Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn has announced that its dealerships across the country now have access to state-of-the-art remote viewing technology allowing them to receive real-time assistance for customer repairs from team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Dearborn.
The two-way, hands-free electronic headset, known as See What I See (SWIS), allows for both visual and audio communication between the dealership technicians and team members at the Technical Assistance Center.
“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, general service equipment program specialist at Ford. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations, benefiting everyone involved.”
The technology uses remote assistance software that allows the technical assistance team to see what the dealership techs are seeing while they work on the vehicle in real time. SWIS’s augmented reality capability allows TAC team members to display modified or enhanced images on the headset for the dealer technicians to view.
According to Green, “We had one case where a technician reported the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline using SWIS, they quickly found out they were using the wrong tool when they tech held it up in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed just the way it should.”
At the TAC headquarters, a team of about 150 technicians receives about 5,000 calls from dealership technicians across the U.S. each week looking for support or answers regarding a variety of issues. Of those, about 200 cannot be diagnosed by phone; field agents must be sent out to check out the issue in person.
“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, Fla.
Ford has activated 1,200 of the headsets so far with more than 350 SWIS calls to TAC in the last 90 days. All US-based dealers should have SWIS in their toolbox by November of this year.
Currently, SWIS is for diagnostic assistance, but designers are working to enhance the headsets to add more specific use cases such as H-VAC concerns. Other uses cases include gaining prior approval before replacing a windshield by sending pictures of the defect instantly.
Fleets are looking to leverage the headset to assist a technician on site with certain electric vehicle repairs instead sending an engineer allowing for faster repairs and savings on travel costs. Mobile service teams are also looking at using SWIS to remote in from someone’s driveway where they are performing a service like tire changes.
Training remotely using the headset between an instructor and a student is another valuable use case to avoid having to attend a distant training center.
In related news, Ford has announced that it will celebrate the 75th anniversary of F-Series trucks with the introduction of the 2023 F-150 Heritage Edition — a modern take on the 1970s and ’80s two-tone exterior paint offerings featuring the classic style.
Available on XLT series F-150 trucks, the design will represent a fresh interpretation of the classic A-B-A exterior paint pattern, with an A color encompassing roof and pillars, a B color for the midsection, then A repeating on bumpers, lower door and lower body.
Interior offerings in slate gray and black complement the expressive exteriors. Distinct seat trim covers featuring unique inserts, plus embossing on the console lid further enhance the uniqueness of the Heritage design. A white “75 Years” logo appears in the upper center windshield and is included in the center screen startup animation and on the center console.
Five color options are available:
- Race Red midsection, with upper and lower Carbonized Gray
- Atlas Blue midsection, with upper and lower Agate Black
- Antimatter Blue midsection, with upper and lower Carbonized Gray
- Avalanche midsection, with upper and lower Agate Black
- Area 51 midsection, with upper and lower Agate Black
Pricing will be available when order banks for the 2023 F-150 Heritage Edition open in mid-July, with production starting this fall.