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Konica Minolta – The AIRe Link story

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Learn how Konica Minolta (KM) Europe, an organization awarded for excellence in service and support, digitally transformed its service by using the latest AR-enabled visual support technology to remotely guide field engineers, partners, and customers. Find out, what tools and approaches they tested in addition to what obstacles they needed to overcome to achieve the higher visit avoidance, improved first-time fix, and more satisfied customers.

Discover how your organization can apply the same approach quickly and efficiently to stay competitive in the ever-changing world.

Who are Konica Minolta?

Konica Minolta is a global digital workplace solution provider that has received awards for excellence in serviceability and support from Keypoint Intelligence. As work has become increasingly digitized, the concept of a workplace and more importantly an office have evolved. Konica Minolta’s portfolio of workplace solutions can be used to drive change in the workplace, enabling businesses to thrive in a new digital era.

“As partners to our customers, our role is to help them to implement digital transformation solutions, enabling them to work towards, and realize the benefits of, an Intelligent Connected Workplace.” – Konica Minolta

Konica Minolta Europe has 30 local complex service organization structures within 30 countries supporting hundreds of thousands of devices spread across the whole of Europe. For its innovative service approach that complements its devices perfectly, Konica Minolta was awarded the prestigious ‘Buyers Lab PaceSetter Award for Serviceability and Support 2020/2021’ from Keypoint Intelligence.

‘Remote by default’ has been the strategy at Konica Minolta with the aim to resolve as many issues as possible remotely, which is reflected in their service management toolbox. The toolbox includes various tools for remote issue resolution including KM’s Remote Service Platform, Customer Satisfaction Remote Care (CSRC), Remote Deployment Tool (RDT), TeamViewer, e-mails, phone calls, and more.

Why did Konica Minolta develop AIRe Link?

An AR-enabled visual support tool was missing from the toolbox which was needed for KM to see customer and field engineer issues from the client-side to guide them remotely in the process of diagnoses or fixing the problem. KM tested several available solutions on the market but didn’t find any that would fulfil all key requirements – “zero-effort” connectivity (no-app installation and no registration needed), ease of use, integration into existing Remote Support strategies, budget-friendly pricing, and GDPR compliance.

By coincidence, Konica Minolta Business Innovation Centre was developing a smart glasses solution called AIRe Lens, for industrial usage at the time, in collaboration with manufacturing customers like Siemens or service organizations like AZ Klima.

The pilot projects proved the advantages of AR-enabled visual support but also showed the limitations of a smart glasses approach in service. It mainly indicated that most customers would prefer to start the AR-enabled visual support experience using the current smartphone-based infrastructure before heavily investing in a smart glasses-based solution.

Through smartphone-based AR-enabled visual support, clients can identify the right user, use cases, benefits, and organizational setups. They can also understand which users and use cases really require hands-free operations, precisely calculate the ROI based on collected data and assure the high acceptance of the remote work concept before investing in smart glasses hardware.

Konica Minolta’s AIRe Link was designed in close collaboration with experts from KM’s Service and Support departments and also input from external customers. The solution runs on any smartphone or tablet and requires no-app installation or user registration from the end-user side allowing for any customer or field engineer to be supported instantly. All the end-user needs to do is to click an invitation link received via SMS or e-mail.

Why should I use AIRe Link?

AIRe Link was successfully tested in 2020 and released to production in 2021. It complements the other tools within the Konica Minolta service toolbox and enables clients to resolve technical issues remotely. It represents a professional, secure, and GDPR-compliant solution for a professional service team.

“AIRe Link is the perfect supplement to our service management toolbox. It enables us to increase the uptime of customers’ infrastructure while optimising our processes. We are also using this tool to increase the knowledge transfer between our service task forces.” – Gerald Pomper, Head of Service and Support Konica Minolta Business Solutions Germany

AR-enabled visual support technology represents a major shift in the field service industry, as it directly involves customers within the service process. In the old paradigm, the issues are fixed by the vendor, as a result, the customer is not involved. AIRe Link is using the eyes of customer smartphones with Internet connectivity and their hands to investigate or even fix the problem remotely. While the motivation for a service organization using AIRe Link is mainly cost saving along with improved efficiency, for customers it’s faster problem resolution and higher uptime of their vital machine.

