The tech press has already been circulating rumors of the release of Apple’s first wearable device this week – Apple Watch is supposed to be available in stores as from April. While tech fans cannot wait to play around with the wrist computer, Apple watch could be especially useful to field service technicians in the machine industry. Here is a list of the features that could dramatically increase efficiency and facilitate field engineers’ lives.
1. Swipe to See Directions and Traffic Updates
The greatest advantage of a smart watch is the fact that workers in the field have their hands free, while still having access to their field service application. The Apple Watch for example ends its sleep mode by raising your wrist. A great function is “Glances”, which allows you to access information that you use most frequently. An engineer can for example swipe the smart watch to see the next appointment, the current location, directions to the next customer and what the traffic is like. This helps to be on time and probably feels like you are James Bond.
2. Take a Call Without Interrupting Service
You can also configure your smartphone with the Apple Watch in order to receive real-time updates, calls, emails and messages. The voice function is useful, if a field service engineer is currently using his hands to repair a machine, but still needs to open a checklist to see the next steps or check inventory. Sometimes a call from the back-office can’t be dismissed – with a smart watch this call can easily be taken by the engineer without having to interrupt work.
3. Get Alerted to Go to Next Customer
Another interesting feature of Apple Watch is “Taptic Engine”. It is a way of discretely receiving an alert: the smart watch basically tips you on the wrist in order to let you know that you need to go to your next customer. This is a great way for field service technicians to avoid unnecessary stress. Since it is more discrete than a ringing phone, it doesn’t alert the current customer on whether sufficient time has been dedicated to him.
4. Save Battery Life Between Service Jobs
According to the New York Times Apple Watch is very energy efficient, which means that all apps are in sleeping mode unless they are actually used. However, battery life could still present a major challenge for field service technicians. Some service jobs will take hours to be completed. This means that utilization depends on whether Apple will make sure battery life lasts long enough and can easily be charged in between service jobs.
5. Quickly React to Emergencies
Field service technicians need to be able to quickly react to emergencies, unscheduled events or delays, report to the back-office and notify customers. With the quick voice command Apple Watch can be useful to accelerate reaction time of field employees.
6. Improve Work Safety for Field Service Employees
In addition such smart watches can improve safety for workers in dangerous or remote locations and can indeed be a life-saver when locating employees in case of an emergency.
Wearable devices will remain a companion to mobile phones and tablets at least through 2017 as Gartner predicts. If there is a report to be filled in or lengthier checklists need to be retrieved, field service engineers will still need to use their tablets or laptops. The success of smart devices in field service will of course also depend on the applications provided by mobile cloud-based companies and their compatibility with such devices.