Photo: RealWear
Vw Realwear 2

VW deploys AR tech for van maintenance in UK

March 10, 2020
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ network of 97 van repair shops and authorized dealers in the U.K. are now equipping technicians with wearable computers to improve repair efficiency by 93%.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ network of 97 van repair shops and authorized dealers across the United Kingdom are now equipping their technicians with the RealWear HMT-1 augmented-reality (AR) headsets to connect remotely with expert mechanics and decrease repair time on complex jobs.

The nationwide deployment comes on the heels of successful testing that began in 2018 where the Volkswagen Group used the RealWear headset in conjunction with the Atheer AR platform to create the Remote Expert Live Support (RELS) system.

The pilot found that repair efficiency skyrocketed by 93%, saving customers the equivalent to one year of downtime, or £250,000 ($328,295 US). Because experts weren’t traveling all around the isle to disparate garages and shops, an estimated 2.5 tonnes of CO2 were also saved.

“Following a hugely successful trial, we have decided to invest in the augmented reality technology to allow us to support our world-class technicians and valued customers alike,” said David Hanna, head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. “As part of our Working With You promise, we are committed to keeping customer vehicles on the road and minimizing downtime – this technology provides the perfect solution by reducing the time a van spends in the workshop as well as improving the sustainability of our technical support operation.”

The investment is even more critical as the Volkswagen Group UK plans on producing 22 million electric vehicles in the next decade, giving technicians 70 new highly complex models to service. The mechanics based at VW’s various Van Centers and Mobile Service Clinics may not have the experience to quickly diagnose and repair these issues, but an expert at the Technical Support Center will.

Once the onsite tech dons the voice-activated wearable technology, they can instantly communicate with the offsite expert, who can see what the worker sees via the device’s camera. Once the issue is recognized, the expert can communicate instructions verbally through the headset receiver and/or by sending wiring diagrams, annotated work instructions or even video through the monocular display.

The solution provides several solo benefits for connected workers as well, including access to hands-free work instructions that can be expanded via voice command and playback of training videos. In-house electrical experts can even record their own training videos for the rest of the crew.

“We have seen the power of Augmented Reality and believe it will be a major driver to transform the way we service and maintain the millions of new Volkswagen Group vehicles that will hit in the road the next few years,” said Metin Tahsin, Volkswagen Group UK technical support manager.

The group joins a growing number of repair faculties using the ruggedized HMT-1, which launched in 2017 to provide industrial customers a safe, hands-free way to access information in demanding environments. Volvo Group Trucks Central Europe and Renault Trucks have used the device with various software platforms, while in the U.S., BMW of North America has committed to using the technology at its 347 dealers. Ubimax, which provides the software for the BMW deployment, said repair speed was increased by 75%.

More recently, RealWear teamed with Tencent in China to combat the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak by connecting frontline healthcare workers with offsite doctors.

About the Author

John Hitch | Editor

John Hitch, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is the editor of Fleet Maintenance, a B2B magazine that addresses the service needs for all commercial vehicle makes and models (Classes 1-8), ranging from shop management strategies to the latest tools to enhance uptime.

He previously wrote about equipment and fleet operations and management for FleetOwner, and prior to that, manufacturing and advanced technology for IndustryWeek and New Equipment Digest. He is an award-winning journalist and former sonar technician aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

For tips, questions or comments, email [email protected].

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