Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is trialling augmented reality with a four month pilot of RealWear glasses technology in ten Van Centres ahead of a national roll out.
The bespoke augmented reality platform enables experts to send precise visual instructions remotely to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Van Centre and field technicians.
Using state-of-the-art RealWear glasses, technicians will be able to connect directly with the Technical Support Centre at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Technical Support Centre at head office in Milton Keynes. This virtual assistance will significantly reduce service time, as technicians will be supported throughout the diagnosis and repair of the vehicle. The technology includes a microphone, head camera, display screen and voice activation functionality that provides a fully augmented video broadcast.
This serves as a virtual technical support agent, guiding technicians through complex repairs by augmenting images, wiring diagrams and adding repair suggestions into their view whilst talking them through the necessary diagnostic steps.
If successful and effective, from June 2018, the technology will be rolled out to all Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles technicians including those that work across the brand’s Mobile Service Clinics that operate across the country.
Paul Anderson, Service Operations Manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “This is an exciting step forward in maximising uptime for our customers through the use of augmented reality and remote diagnostic tools. Our ultimate aim is to ensure we can keep the customers’ vehicles on the road for longer and that means reducing the time it takes to repair a vehicle when it’s in the workshop.
“The new devices allow our team of Technical Support Agents to support our network with a virtual visit which is as close as possible to the real thing – without the limitations. Factors such as time out of the office, speed to booking and travel time are stripped out leaving only the value of having our technical support agents virtually in the Van Centre to support the diagnostic process. There’s clearly an environmental benefit in this approach too.”
Augmented Reality, when combined with existing digital services such as screen-sharing of diagnostic equipment and remote control of vehicle functions when in the workshop has proven to be a powerful tool in the early stages of the pilot. Anderson added: “We believe this has future benefits beyond this application to support one-to-many coaching and providing a fast-link back to the Van Centre for Mobile Service Technicians.”
He concluded: “The benefits to the business are also clear. Through the reduction of diagnostic times we will have a direct impact on mobility costs which takes pressure off courtesy fleets and opens up additional capacity within the Van Centre to become more productive. This in turn leads to a happier and more invested workforce who feel fully supported by the manufacturer which will have an impact on costly attrition rates.”
John McNally, Service Director at the Cordwallis Volkswagen Van Centre is a part of the team involved in the pilot programme and said: “We have now started our augmented reality trial to help us deal with repairs and customer issues. I strongly believe that the technology will help us to work better as a network and will definitely improve our customer services in the near future.
“We have introduced our customers to the concept and have received extremely positive feedback on the use of this technology. We can already see substantial benefits and are expecting to see continued success when the programme is rolled out nationally.”
A demonstration of the technology will be available for visitors to view on the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles stand in Hall 4 at the CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham from 24-26 April.