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Technology changes daily, and the need for consistent and ongoing technician training is essential to an efficient fleet operation.

Design Interactive has created Augmentor, which is an instructor-led and self-guided training platform enhanced by augmented reality using technology and augmented reality.

ClassroomXR is the instructor-led feature that allows a central instructor to live-stream a training session to remote technicians. Still, unlike standard video conference tools, the training content is enhanced by augmented reality. It can include anything from schematics to 3D models used to show examples of what technicians might find in the field. 

Augmentor lets technicians download procedures, including what an instructor used in a classroom, onto their mobile device to review when they conduct a service or to refresh their knowledge anywhere, anytime. 

Additionally, the software includes remote video collaboration, a feature similar to Facetime that lets a technician show a remote expert what they see or demonstrate they have learned a skill. 

“Together, these features support the see one, do one, teach one training approach,” according to Matt Johnston, division head of commercial solutions for Design Interactive.

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Top Technician Challenges Solved

One major challenge Augmentor helps solve: the reduction of travel.

“It is expensive to ask technicians to travel to a central training event.  ClassroomXR can reach more technicians simultaneously at lower cost,” Johnston explained.

Also, fleets can increase compliance and first-time fix rates.

“Procedures are published to the cloud at a click of a button, making a procedure available to all technicians simultaneously, that they can use to follow and execute a task,” he added.

Fleets can also speed up the distribution of training if a recall or technical service bulletin (TSB) is issued. 

“Maintenance leaders may send an e-mail and rely on shop managers to communicate the repair, and a technician may not use the information for weeks or months. With Augmentor, a trainer can run a classroom and/or reach remote technicians simultaneously, and all technicians can download the procedure without playing the telephone game,” Johnston said.

Once on a phone or tablet, the technician has the information they need when they are presented with a vehicle subject to a TSB or recall.

Increasing Technician Capabilities

In addition to reducing travel cost, increasing compliance, and speeding up the distribution of training, Augmentor also works on mobile devices reducing overall expenses and cost compared with other augmented reality solutions.

“You can learn to create content in a two-hour training class or less, with no special skills needed. If you have created PowerPoint slides and attached them to an e-mail, you have the skills needed,” Johnston added.

In contrast to a hands-on or live training where the trainee can only use what is in front of them, AR lets allows the creation of multiple versions. 

“For example, if you are teaching inspection of a rotor, you might only have one or two real rotors to use in live training. A slideshow might show 2D pictures of other examples in a classroom, but in AR, you can show 3D examples at scale. More realistic than slideshows and more breadth than typical live training,” he said.

Real-World Use

SAF-HOLLAND is a manufacturer of chassis components, including truck and trailer axle and suspension systems, fifth wheels, couplings, and landing gear for all major Class 8 tractors and semi-trailers for North America.

SAF-HOLLAND utilizes Augmentor in its truck fleet for two main reasons: Reduced travel and the ability to train a larger audience.

“In the past, we’ve had to travel to our customer locations to train. But, Augmentor allows us to provide an engaging virtual experience in real-time for our customers without the travel, helping us to reduce our costs,” noted Tony Ryan, technical service & training manager for SAF-Holland. “The virtual classroom allows us to conduct sessions with a wide audience right through the tool. The power of the learning tool provides a higher level of training that increases the technician’s content retention. When a technician retains more content, they increase in their job efficiency and satisfaction.”

SAF-HOLLAND began using the Augmentor for a variety of training as well as for a sales tool.

“It has enabled us to easily train technicians important maintenance procedures in addition to troubleshooting/diagnosis,” shared Doug Dorn, director of sales for SAF-Holland. “In the past one-and-a-half months, we have been able to present new product technology, features, and options in addition to sales training. It’s been a good tool to assist dealers better when specifying fifth wheels for their truck customers as well as helping to determine the appropriate suspension/axle/brake system for trailer customers.”

Top 4 Augmentor FAQs

While virtual reality is becoming more commonplace, there are still several questions frequently asked by fleets. We’ve listed a few below to help clarify some common concerns:

Q: How difficult is it to create content? 

A: Design Interactive staff can train users to create content in less than two hours. And, the company includes a train the trainer program in any purchase. You need no special skills. 

Q: How long does it take to create content? 

A: The software is easy to use, according to Matt Johnston, division head of commercial solutions for Design Interactive.

“You use a simple interface to drag and drop pictures, videos, or 3D models and assemble a step wise procedure. The time commitment depends on the length or complexity of a procedure, but it takes no more time than it takes to make an in-class PowerPoint,” he explained

Q: I don’t have the 3D models you speak of. Can I still use AR? 

A: Yes. The software is specifically built so you can reuse images, videos, and PDFs you already have. If you have slides in a PowerPoint you can export those as JPS and add them to a procedure at the website.

“We understand potential customers see a high barrier to entry with AR, that is why we specifically made the software compatible with training content you already have and use,” Johnston said.

Q: The hardware is expensive, right? 

A: Johnston recommends starting with ClassroomXR.

“This feature requires 1 HoloLens for the instructor. Nobody else needs an AR headset and can watch any lesson from a PC or laptop. Further, fleets can download the content onto a phone or tablet. So, the idea that all technicians or all facilities must have a heads-up display is not true. You need one headset, and you can impact your entire organization almost immediately,” Johnston explained

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