New headsets from Ford allow dealership technicians to stream live to team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center in Dearborn for customer repairs. // Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford dealers now get real-time repair assistance via electronic headsets

New Ford headsets allow dealer technicians to stream live to team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center in Dearborn for customer repairs.  // Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.
New Ford headsets allow dealer technicians to stream live to team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center in Dearborn for assistance with customer repairs. // Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn announced that its dealers across the country now have access to state-of-the-art remote display technology, enabling them to receive real-time customer repair assistance 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), provides both visual and audio communication between dealer technicians and team members in the Technical Assistance Center.

“The remote technology is designed to assist technicians as they work on vehicles – with the aim of increasing efficiency and reducing customer downtime,” said David Green, a specialist in general service equipment programs at Ford. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations for the benefit of all involved.”

The technology uses remote assistance software that allows the technical assistance team to see what the dealers see as they work on the vehicle in real time. SWIS’ augmented reality capabilities allow TAC team members to display modified or enhanced images on the headset for dealer technicians to view.

According to Green, “We had a case where a technician reported that the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline via SWIS, they quickly learned they were using the wrong tool when they got it. in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed exactly as it should.”

At TAC’s headquarters, a team of approximately 150 technicians receives approximately 5,000 calls each week from dealers in the US seeking support or answers regarding a variety of issues. Of these, about 200 cannot be diagnosed by telephone; field agents should be sent to see the issue in person.

“SWIS certainly helps to get our customers back on the road faster. We’ve had some wiring situations that we were able to fix in hours instead of days with See What I See and that’s really valuable,” said Susan Padro, service manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka, Fla.

Ford has so far activated 1,200 of the headsets 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 this year.

At this point, SWIS is for diagnostic help, but designers are working on improving the headsets to add more specific use cases, such as H-VAC issues. Other uses include obtaining pre-approval before a windshield is replaced by immediately sending photos of the defect.

Fleets will want to use the headset to assist an on-site technician with certain electric vehicle repairs rather than dispatch a mechanic, allowing for faster repairs and savings on travel costs. Mobile service teams are also looking at using SWIS to remotely log in from someone’s driveway where they perform a service such as changing tires.

Remote training using the headset between an instructor and a student is another valuable use case to avoid having to go to a remote training center.

In related news, Ford has announced that it will be the 75e anniversary of the 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 in the classic style.

Available on XLT Series F-150 trucks, the design represents a fresh interpretation of the classic ABA exterior paint pattern, with an A shade encompassing the roof and stiles, a B shade for the center section and then a repeat of A on bumpers, lower door and lower body.

Interior offers in slate gray and black complement the expressive exteriors. Striking seat covers with unique inserts, plus relief on the console lid further enhance the uniqueness of the Heritage design. A white ’75 Years’ logo appears in the top center windshield and is incorporated into the start-up animation on the center screen and center console.

Five color options are available:

  • Race Red center section, with top and bottom charred gray
  • Atlas blue center section, with top and bottom agate black
  • Anti-matter blue center section, with upper and lower charred gray
  • Avalanche belly, with upper and lower Agate Black
  • Area 51 midsection, with top and bottom agate black

Pricing will be available when orders for the 2023 F-150 Heritage Edition open in mid-July, with production to start this fall.