As a leader in the connected worker software market, we have experienced the highs and the lows that the pandemic has brought to the industrial frontline worker market. One area that stands out in particular is the equipment field service space. Equipment OEMs typically support the installation, startup, maintenance, and repair of their products through […]

As a leader in the connected worker software market, we have experienced the highs and the lows that the pandemic has brought to the industrial frontline worker market. One area that stands out in particular is the equipment field service space. Equipment OEMs typically support the installation, startup, maintenance, and repair of their products through some combination of a direct service force, a dealer service network, or their customers. For sophisticated equipment, much of this work has required visits to the customer site, which was made virtually impossible when the COVID pandemic spread.   

This created a real problem, since the “instructions” available to support these services were designed for technicians that already knew how to perform the work.  OEMs had to quickly find a way to project some type of virtual presence, to mimic being on-site as closely as possible. 

This led to a rush to implement either industrial “remote expert” tools, enterprise collaboration products like Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams, or consumer products like FaceTime.

While these solutions have been good at providing a short term band-aid to relieve the symptom, they don’t really address the underlying problem – the lack of rich, interactive workflows that are able to guide technicians with a wide range of skills to perform these tasks safely, correctly, and at an acceptable level of productivity. It’s a similar scenario to taking aspirin to treat a fever from an infection – aspirin may provide short-term relief, but ultimately it masks the presence and reduces the urgency to treat the underlying cause. Without looking forward and taking the next step in the connected worker journey, OEM’s will forever be required to provide 100%, synchronous, live support to make sure these tasks are done correctly and that customers are satisfied.

Achieving Digital Maturity to Reduce Support Costs and Improve Customer Satisfaction 

At Augmentir, we see “Digitally Mature” organizations as those that are continually moving forward on the digital continuum and have the ability to drive continuous improvement through the adoption of tools that help digitally connect their workforce. 

For equipment OEMs, we see digital maturity happening over four stages of the connected worker journey: 

Connected Worker Journey in Field Service

Step 1 – Remote Assistance

Industrial AR-based remote assistance solutions that provide worker guidance and support are a simple first step in the connected worker journey. Designed to be used by field service technicians or customers, these industrial solutions allow companies to provide rich interactive (chat, voice, video) support to field techs or customers to solve an immediate need.

Step 2 – Augmented, Guided Instructions 

With a connected workforce, equipment OEMs can drive greater efficiency by digitizing paper-based work instructions and maintenance/repair procedures. Digital work instructions help intelligently guide technicians (or customers) of all skill levels to complete these tasks independently and correctly. 

In this scenario, remote assist plays a supporting role (as it should) to ensure customer satisfaction. Customers have higher satisfaction rates because the work is done on their time schedule and OEMs see a reduction in their direct support costs.  

Step 3 – AI Support Bots

OEMs can drive further service optimization through AI support bots that provide autonomous, digital assistance.

Service technicians that require additional support can benefit from AI bots that autonomously deliver answers to questions, digital content such as drawings, pictures and videos, and rich sets of digital work instructions, to help workers resolve issues and complete the work independently. This allows a portion of customer remote assist requests to be handled autonomously, further increasing customer satisfaction and reducing direct support costs.

Augmentir Remote Assist for Field Service Technicians

Step 4 – AI-based Opportunity Insights

As workers become more connected, companies have access to a new rich source of activity, execution, and tribal data, and with proper AI tools, can gain insights into areas where the largest improvement opportunities exist for their service delivery. Artificial Intelligence lays a data-driven foundation for continuous improvement in the areas of productivity, quality, and workforce development, setting the stage to address the needs of a constantly changing workforce.

For example, after Augmentir is deployed for a number of months, our AI engine will start identifying patterns in the data that will allow you to focus your efforts on the areas that have the biggest customer satisfaction, productivity, and field service workforce development opportunities. This will allow you to answer questions such as:

  • Where should I invest to get the biggest improvement in customer satisfaction?
  • What service tasks have the largest productivity or quality opportunity?
  • Where would targeted training give me the biggest return?

Augmentir’s True Opportunity™ engine continuously updates its insights to enable companies to focus on their largest areas of opportunity, enabling you to deliver year over year improvements in key customer service metrics.

