While the original pilot tracked user data to get percentage improvements from implementing AR technology, it soon became clear that each team had its own way of documenting sites that made the most sense for the situation, the AR user and the client. As such, it was difficult to create a baseline measurement to compare against.
It was determined that the best way to track pilot results was to interview each AR field user and detect where value-adds were common across all teams and clients.
VALUE-ADDS IDENTIFIED FROM PILOT
Several key benefits were identified during the pilot review with AR field users.
Office-to-Field Video Communication: By far, the O2F video communication use case was considered the biggest benefit of the pilot. O2F saved field trips and time in almost every instance. O2F allowed experienced team members to have a virtual presence on-site that would have otherwise been absent.
For example, when a question came up in the field that required particular knowledge, O2F enabled a subject matter expert to join the site visit. Normally, specialists would need to find a gap in the schedule and fly to the site to discuss options. O2F required only a one-hour gap in an specialist’s schedule to join the conversation, add value and help resolve an issue.
O2F also increased confidence in the field. Field staff concerns about issues were greatly reduced by the ability to talk directly to the office and communicate as if in person. While this aspect was not utilized during the pilot, O2F would allow less experienced personnel to be on-site virtually as an opportunity for training, picking up industry knowledge and gaining valuable in-field experience.
Geographic Information System (GIS) Platform: Being able to use the GIS with the workflow for asset inspection created tangible value for site visits. Field users found that the AR beacons and workflows resulted in higher-quality site inspections and, because data was automatically categorized, reduced the amount of time needed for data organizing.
The GIS platform enabled less experienced personnel to perform the same inspections as more experienced site workers. Teams also were able to create standardized workflows for each client, which saved time, added consistency and reduced the risk of error. It is anticipated that the number of site revisits to document a forgotten asset or device would be decreased with the GIS feature.
Unknown Asset Documentation: Many utility distribution systems have been repaired multiple times following weather-related incidents. As a result, much of the distribution system documentation is outdated. The ability to document unknown assets in the field, with data being logged on-site using AR technology, was a huge success.
Typically, a data gathering and organizing trip takes one or two field inspectors an average of 10 minutes per asset to document. Using the AR pilot technology, the time to locate, photograph and document an unknown asset was reduced to less than two minutes per asset on average.