Ford dealers in the US now have access to remote display technology, enabling them to receive real-time assistance for customer repairs from the staff at the Ford Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Dearborn.
“The remote technology is designed to assist technicians as they work on vehicles with the aim of increasing efficiency and reducing customer downtime,” said David Green, a specialist in general service equipment programs at Ford. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations for the benefit of all involved.”
The two-way, hands-free electronic headset, known as See What I See (SWIS), provides both visual and audio communication between the dealers and the assistance center.
The technology uses remote assistance software, which allows the technical assistance team to see what the dealer sees as they work on the vehicle in real time. SWIS’ augmented reality capabilities allow TAC agents to display modified or enhanced images on the headset for dealer technicians to view.
According to Green, “We had a case where a technician reported that the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline via SWIS, they quickly learned that they were using the wrong tool when the tech held it in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed exactly as it should.”
At TAC’s headquarters, a team of approximately 150 technicians receives approximately 5,000 calls each week from dealers in the US seeking support or answers regarding a variety of issues. Of these, about 200 cannot be diagnosed by telephone; field agents should be sent to see the issue in person.
“SWIS certainly helps to get our customers back on the road faster. We’ve had some wiring issues that we were able to fix in hours instead of days with See What I See and that’s really valuable,” said Susan Padro, service manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka, Florida.
Ford has so far activated 1,200 of the headsets with more than 350 SWIS calls to TAC in the last 90 days. All US-based dealers should have SWIS by November.
At this point, SWIS is for diagnostic help, but designers are working on improving the headsets to add more specific use cases, such as H-VAC issues. Other uses include obtaining pre-approval before a windshield is replaced by immediately sending photos of the defect. Fleets want to use the headset to assist an on-site technician with certain electric vehicle repairs, instead dispatching a mechanic, enabling faster repairs and saving on travel costs. Mobile service teams are also looking at using SWIS to remotely check in from someone’s driveway where they are performing a service such as a tire change.
Remote training using the headset between an instructor and a student is another valuable use case to avoid having to go to a remote training center.