What is Your Digital Maturity?

Imagine, as you move forward on your connected worker journey, increasing customer satisfaction while reducing support costs, all while making your service delivery more productive – across your direct staff, dealers, or end customers.

Contact us today to take our digital maturity assessment and start your journey towards a digitally connected enterprise.

Gartner recently published their annual Hype Cycle for Frontline Worker Technology, and Augmentir was recognized as an important player and solution provider. The report covers emerging tech categories for frontline workers including Connected Factory Workers, Remote Expert Guidance solutions, and Augmented Reality. Digital Technologies for Frontline Workers This Hype Cycle focuses on the leading-edge technologies […]

Gartner recently published their annual Hype Cycle for Frontline Worker Technology, and Augmentir was recognized as an important player and solution provider. The report covers emerging tech categories for frontline workers including Connected Factory Workers, Remote Expert Guidance solutions, and Augmented Reality.

Digital Technologies for Frontline Workers

This Hype Cycle focuses on the leading-edge technologies that are transforming the workflows in which frontline workers participate, while also improving the safety, quality, and productivity of the activities they perform.

According to the report, “The COVID-19 crisis has led organizations to ask frontline workers to work in new ways or to perform new tasks. To optimize efficiency, organizations are investing in mobile technology, including wearable technologies for frontline workers. These technologies transform the workflows in which these workers participate. Gartner predicts that up to 70% of new mobile and endpoint investments over the next five years will be for frontline workers”.

This Hype Cycle highlights several key mature and emerging technologies that are focused on helping frontline worker productivity, including the following:

  • Remote Expert Guidance Solutions: Remote expert guidance solutions provide industrial-level collaboration between subject matter experts and remote workers or customers utilizing mobile or wearable devices. Typical features include chat, live video, file sharing, and annotations, which provide visual cues that overlay the worker’s view. These tools help guide remote workers as they perform tasks, and are used across a variety of use cases – maintenance and repair procedures, remote factory acceptance tests, post-task audits, or training.
  • Connected Factory Worker: Connected factory workers use various digital tools to improve the safety, quality, and productivity of the jobs they perform. This technology helps connect workers to the “digital fabric” of the business, providing insight into the tasks they perform so that they can be optimized and continually improved on.
  • Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality (AR/MR): Connected workers use augmented and mixed reality technologies to improve and integrate their interactions with both physical and virtual surroundings. Through the use of digital work instructions, as well as augmented/mixed reality delivered through mobile and wearable devices, they are able to make faster and better decisions that optimize and improve a process or workflow that they participate in.

Augmentir’s Approach to the Connected Frontline Worker

Augmentir sits on the intersection of these innovation profiles, using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to amplify the value that digital technologies bring to the connected worker.

Augmented Work Instructions and digitized workflows help guide connected workers with visual aids while AI-driven insights provide contextual information that enable workers to perform at their best.

Remote Expert Guidance helps companies virtually connect and collaborate with their frontline workforce and their customers to provide remote guidance and support.

AI-based Operational Insights help companies identify the largest opportunities in improving the skills of the frontline workforce, and helps to drive continuous improvement throughout the organization.

At Augmentir, our AI identifies patterns and generates insights based on analyzing data from connected workers. These insights improve worker performance as well as provide positive impact on training, operational workflows, and quality. According to Gartner, “The possibility of predicting performance is extremely attractive for manufacturers. This is driving the strong interest in ML. ML is an essential enabler of artificial intelligence (AI), smart factories and intelligent automation.”

Our view at Augmentir is that the purpose of a connected worker platform isn’t simply to deliver instructions and remote support to a frontline worker, but rather to continually optimize the performance of the connected worker ecosystem. Artificial intelligence is uniquely able to address the fundamental macrotrends of skills variability and the loss of tribal knowledge in the workforce. With an ecosystem of content authors, frontline workers, subject matter experts, operations managers, continuous improvement engineers, and quality specialists, there are dozens of opportunities to improve performance.

If you’d like to see how our AI-Powered Connected Worker platform improves safety, quality, and productivity across your workforce, schedule a demo with one of our product experts.

