Remote collaboration tools have seen increased usage in the last decade, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed that growth into overdrive. Workers in almost all industries adapted to work and collaborate remotely, including in the industrial space. Collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been widely adopted by those working in the office and also by those working out in the field or on the factory floor. One of the areas where remote collaboration has grown a lot is remote assistance and the utilization of remote experts to help technicians solve problems.
Remote Experts and Remote Assistance
Many industrial processes such as maintenance, training, inspections, operator rounds, and manufacturing require the occasional (or regular) assistance of an expert to help a technician or other employee who is completing one of the listed tasks. Remote collaboration means that the expert no longer needs to be on-site to provide the help, but can do so from anywhere in the world.
- Image: Remote collaboration (Source: fizkes/Shutterstock.com)
The Benefits of Using Remote Experts
Benefits accrue when using remote experts to assist field workers or customers vs having them travel to the job site, including:
- Reduced cost: operating expenses such as travel and shipping are reduced.
- Better problem resolution: problems can be solved quicker and trouble-shooting conducted more efficiently. Improved collaboration leads.
- More time savings: Teams can work together in real-time and solve problems in minutes rather than hours or days. New technicians can also be onboarded quicker.
- Improved safety: Fewer people on-site means a safer site and less chance of workplace injury.
- Better quality inspections and maintenance: remote collaboration helps reduce downtime and disruptions to your business.
- Accelerated digital transformation: By implementing these tools you push your company further into the industrial digital age.
How Your Remote Experts Can Be More Efficient
While using remote collaboration tools allows for remote assistance and drastically improves the maintenance, inspection, and repair processes, remote experts can be even more efficient. This involves a simple two-step process:
1. Use wearable devices such as RealWear
Firstly, implement hardware such as wearable devices (e.g. RealWear) to improve the visibility of the process for the expert and allow the technician to be hands-free. The usage of these devices has drastically changed the way remote assistance is conducted, with the see-what-I-see capability meaning that the expert can guide the technician through an issue in real-time. The ability for the technician to do their job while being hands-free will directly make them more efficient while also improving their safety.
Using these devices is a step up from the established method of using a phone, tablet, laptop, or even pen and paper. Photos can be taken hands-free, documentation viewed while still working on the asset, and new technicians can receive real-world real-time training.
- Image: Digital maintenance (Source: Blue Planet Studio/Shutterstock.com)
2. Implement the JourneyApps Remote Assist Phonebook App (now RealWear Connect)
The RealWear Connect app makes the process of reaching the correct remote expert when assistance is required so much quicker and more efficient. While collaboration tools such as Zoom and Teams are great tools for use by remote experts, reaching and setting up a call with an expert can be a time-consuming and tiresome endeavor. Instead of trying to call someone one by one, and only being able to set up a call once the right expert answers, this app uses a system of contact groups and concurrent push notifications to cut the time it takes to reach an expert by up to 77%.
The app automatically notifies all contacts within the selected contact group that assistance has been requested and with a link to join the call. Once the call has been joined by one contact, other contacts are notified that their help is no longer needed.
Remote experts are an important part of many processes at industrial companies and making the use of these experts as efficient as possible is essential. Companies can save time, save money, improve safety, and improve overall job quality by having an efficient remote assistance program. By using wearable headsets, implementing remote collaboration tools, and supplementing these tools with the JourneyApps Remote Assist Phonebook app, companies can reap these benefits.