An article on Automation World tells us how Smart connected products, combined with Augmented and Virtual Reality tools, are transforming how the company, Caterpillar, services equipment and interacts with customers.
The article talks us through its customer service offerings in the areas of the three industries it serves —resource industries (mining), construction, and energy/transportation (power/compulsion systems for marine, oil & gas, turbines and locomotives).
Today, service is evolving again, as it is done remotely using telematics devices that can do onboard diagnostics and send alerts and diagnostic codes back to the equipment experts. In addition, Caterpillar is now moving into the next layer of technology in the service domain which includes the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), as well as Augmented and Virtual Reality.
The company’s modern technology mission: “To be cheaper, smarter and faster,” said Terri Lewis, digital and technology director at Caterpillar, during her keynote presentation at the Automation Conference & Expo.
In fact, the Caterpillar IIoT initiative was launched as a vision in the 1990s with a goal of leveraging the Internet for service. Today, the company has 186 dealers and about 500,000 connected assets around the world upon which service technicians can conduct an inspection simply by sending photos for analysis via a smartphone.
“We have entire mine sites connected and interacting to make split-second decisions,” Lewis said. “Now we want to connect people and products.”
In the not-too-distant future—about three years—Caterpillar will be using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for sales, operations and service applications, Lewis said.
The article concludes with a mention by Lewis of the AR lessons learned: the use of the new technology means that challenges have been overcome.