Gartner recently published their annual Hype Cycle for Manufacturing Operations Strategy and Innovation in Manufacturing Industries. These two Hype Cycles focus on the leading-edge technologies and methodologies that will significantly change how manufacturers innovate, deliver and support products and services. Augmentir was recognized as an important player in both Hype Cycle reports. Emerging Technologies in […]

Gartner recently published their annual Hype Cycle for Manufacturing Operations Strategy and Innovation in Manufacturing Industries. These two Hype Cycles focus on the leading-edge technologies and methodologies that will significantly change how manufacturers innovate, deliver and support products and services.

Augmentir was recognized as an important player in both Hype Cycle reports.

Emerging Technologies in Manufacturing

According to the report, “manufacturers that adopt the breakthrough opportunities presented as innovation profiles on this Hype Cycle will accelerate digitalization that increases the agility and ability to innovate products and business operations”.

These Hype Cycles, which reflect the convergence of the physical and virtual worlds, present several key mature and emerging technologies, including the following:

  • Connected Worker: Connected workers use digital technologies to improve and integrate their interactions with both physical and virtual surroundings. Through the use of digital work instructions, as well as augmented/mixed reality delivered through mobile/wearable devices, they are able to make faster and better decisions that optimize and improve a process or workflow that they participate in.
  • Immersive Experiences – Manufacturing Operations: According to Gartner, immersive experiences refer to enabling the perception of being physically present in a nonphysical world or enriching people’s presence in the physical world with content from the virtual world. The report covers three kinds of immersive experiences: Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), and Virtual Reality (VR).
  • Machine Learning: Machine learning is a technical discipline that identifies patterns and generates predictions based on analyzing large sets of data. According to Gartner’s research: “In manufacturing operations, machine learning (ML) can take advantage of available data and rely on the algorithms to identify patterns and correlations. It can also use them to predict outcomes, to find the best course(s) of action and to control processes. Typical use cases include eliminating unplanned downtime and stoppages, increasing yield optimization, reducing energy usage, improving product quality or stabilizing production processes.”

Augmentir is mentioned in the context of Connected Workers and Immersive Experiences in Manufacturing Operations as software and solution provider.

Augmentir’s Approach to Connected Workers and Immersive Experiences in Manufacturing

Augmentir sits and the intersection of these innovation profiles, using artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) to amplify the value that digital technologies bring to the connected worker.

Digital Work Instructions help guide connected workers with visual aids and augmented with AI-driven insights and contextual information enable workers to perform at their best.

Integrated Remote Expert assistance helps workers resolve issues faster using insights from Augmentir’s AI and information from the guided procedure.

Augmentir’s AI uses granular data  to identify the largest opportunities in improving the skills of the frontline workforce, and helps to drive continuous improvement throughout the organization.

At Augmentir, our AI identifies patterns and generates insights based on analyzing data from connected workers. These insights improve worker performance as well as provide positive impact on training, operational workflows, and quality. According to Gartner, “The possibility of predicting performance is extremely attractive for manufacturers. This is driving the strong interest in ML. ML is an essential enabler of artificial intelligence (AI), smart factories and intelligent automation”.

Our view at Augmentir is that the purpose of a connected worker platform isn’t simply to deliver instructions and remote support to a frontline worker, but rather to optimize the performance of the connected worker ecosystem. Artificial intelligence is uniquely able to address the fundamental macrotrends of growing skills gaps and the loss of tribal knowledge. With an ecosystem of content authors, frontline workers, subject matter experts, operations managers, continuous improvement engineers, and quality specialists, there are were dozens of opportunities to improve performance.

By now, most of us have heard the phrase – “the global pandemic has changed the way we work”. This has proven to be true for all industrial companies, where the changing workplace dynamics, increased safety, and supply chain disruptions have forced companies to rethink how they support their workforce and empower them to perform […]

AR-based remote assistance for frontline workers - start your digital journey with Augmentir

By now, most of us have heard the phrase – “the global pandemic has changed the way we work”. This has proven to be true for all industrial companies, where the changing workplace dynamics, increased safety, and supply chain disruptions have forced companies to rethink how they support their workforce and empower them to perform at high levels of safety, quality, and productivity.

