At 8.5 million kilometers (3,287,956 sq mi), Brazil is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. The average John Deere customer, for example, is 600 km away from John Deere's Sao Paolo headquarters – making efficient and effective remote service a must. Travel restrictions from Covid-19 have further increased the pressure.
But now a cross-functional, worldwide John Deere team is trialing a program to reduce downtime for customers no matter where they are, by delivering remote support using Smart Glasses. The project has already had firm success in Brazil: troubleshooting and carrying out a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) on an industrial engine over 900 kilometers away from the technical experts. It's one example of how John Deere is using new technologies and processes to achieve its lofty ambition to "resolve issues in one hour or less".
Bringing a close customer relationship even closer
To help pilot the Smart Glasses project, John Deere turned to customer Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN) – the largest fully integrated steel producer in Brazil and one of the largest in South America in crude steel production.
"CSN has a large fleet of 108 John Deere machines which need servicing, and its people are open to exploring new technologies with us," explains Celso de Andrade, machine support specialist at John Deere Brazil. "We are committed to ensuring a very close relationship with CSN. For example, a 15-man support team from local John Deere dealer Inova Máquinas works directly at CSN's HQ, ensuring optimal performance and productivity of their John Deere fleet."
Hands free for the job at hand
The Smart Glasses connect a service technician at the problem site with a remote expert in an interactive video conference that is started simply via an app. The on-site technician doesn't need a smartphone, tablet or laptop and has both hands free to follow the instructions from the expert step by step.
"The Smart Glasses keep us close to the customer, no matter where they are, so we can resolve their issues quickly and professionally," highlights Gabriel Manzan, territory customer support manager at John Deere Brazil. "They reduce our support process to only four steps: 1) a problem is detected in the field, 2) a request is made for a virtual call, 3) during the live conversation with John Deere Technical Assistance Center (DTAC), tests and diagnosis are carried out, and 4) the problem is identified and solved."
The Smart Glasses can also be used for maintenance and inspection. "Solutions like the Smart Glasses and JDLink (John Deere's connectivity service) give us more transparency on the performance and condition of the machines and the engines in real-time. We can catch anomalies before they become costly problems. For contractors such as CSN who own a sizable equipment fleet, this can offer huge savings on maintenance and parts and prolong the life of their fleet."
Uncovering the real issues, with Root Cause Analysis
For the Minas Gerais breakdown, two Inova technicians reported the incident to the DTAC, and then traveled to the site, bringing the Smart Glasses with them. As it quickly became clear it concerned an engine problem, they removed the 9.0L industrial engine from the excavator in the CSN workshop, and DTAC set up a video call.
While John Deere Brazil is focused on construction and forestry equipment, the Smart Glasses technology enabled them to easily bring in technical expert Matias Armentano from the John Deere Power Systems factory in Argentina to collaborate. One of the Inova technicians wore the Smart Glasses, enabling all other experts to ‘look over his shoulder'.
As local Inova Service Manager, Thiago Angelo, disassembled the engine, everyone had the opportunity to review the engine from all angles, in a real-time discussion. The team detected mechanical damage in the cylinder piston.
"We could see cavitation, and erosion on the exterior wall of the 6th cylinder liner," says Armentano. Within just 3 hours from disassembly of the industrial engine in the Inova workshop, the root cause was identified. Next, the engine was repaired as part of CSN's service contract.
One Deere: working together for optimal customer support
CSN will be seeing the benefits of the smart technology a lot more in the future. John Deere Brazil trained both Inova and CSN technicians to use the Smart Glasses during a 90-day project that included dealer training, analysis, customer training and certification. With the successful program, CSN technicians will have more transparency and control of the condition of their John Deere equipment so they can keep operations moving.
"During the pilot we've used the Smart Glasses on multiple occasions," says Luís Cristóvão Mól Alves, development engineer at CSN. "In addition to the RCA of the 350G [excavator] engine we've also used it to analyze an issue with the 620G [motor grader] hydraulic system. Because of the swift communication between CSN, Inova and John Deere our productivity didn't suffer. On both occasions, John Deere was able to follow the entire process (engine disassembly and field diagnosis) in real time while 600 kilometers away from the site. This allowed them to make quick decisions. Also, the Smart Glasses enable John Deere specialists to train our people on the job remotely. This is extremely valuable for us!"
CSN isn't the only one to enjoy the benefits of the Smart Glasses technology: following the success of the CSN project, John Deere Brazil has already completed a second trial with dealer Veneza Equipamentos from Indaiatuba City, São Paulo, Brazil.
"The close collaboration between different John Deere divisions and exchange of customer and market insights gives us the background and expertise we need to come up with the best solutions for our customers," explains Manzan. "For example, integrating Smart Glasses into product support strategy will save both us and our customers time, effort, and resources. These innovative approaches will help us fulfill our commitment to delivering the best possible customer support."
The project with CSN was a pilot project. The 3D smart glasses are not available to John Deere dealers at this moment.
John Deere Brazil in Indaiatuba, is responsible for the sales and aftermarket-sales support of John Deere construction and forestry equipment in Latin America.
Inova Máquinas, based in Cincao, Contagem, was John Deere’s first construction and mining equipment distributor in Brazil. Inova distributes the complete John Deere portfolio, servicing mining, construction, agricultural, and forestry markets.
John Deere Power Systems is based in Rosario, Argentina. The factory in Santa Fe produces 2.9L, 4.5L, 6.8L and 9.0L industrial engines.
The close collaboration between different John Deere divisions and exchange of customer and market insights gives us the background and expertise we need to come up with the best solutions for our customers