Customer example of AIRe Link’s advantages

Gurney Ghathory, Rayprograghics Ltd United Kingdom – “After reporting an issue on the Konica Minolta Production Print device, I was asked to use AIRe Link to show sample prints to the Konica Minolta technician. He guided me through some troubleshooting procedures and was able to diagnose a part which needed replacement. As the fault diagnosis was already carried out remotely and the technician already knew exactly which spare part was required, my machine could be fixed directly on the first visit. AIRe Link was incredibly quick and easy to use.”

Another way of using AR-enabled visual support technology is to support field engineers who are already on the customer site, they might get stuck and can request remote visual support from their off-site colleagues.

Is AIRe Link for me?

AIRe Link is now further developed and managed within the Konica Minolta Intelligent Connected Workplace (ICW) to support both internal users and external customers. In 2021, the Konica Minolta ICW department supported the implementation of AIRe Link in 30 Konica Minolta service teams across Europe, US and India.

Konica Minolta also offers AIRe Link to any external customer, mainly aimed at manufacturing companies with field service or a network of service partners. The solution receives very positive feedback and proves the benefits for both service organizations and their end-users.

“AIRe Link is now available in all European countries, and we have already recorded over 14,000 remote service sessions from around 2,600 users in the last twelve months. We hope that AIRe Link will continue to be so positively received by our customers. A nice side effect is the environmental aspect. AIRe Link has already eliminated the need for more than 853,000 kilometres of travels to customers, which means that around 104 tons of CO2 emissions have not been produced.” – André Ziemann, Head of Service & Support, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe

Free AIRe Link trial and demo

Any customer signing up for AIRe Link trial will receive professional guidance in the form of automated emails outlining the best practices to follow for successful implementation in your organization. For small, midsized, and large organizations with service teams of all sizes. Konica Minolta ICW offers a professional consultancy for fast and efficient implementation, helping service companies simplify a complex topic. 

Not only is a trial available, customer with additional queries can request a free demo meeting. During which a Konica Minolta representative will guide you through the AIRe Link tool explaining the functions ready to answer questions you may have. Request a demo today!

AIRe Link customer reviews

See what field service customers have to say about AIRe Link and AR-Based visual support tools!

Heiko Garrelts, Head of After Sales, Nerak GmbH Fördertechnik – “Using AIRe Link, we offer our international customers fast and professional remote support without the need for service technicians to be on site.”

David Burian, Manažer servisu, Bruker – “AIRe Link solution is easy to use and provides excellent quality of video and audio. It helps us to solve issues remotely.”

Francesco Santoli, Co-Founder & Manager, Net Solution Srl. – “With the help of AIRe Link, many interventions that – in the past – could not be explained over the phone, can now be solved efficiently, through seeing what the customer sees.”

Tomáš Valla, Service Manager, VELTEKO s.r.o. – “Thanks to AIRe Link, we are providing fast and high-quality remote service of our high-tech vertical packaging machines to our customers worldwide.”

So how do I deploy AIRe Link in my business?

Through the implementation projects, KM ICW learned the best practice for piloting and deploying AIRe Link within field service organizations. To implement AIRe Link it is recommended to do to the following prior:

  • Run the deployment as an important new initiative within your remote service strategy.
  • Position field service at the centre of the new initiative; don’t underestimate the importance of human interactions for your customers in the digital world!
  • Relocate your most experienced service engineers from the field to a remote resolution team. The best talent for a new initiative is ideal!
  • Start by getting your technical support teams and field engineers up to speed with remote visual support – then, utilize on customers.
  • Educate your marketing, sales teams, and your customers – about the benefits of remote visual support. 

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