Augmented Reality Is Driving Real Benefits for Companies

Augmented Reality (AR) isn’t just a nice-to-have for businesses anymore. It’s a necessity.

It’s no longer just about having the coolest, latest accessories. Augmented Reality technology is changing the world. It’s catapulting businesses toward greater growth and innovation. It’s changing the way businesses address big problems. It’s empowering companies to serve customers and communicate with employees across all types of enterprises. Manufacturing, logistics, and field support are all areas that are already seeing a tremendous impact with Augmented Reality tech.

Benefits of AR in the Enterprise (1)

Consider the aging workforce. According to the Center for Disease Control, by 2018 nearly 24% of the total U.S. workforce will be age 55 or older; this is compared to 18% in 2008. The number of these workers is projected to grow by 46.7% or 5.5 times the growth rate in the overall labor force. Some of the most experienced, knowledgeable minds are saturated with decades of information. When these valuable, experienced employees retire, that knowledge leaves with them unless they properly on-board and train new employees. But, historically, the on-boarding and training processes have presented challenges. It’s hard to get people up to speed, to curb the learning curve. Money is wasted, time is squandered, and the knowledge isn’t absorbed.

But what if technology, namely AR, could help soon-to-retire employees manage and train the next generation? Station these experienced employees at a central location where they can be the eyes and ears to a handful of trainees in the field, remotely teaching and directing them exactly what to do and how to do it. This type of innovative training technique is a more effective way to pass along decades of knowledge in less time, using fewer resources with fewer errors.

Digital printing giant Xerox Corporation has been exploring AR for a similar use. Historically, if there was an issue with a piece of Xerox equipment at a customer’s location, the customer had to place a call to the Xerox Welcome Center and wait for a call back from a Xerox Field Engineer (FE). If the FE could not resolve the issue over the phone, then an onsite visit was required. Customers often had to wait hours for the over-taxed FE’s to arrive and complete repairs.

Xerox took a new approach to this problem by placing an experienced technician in the Welcome Center and provided all FE’s with access to an augmented reality solution. The FE could then stream the issue real-time to the experienced technician, and the technician could send back step by step instructions, videos, or anything else needed to complete the repair. This approach resulted in a 76% improvement of resolution rates for their customers in just 4 months. They also improved the First Time Dix (FTF) rates by 67%.

What if you could use AR to make a very complicated process, like wiring an electrical harness for a machine, easier? For companies like aircraft manufacturere Boeing, connecting miles of electrical wiring for an airplane requires assemblers to follow massive stacks of paper diagrams. This cumbersome process exposes service employees to a huge potential for errors. Instead, AR enables these team members to wear smart glasses that guide them through the process without having to take their hands off the wiring.  Studies show a 90% improvement in error rates, speed and performance when employees at Boeing used Augmented Reality versus a paper document or online pdf.

International shipping company DHL recognized the potential need for AR in their warehousing operations. DHL estimates that package picking and employee training accounts for 55% to 65% of their warehousing operation expense. In a typical warehouse, employees use paper to select items in the warehouse for shipping. This process can be slow and prone to errors.

DHL has been experimenting with ways to use AR tech to automate this process, beginning with object picking, barcode scanning, and indoor navigation. This allows workers to pick the correct items and find the most efficient route across the warehouse. Initial measurements have shown a 40% decrease in picking errors and an overall 25% boost in productivity.

These are just the beginning of what AR tech can do for companies. What benefits can you achieve from investing the saved time, money, and resources in products and staff to further grow your enterprise? At NKLS, we recognize the power of AR technology and how emerging technologies can equip people in the workplace.