Many companies have shifted and adopted remote work policies to offset travel limitations and ensure safety. Despite the shift to remote work, there are still nearly 2 billion frontline or field workers in the global workforce. Most of these frontline jobs cannot be done remotely, yet these workers still need access to digital information, guidance, training, and support, which was previously given in person.

Bringing Remote Assistance Tools to the Frontline

Unfortunately, typical office videoconferencing and virtual collaboration tools (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Teams), which are designed for desktop-based knowledge workers, are not always appropriate for the workplace of the frontline – workers on factory floors or healthcare facilities, engineers on oil rigs, or field service technicians out in the field.

Industrial connected worker solutions that include augmented reality (AR) based remote assistance are uniquely suited for the operating environments that frontline workers participate in, and for the mobile and wearable devices they use. These industrial solutions combine live video streaming with augmented reality to create a powerful collaboration tool for frontline teams.

Value Across a Range of Industrial Use Cases

  • Remote Support for Direct or Dealer Field Technicians – Remote expert guidance and assistance tools now enable support for service teams, allowing technicians that are on-site to perform maintenance and repair procedures with improved safety, quality and efficiency with the help from virtual subject matter experts.
  • Remote Support for Customers –  For companies that are unable to offer on-site service technicians, remote assistance tools provide the ability for customers to be more self sufficient and provide an improved level of self-service. Remote assist tools allow customers to connect with subject matter experts to safely and efficiently perform routine service and maintenance routines.
  • Remote assistance tools are also being used for internal manufacturing collaboration, where many companies are using remote assistance tools to virtually connect frontline workers in factories with remote subject matter experts (SMEs) to improve troubleshooting and support workers during changeover, maintenance, or other operational processes.
  • Manufacturers are also extending remote assistance tools out to OEMs and 3rd party SMEs for remote equipment maintenance, virtual factory and site acceptance tests, and troubleshooting when they are unable to travel onsite.

A Digitally Connected Workforce

Now is the time to consider remote assistance and collaboration solutions, and to begin on your journey towards digitizing and connecting your frontline workforce. In addition, with integrated digital workflows, frontline workers can be guided to independently complete jobs safely and correctly. AI & Human Feedback capture tribal knowledge, while AI is used for continuous improvement efforts. These technologies are proving to be practical and effective ways to close skill gaps and transform training efforts – allowing your frontline workers to work safely and efficiently in today’s new normal.


Learn more about how connected worker solutions that include augmented reality (AR) based remote assistance are uniquely suited for the frontline workforce. Check out our comprehensive guide and checklist of requirements for evaluating and selecting augmented reality (AR) based industrial Remote Assistance solutions.

The growing skills gap in the manufacturing industry, combined with a tight labor market, is creating increased challenges for manufacturing companies of all sizes. In fact, in 2019 more than 25% manufacturers had to turn down new business opportunities due to a lack of workers, according to a report from the National Association of Manufacturers […]

The growing skills gap in the manufacturing industry, combined with a tight labor market, is creating increased challenges for manufacturing companies of all sizes. In fact, in 2019 more than 25% manufacturers had to turn down new business opportunities due to a lack of workers, according to a report from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

What’s behind this growing skills gap problem?

One key factor is the extraordinary number of retiring workers who are walking out the door with vast amounts of experience and skills. Unfortunately, for most manufacturers the knowledge possessed by this senior workforce has yet to be captured in any digital or electronic format. At the same time, a younger, more tech-savvy generation of unskilled workers is coming into the market. They may have the attitude and aptitude, but lack the skills required to effectively participate in day-to-day operations.

This lack of a skilled frontline workforce is creating an increased focus for manufacturing companies on training and up-skilling their workers. A recent article highlighted some staggering statistics on what lies ahead. According to the Manufacturing Institute: “Manufacturers are set to spend $26.2 billion on internal and external training initiatives for new and existing employees in 2020 to combat the shortage of available workers. Nearly 70% of manufacturers said they are creating or expanding training programs for their workforce. Three-quarters of respondents said upskilling workers helped to improve productivity, promotion opportunities and morale.”

