Basics

When a field service technician opens a work order, they are tasked with dissembling, troubleshooting, part replacement, or other actions required to restore a pipe, cable, or other utility system back to operational condition. Such field work is not easy, and in fact utility line workers are ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous professions in the country due to the dangers inherent in high power systems.

The use of augmented reality in asset repair tasks allows workers to have immediate on-hand (and in some scenarios hands-free) support throughout the course of their field work. Via an AR-equipped device, field workers can display relevant work instructions and procedures in the field of view for safer and more efficient repair work.

Augmented Reality Technologies

Depending upon the specific work required by a utility company, field technicians might utilize an AR-enabled mobile device like a tablet and/or a head-mounted display akin to smart glasses to enable augmented reality asset repair.

The chosen devices can integrate with a company’s computer networks and enterprise databases. This allows field technicians to quickly and efficiently query and update repair and customer-based information. Advanced augmented reality asset repair systems can support remote expert interaction and feedback via collaboration tools like video conferencing for best use with new or otherwise inexperienced workers.

Data Sources

An augmented reality asset repair system draws on a variety of key data sources like:

  • Asset inventories complete with details like value, type, and location
  • Utility maintenance procedures and training guides
  • Customer and geolocation service records and histories
  • Vegetation and mineral profiles

Advantages of AR Use

The advantages of augmented reality systems in asset repair include:

  • Quicker response times due to geolocation services that can map out directions and pinpoint repair areas.
  • Improved safety and efficiency thanks to easy and immediate access to manuals and other key information.
  • Reduced downtime as all of the necessary information is available at the user’s fingertips.
  • Thanks to integrated video conferencing, there is greater efficiency in augmented reality asset repair as their is less need for a large physical team preference at a given repair site.

Users

Any field technician who repairs linear assets, such as pipe networks and cable systems, or nonlinear assets, such as generators and pipes, and their associates or collaborative team members.

A few example scenarios:

  • A field technician might use an AR-equipped mobile device and ‘point’ at a given closed system to accurately identify via an overlay where the technician needs to dig or otherwise access the system.
  • Once a problem area has been exposed, the same AR-equipped device can be used to pull up product or construction information it. Field technicians can seamlessly receive an overlay indicating suggested repairs.
  • The field supervisor is capable of keeping live communication with all of their technicians via the AR-equipped deices. They can read notes, make suggestions, contact operations center, and ensure their team stays on schedule thanks to integration with ERP and similar systems.