Remote Access Technology Gives Ford Dealerships Repair Assistance
Ford dealerships are beginning to gain access to a new state-of-the-art remote viewing technology called See What I See, or SWIS. This two-way, hands-free electronic headset allows dealership technicians to communicate with team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Dearborn, using video and audio to discuss repairs and work more efficiently.
The new SWIS technology uses remote assistance software to let the technical assistance team in Dearborn look at exactly what the dealership tech is seeing in real time as they work on the vehicle. It also uses a type of augmented reality technology so that TAC team members can display modified or enhanced images on the headset, providing useful input for the dealership technicians who are actually working on the repair.
“The remote technology is designed to assist the technicians as they’re working on vehicles – with the goal of increasing efficiency and decreasing down time for customers,” says David Green, Ford General Service Equipment Program Specialist. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations, benefiting everyone involved.”
“We had one case where a technician reported the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors,” Green continues. “When the tech contacted the Hotline using SWIS, they quickly found out they were using the wrong tool when the tech held it up in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed just the way it should.”
Currently, the TAC headquarters in Dearborn receives about 5,000 calls per week from dealership technicians around the country. These calls are handled by a team of only about 150 people. An estimated 200 of the problems that dealership technicians are seeking support for simply cannot be diagnosed over the phone. The solution used to be to send field agents out in person to assess the issue and provide assistance. This takes considerable time and effort, and results in drivers having to wait much longer to get their vehicles fixed. The introduction of SWIS technology can speed up that turnover and get customers back on the road in much less time.
About 1200 SWIS headsets are currently activated and in use so far, and the TAC team has taken over 350 SWIS calls in the last 90 days. By current estimates, all US-based Ford dealers will have SWIS technology ready to use for diagnostic assistance by November of 2022. Designers are also working on enhancing the headsets to broaden the scope of specialized uses they can apply to, such as H-VAC concerns, or gaining approval before replacing a windshield.
“SWIS definitely helps get our customers back on the road more quickly. We’ve had some wiring situations that we were able to fix in a few hours versus a few days using See What I See and that’s really valuable,” says Susan Padro, Service Manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka Florida.