Using Artificial Intelligence to Close the Skills Gap

Fortunately, manufacturers are turning to emerging digital technologies to equip and train their workforces with the tools and knowledge needed to be productive. Technologies such as mobile and wearable devices, augmented and mixed reality (AR/MR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping to connect a new generation of workers, and are allowing organizations to proactively deliver the right level of support and guidance.

One of the most notable examples of technology adoption is using artificial intelligence to augment human activity in manufacturing.

Artificial Intelligence has been branded as a threat to replace the human workforce, but some leading manufacturing companies are turning to AI as a way to help onboard and train new workers.

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being used to augment, not replace, the human workforce. AI is uniquely able to address the fundamental macrotrends of growing skills gaps and the loss of tribal knowledge.

Supported by an increased level of connected-ness of today’s frontline workers, AI systems are capable of taking in large amounts of data and finding correlations and patterns that can be used to help improve productivity, enhance skills, and provide more cost-effective, targeted training. With an ecosystem of content authors, frontline workers, subject matter experts, operations managers, continuous improvement engineers, and quality specialists, there are dozens of opportunities to address the skills gap, improve quality, and improve performance.

Using AI to Reduce Training Time

In one example, Bio-Chem Fluidics, a manufacturer of high performance pumps and valves for clinical diagnostics and analytical chemistry applications, is using AI combined with digital work instructions to improve the onboarding and training process for their new technicians and operators. One of the most significant impacts were achieved with training and onboarding new operators.

According to Bio-Chem, the company’s training time for temp workers has been reduced by over 80%.

“Augmentir has made our complex procedures very repeatable for operators of all skill levels. As a result, our training time for new operators has been reduced by over 80%. The flexibility and ease-of-use of the Augmentir platform have made it painless to implement across our company.”

Linsey Holden-Downes, Vice President of Operations at Bio-Chem

The company uses Augmentir’s AI-powered connected worker platform to digitize and standardize their work instruction library, and leverages Augmentir’s AI to deliver insights that are helping them optimize their training efforts.

After adopting Augmentir, it now takes their team lead roughly two weeks to fully train a new hire whereas prior to Augmentir, it would have taken three months of supervision. Additionally, the time spent monitoring new hires is dramatically reduced from an estimated 50% of a team lead’s time to just 10%.

Using AI to Augment Digital Work Instructions

Like Bio-Chem, many manufacturing companies rely on knowledge that is either recorded on paper or trapped in the heads of their senior workforce. With the increase in skilled technicians that are retiring, this is creating an urgency for companies to act.

STRONGARM, a Pennsylvania-based manufacturer, recently dealt with these issues. STRONGARM designs and builds ergonomic and environmentally protected workstations for companies in a wide range of markets, including food, pharmaceutical, CPG, packaging, and transportation. In recent years, the company faced growing challenges within its operation – an aging and retiring workforce, talent shortage, and increased competition – which increased pressures to produce high quality products at lower costs.

STRONGARM’s initial focus was on the assembly and final quality control processes for the company’s most complex workstation and industrial display unit. Augmentir’s rapid authoring environment allowed STRONGARM to quickly migrate their existing paper-based instructions to digital, augmented instructions that incorporated rich media, checklists, verifications, and several other features that were central to their assembly and QC processes.

According to Steve Thorne, General Manager at STRONGARM, “Augmentir’s AI-based ‘True Opportunity’ system enables us to gain insight into how our technicians are performing, and autonomously identifies our largest capturable opportunities across our entire operation.”

“When one of our senior and most experienced technicians retired recently, we were able to onboard a new technician and trust Augmentir’s AI engine to guide him during the learning curve to get product out the door at 100% quality so that we didn’t miss shipments. Once Augmentir’s AI engine determined that the worker had become proficient, it recommended that the instructions should be adjusted to enable him to complete the job faster while still meeting quality and safety goals.  This has resulted in a 20% reduction in average build time in our most complex workstations.”

Steve Thorne, General Manager, STRONGARM

The level of personalization that an AI-based system can deliver to work procedures and instructions allows companies to not only address initial skill gaps but also deliver continual improvements over time.

