At recent virtual events, we have talked about the need to build resilience into every layer of the business—empowering people with technology to innovate and adapt to constant, often unpredictable change. This week, during a Q&A session at Interop Digital 2020, I was asked for real-world examples of resilience-building in action.
Mercedes-Benz was top of mind, an automotive leader using mixed reality to realign how technicians service vehicles in a world of social distancing and complex automobile engineering. It’s a great example of how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can accelerate time to value with intelligent digital solutions, like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, that empowers people to connect, collaborate, and get the job done with incredible efficiency.
For 94 years, Mercedes-Benz has been on the forefront of precisely engineered luxury automobiles, today manufactured in 17 countries on five continents, and distributed all over the world. They have introduced many of the automotive technologies we see today, including crumple-free zones, the airbag, and over the past decade embraced digital technology to improve the driving experience.
All that technology has led to great driving experiences; however, it has also increased the complexity of maintenance. In fact, the average vehicle features more than 100 million lines of software code—more than the Space Shuttle, an F-35 fighter jet, and a pacemaker combined.
Coupled with social distancing requirements at dealer service centers, Mercedes-Benz needed to quickly help technicians master complex maintenance procedures, while eliminating travel and onsite visits to dealer service centers. The solution: Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support, the first ever mixed reality automotive maintenance support system.
Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support in action
Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support is a paradigm shift in maintenance support for Mercedes-Benz and the entire automotive industry. Created in collaboration with Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz USA is solving both the immediate need to support a remote work environment while setting the stage for the future by increasing the productivity and efficiency of dealer technicians.
When an onsite technician needs guidance from experts, such as making decisions about a body repair or a complex diagnostic plan, he or she dons a Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset that runs Dynamics 365 Remote Assist. The onsite technician connects to a remote Mercedes-Benz specialist, who joins the mixed reality call on Microsoft Teams desktop and sees what the technician sees thanks to the headset’s camera, capable of capturing 8 megapixel stills and 1080p30 video.
While collaborating to troubleshoot a case, the remote specialist can draw attention to a specific part or area by drawing an arrow, line, or shape on the PC screen, which is overlayed on the technician’s headset and anchored in place as the technician moves around. The specialist can also share a schematic, document, or even a training video to instruct the technician. For complex issues, multiple remote specialists can also be added to the same call.
Edgar Campana, a Centralized Diagnostics Technician at Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables, shared the collaborative and mobile mixed reality environment is a game-changer.
“Sometimes it’ll take a while to go back and forth between a case because I can’t make it to my computer or they’re busy with other cases,” explains Edgar. “I can just put it on, get immediate support. They can literally point things out to me as I’m looking at it. They can circle it, they can draw lines. It’s hands-on, it’s literally right there. I can be talking with him going through the vehicle in real time. It’s very intuitive.”
See it in action: watch how Mercedes-Benz transforms technician support with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and HoloLens 2.
From pilot program to nationwide deployment
Thanks in part to the out-of-the-box capabilities of HoloLens 2 and Dynamics 365 Remote Assist, Mercedes-Benz was able to accelerate the national deployment of the solution in just six months—especially beneficial in the time of COVID-19 as dealerships adjusted to social distancing restrictions. Thirteen dealerships piloted the program between January and March 2020, and Mercedes-Benz Virtual Remote Support officially launched across the Mercedes-Benz USA dealer network in August 2020.
What I find so compelling about this program is the far-reaching benefits for both employees, customers, and even society. Mercedes-Benz is demonstrating what’s possible when teams are empowered with practical ways to solve challenges. Resilience, adaptability, and innovation in action.
Now, technicians can resolve issues collaboratively without stepping away from the work site—promising a boost in productivity and efficiency. That results in faster turnaround times for maintenance issues, which leads to increased customer satisfaction. By supporting a remote work environment, the system ensures employee safety in times of COVID-19, while reducing the environmental impact of service-related travel.
Read additional details about how Mercedes-Benz is transforming technician support with Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and HoloLens 2. As we continue working with organizations to build resiliency and adapt to change, we’ll continue to share more stories on our blog.