Imagine how efficient intervention services could be if a specialist could advise technicians on location without needing to leave the office! This is what inspired ESAS to try Mixed Reality (MR) and Microsoft’s brand-new HoloLens.
Together with Neo, Xylos’ competence centre, ESAS developed a proof of concept with MR glasses to fix customers’ malfunctioning printers even more quickly. Two ESAS printer technicians can now count on experts in the office via their HoloLens whenever they need advice. The expert helps solve the problem remotely, the printer is fixed in the blink of an eye and the end customer doesn’t have to wait for a second intervention by the expert. This saves them valuable time – and as a bonus, the expert passes on their knowledge to the technician. It’s a win-win situation!
As part of a test project with industrial printers, ESAS’ technicians were given a Microsoft HoloLens to use on location. The HoloLens allows them to ask a colleague at the office for support when the issue is more difficult than expected.
Why is this helpful? Well, a good technician knows everything about 40 to 45 models, but some printer manufacturers produce up to 300 different models. As a result, it’s not always easy to pick the right technician for the job.
If a technician on site needs help during a technical intervention, they can use the Microsoft HoloLens to call the right expert. With the HoloLens, the expert at the office can look through the eyes of the technician, give oral instructions and use arrows to point at parts and illustrate how to fix certain issues. They can even open the printer manual through the HoloLens: thanks to Mixed Reality, the manual is projected live next to the printer, so that the technician can follow the instructions clearly, step by step and hands-free.
“The primary reason why we suggested this project was to save transport time,” says Wim Van Borm, leader of the competence centre Neo. “Usually, if a technician couldn’t solve a certain problem, they would have to call in a specialist and wait for them to arrive at the customer’s office.”
After an introductory meeting with ESAS, Neo came up with a solution and demo using the HoloLens. That demo convinced ESAS to carry out a proof of concept with two technicians and two experts.
ESAS tasked Neo with the technical support of the pilot project. Wim Van Borm: “We started by installing the necessary applications and making the accounts to activate the HoloLenses. Then we organised a short training session for the users at ESAS. Our first analyses show that ESAS was able to avoid extra trips in 80% of all cases and that they were able to help their customers faster. The customers can get back to work immediately and the experts help more customers per day.”
“With the HoloLens, we’ve got two technicians on site instead of just one,” adds Chris Lefrère, Director of Innovation and Business Development at ESAS. “The result? The customer is happy because it only took one intervention to solve the problem. The expert saves valuable transport time. The technician on site solves the problem immediately and learns on the job. And ESAS can support their customers with a much larger range of new products and quicker service. This is crucial in view of the explosively growing number of devices that need to be installed and serviced due to the Internet of Things. We’re convinced that the HoloLens will put a smile on many more faces.”
The second important advantage is that the technician benefits from the expert’s knowledge. “The technician on site solves the problem with the help of a colleague. They discuss what to do, but he’s the one doing the physical work”, Wim Van Borm explains. The technician experiences first-hand how to fix a certain issue and learns on the job instead of in a classroom or another theoretical learning environment. Practice makes perfect: over time, the technician will be able to solve more issues without the help of a specialist.
The HoloLens can also record a video of the entire process to share with others. This means that the technician isn’t just solving the issue, they’re also recording a tutorial for their colleagues to use when needed.
“Reality is the best place for innovation,” says Chris Lefrère. “At ESAS, we innovate our operations in the same way as the scrums used by IT teams. Skip lengthy research, avoid delays, put theory into practice immediately and leave the technological aspects to actual technicians in real-life situations from day one. After that, you learn from your most experienced technicians and improve based on their feedback. This lets you innovate faster, so that you can help your customers even better.”
“With the HoloLens, we’ve got two technicians on site instead of just one. The customer is happy because it only took one intervention to solve the problem. The expert saves valuable time. The technician on site solves the problem immediately and learns on the job. And ESAS is able to support their customers with a much larger range of new products and quicker service.”