Ford is now outfitting its dealerships across the country with a tool that will help speed up repairs. It's not your typical tool however - this is a state-of-the-art headset with remote viewing technology. It allows Ford technicians to receive real-time assistance for customer repairs from team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Dearborn.
“The remote technology is designed to assist the technicians as they’re working on vehicles – with the goal of increasing efficiency and decreasing down time for customers,” says David Green, Ford General Service Equipment Program Specialist. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations, benefiting everyone involved.”
The two-way, hands-free electronic headset, known as See What I See (SWIS), allows both visual and audio communication between dealership techs and team members at the TAC.
It's equipped with remote assistance software, so the technical assistance team in Michigan can see what the dealership tech is seeing while they work on the vehicle, and it's al in real time. SWIS’s augmented reality capability allows TAC team members to display modified or enhanced images on the headset for the dealer technicians to view.
“We had one case where a technician reported the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline using SWIS, they quickly found out they were using the wrong tool when they tech held it up in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed just the way it should, " said Green.
Ford says its team of about 150 techs at TAC headquarters fields about 5,000 calls from U.S. dealership service techs each week. Calls are about a variety of issues. Ford says of those, about 200 cannot be diagnosed by phone so field agents are sent out to check out the issue in person.
“SWIS definitely helps get our customers back on the road more quickly. We’ve had some wiring situations that we were able to fix in a few hours versus a few days using See What I See and that’s really valuable,” says Susan Padro, Service Manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka Florida.
Ford says it's activated 1200 of the headsets so far, with more than 350 SWIS calls to TAC in the last 90 days. All US-based dealers should have SWIS in their toolbox by November of this year.
Right now, SWIS is for diagnostic assistance, but designers are working to enhance the headsets to add more specific use cases such as H-VAC concerns. Other examples of how it could be used include gaining prior approval before replacing a windshield by sending pictures of the defect instantly. Ford says fleets are also looking to use the headset to assist a technician on site with certain electric vehicle repairs instead sending an engineer - resulting in faster repairs and reducing travel costs. This could have mobile service applications as well. Ford says mobile service teams are looking into using SWIS to remote in from someone’s driveway where they are performing a service like tire changes. The headset could also be used in remote training between an instructor and student.
Photo Credit: Ford.