18 Sep 2020

How To Respond Even Faster to Utility Outages

Aggreko generators

What slows down your technicians when they’re responding to an outage or damage report? What kinds of information do you wish they could have to hand in the blink of an eye?

Conveying complete, relevant, real-time data is a major challenge when part of your team is out in the field. So is getting hold of exactly the information or support you want, no matter what the nature of the problem.

This is why new developments in Augmented Reality (AR) are so exciting for the utilities sector. In this blog post, we’ll explain how this works and why it’s making such a difference to response and maintenance times.

AR and Real-Time Data Explained

Simply put, AR is a way of adding information to, or enhancing in some way, what you can see in front of you.

That can work in one of two ways. Either an app, sensor or other type of technology can ‘read’ what’s there and call up relevant data to explain what you’re looking at or guide you in some way. 

Or, more intriguingly, the device overlay the text, images, video or other type of media over your view, so that you see the ‘real’ scene and the additional content at the same time. 

When we say device, that could mean anything from a humble smartphone or tablet to a specially designed headset, depending on what you’re trying to achieve.

Getting the Lowdown on Equipment

Here’s where this gets interesting for the utilities sector.

Imagine your technician gets an outage notification and dashes out to the site to start on repairs. The problem is, they’re not entirely familiar with the specific component or item that’s damaged and needs replacing.

Rather than waste time calling back and forth to the head office to track down the details, the technician can simply view the damaged equipment through their AR tool. The software then recognizes the asset type and calls up all the information the technician needs: the product number, ordering information and relevant maintenance history. 

In just a few clicks, the technician can place the order and organize a repairs team familiar with the part. 

Remote Support in the Field

Now imagine that the part doesn’t need to be replaced, but fixed. Your technician recognizes what they’re looking at but not how to repair it.

Instead of waiting for a maintenance crew trained for this particular task to become available, your technician simply puts on their AR-enabled headset and calls a colleague with experience in this area. This person can view what their colleague sees, quickly annotate it with instructions, or otherwise guide them through the process to help them fix it on their own. 

Final Thoughts

With new technologies like AR, your maintenance and repairs teams can respond faster to problems, slash the time the need for repairs and get invaluable in-the-field support to reduce the chance of mistakes. 

All of this will help you reduce downtime - but other factors can cause delays too. Just make sure you always have a backup plan in place to ensure uninterrupted productivity, whatever the situation throws at you.