Intelligently supporting workers in real-time with remote experts and AI-bots

The benefits that AI can bring to industrial companies are not limited simply to standard operating procedures, work instructions, or training. Companies are also turning to AI as a way to intelligently guide and support frontline workers with real-time decision support. Connected workers are increasingly relying on “Remote Expert” capabilities to leverage the expertise of senior colleagues for on-the-job troubleshooting and problem solving. As we look ahead, AI-bots will be able to capture tribal knowledge of these subject matter experts during remote expert sessions, and intelligently guide workers that are experiencing the same situations.

Addressing the Skills Gap with Augmentir

At Augmentir, our AI identifies patterns and generates insights based on analyzing data from connected workers. These insights improve worker performance as well as provide positive impact on training, operational workflows, and quality.

Digital Work Instructions help guide connected workers with visual aids and augmented with AI-driven insights and contextual information enable workers to perform at their best.

Integrated Remote Expert assistance helps workers resolve issues faster using insights from Augmentir’s AI and information from the guided procedure.

Augmentir’s AI uses granular data  to identify the largest opportunities in improving the skills of the frontline workforce, and helps to drive continuous improvement throughout the organization.

This post by Augmentir CEO Russ Fadel was originally published on Medium. I have been a fan of Marc Andreessen since the Netscape days — he has consistently predicted the macro changes in numerous marketscapes before virtually anyone else. Recently, I was watching Marc on Youtube “Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future” and […]

Artificial Intelligene

This post by Augmentir CEO Russ Fadel was originally published on Medium.

I have been a fan of Marc Andreessen since the Netscape days — he has consistently predicted the macro changes in numerous marketscapes before virtually anyone else. Recently, I was watching Marc on Youtube “Why You Should Be Optimistic About the Future” and found his discussion on AI particularly enlightening, and in complete alignment with Augmentir’s journey. The entire video is worth watching, but the discussion on AI runs from between the 7:00 to 9:00 minute mark.

Some of the most insightful (paraphrased) quotes include:

  • “There is a more fundamental question — is AI a feature or an architecture?”
  • “A16z sees this with most start-up pitches now — ‘here are the 5 things my product does…and oh yeah, AI is always bullet number 6.’ Number 6 because it was the bullet they added after they created the deck”
  • “If AI is a feature, then this is correct, where every product will have AI sprinkled on it.”
  • “We (a16z) believe AI is an Architecture, and if it is, everything above this will need to be rewritten.”
  • “Ultimately, the goal of AI is to answer questions, even before the have been posed.”

At Augmentir we had to make a strategic decision at the time of company founding (late 2017), as to whether AI was going to be a feature of our connected worker platform or, whether it was going to be the architecture that our connected worker functionality ran on. We didn’t frame the decision as elegantly as Marc did, but we nevertheless asked, “will AI be a feature of our product or will it be pervasive?”

Even though no one in our space had chosen this path, we decided AI would be pervasive. We postulated that the purpose of a connected worker platform wasn’t to deliver instructions and remote support to a frontline worker, but rather to optimize the performance of the connected worker ecosystem. We knew that AI was uniquely able to address the fundamental macrotrends of growing skills gaps and the loss of tribal knowledge. With an ecosystem of content authors, frontline workers, subject matter experts, operations managers, continuous improvement engineers, and quality specialists, we predicted that there were dozens of opportunities to improve performance.

By building our connected worker platform on an AI architecture, all data is automatically pipelined, labelled, and cleansed, and is immediately available to start generating insights and recommendations. On this journey, the scope of what we can use AI for has even surprised us. Our initial thoughts were on personalizing instructions and content to make each frontline worker perform this current task safely and as quickly as they can, given their current proficiency. This immediately expanded to a generalized True Opportunity™ system that uses AI to stack rank where an organization has the largest capturable opportunities across all stakeholders. The range of this is astounding: which jobs have the largest monthly opportunity, which workers can benefit from targeted training, what is the optimum time to perform any given task, what inline training material can benefit from an update, what content/procedures would benefit the most from an update, etc.

The future looks even more fantastic — AI bots offer a realistic opportunity to capture tribal knowledge and convert it to a scalable corporate asset, and AI Diagnostic bots to make everyone an immediate expert.

This is only possible when you view AI as an architecture, not as a feature.