Frank Baldrighi, business development manager, Australia and New Zealand at Getac talks about how augmented reality and artificial intelligence are driving change for vehicle repair, which also changes vehicle component requirements

Electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies are gaining traction and becoming increasingly common. As vehicles become more technologically advanced and digitally connected, they are transforming the automotive industry, making modern vehicle repair more complex. This is especially true in the industrial sector, where vehicles have grown increasingly intricate, integrating sensors, automation, and digital interfaces.

Many Australian repair shops are now confronted with changing demands that extend beyond their traditional expertise. Technicians are required to handle software diagnostics, electronic calibrations, and intricate digital networks alongside traditional mechanical repairs. A malfunction or breakdown in an industrial setting doesn’t just mean a repair cost. Instead, it can lead to significant operational downtimes, jeopardising projects and impacting bottom lines.

The rapid pace of the industrial sector doesn’t leave room for prolonged equipment downtime. Stakeholders, from operators to investors, demand quick turnarounds, minimal disruptions, and a guarantee that machinery will operate at peak efficiency.

To meet these stringent demands and keep pace with the industry, repair and maintenance processes must undergo a transformative upgrade. Augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions have emerged as essential tools to help repair shops stay relevant and empower repairers to seamlessly adapt to new vehicle technologies and remain in demand.

There are two key ways AR and AI can empower repairers in the modern operating environment:

  1. Virtual diagnostics

At its core, AR technology merges the physical and digital worlds. This lets automotive repairers run remote diagnostics without having the vehicle physically present. This is critical to help industrial operators maintain efficiency even in the event of a breakdown or incident. A vehicle located in a remote operating environment hundreds of kilometres away could connect with a repair shop, giving technicians access to a real-time visual feed of the vehicle’s internal systems. This eliminates the need for long drives and delays for a preliminary diagnosis which adds a layer of convenience for customers and streamlines the repairer’s operations.

Additionally, AR lets technicians tap into remote expert support whenever needed for more complicated repair and maintenance tasks. If a technician on-site faces a challenging repair issue, they can instantly connect with a specialist. Through AR, the expert can view the problem, provide guidance, and even overlay instructions onto the technician’s display if they are using wearable devices like smart glasses.

Field technicians can also use AR and AI tools to access a virtual library of repair manuals, schematics, and expert systems powered by AI. This on-the-go knowledge repository ensures that they can tackle a wide variety of challenges without the need for back-and-forth trips to vehicles or customers. Bolstered by real-time AR support, even complex tasks like recalibrating advanced sensor systems or troubleshooting hybrid vehicle circuits become more accessible. For example, technicians can overlay digital schematics onto vehicles to ensure precision in every step.

AI and AR solutions don’t just benefit technicians in the field, either. With AR, training modules can become immersive experiences, empowering technicians to practice repair scenarios in a virtual environment, letting them learn and make errors without any real-world consequences. AI can be used to customise training modules based on the technician’s proficiency, ensuring a tailored learning experience.

  1. Data-driven insights

AI-driven platforms can aggregate data from multiple repairs to identify patterns and offer insights. These can range from predicting common vehicle issues based on make and model to optimising inventory levels based on repair trends. Additionally, it can help determine the recyclability of old vehicle parts, promoting more sustainable practices in the industry and reducing waste by identifying which parts can be refurbished or recycled. Such comprehensive data access ensures that the root cause of any issue is quickly identified and addressed, reducing the likelihood of repeat visits. For example, technicians can use data repositories to instantly access vehicle histories, cross-referencing previous issues with current diagnostics. The analysis of local and global trends can also aid in identifying flaws or areas for improvement, creating a feedback loop that can lead to better vehicle designs in the future.

Repairers can also use data to boost their offerings to customers, moving from a solely reactive approach to a proactive one. For optimal service, repairers can use AI to analyse vehicle data and predict potential issues before they become critical problems, including analysing vast amounts of data from vehicles to predict when parts are likely to fail, and informing vehicle operators of impending concerns or risks. This lets repairers schedule maintenance sessions in advance to ensure vehicles remain in peak condition and reduce the potential for more costly future repairs. It also means parts can be ordered and replaced proactively, reducing the downtime of vehicles and ensuring that repair shops stock the necessary parts in advance and have the right parts available when needed, reducing wait times for repairs. AI and AR can also be used to effectively integrate operators and repairers more closely with parts suppliers so that, when a part is needed, the best supplier can automatically be identified based on part availability in real-time. The use of AI-powered platforms can also be used for more efficient part-routing and process optimisation for transformation at every touchpoint.

A future rooted in AI and AR-powered repair solutions

Differentiation has never been more critical for a crowded market, and it’s clear that repairers armed with AR and AI will be better equipped to handle future challenges by reducing errors, optimising costs, and improving the quality and timeliness of services.

As these technologies mature and businesses fully realise their full potential, the horizon of opportunities will only expand. By staying innovative and open to change, repairers can redefine their trajectories to ensure relevance, growth, and sustainability in an ever-evolving landscape.