that would otherwise be impossible.
As the technology continues to improve, smart glasses will evolve to offer increasingly more advanced functionalities for industrial applications. But since the technology is already very similar to using smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace, many companies have at least some of the infrastructure in place needed to implement a smart glasses component in their maintenance plan.
If you’re ready to learn more about the potential for smart glasses in your maintenance operations, start by taking a look at Honeywell Intelligrated’s TechSight and customer service solution.
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