Augmented Reality – The future of product information and after-sales


Acolad Augmented Reality (AR) Solutions have been gathering steam since they were first showcased last year at our Business Breakfasts in Zurich Stuttgart and Dusseldorf and at AWE Europe in Munich. This year, our partnership with Adobe and RE‘FLEKT continues to bear fruit and our AR teams hit the road again to spread the news. The Adobe Immerse, Adobe Tech Comm Roadshow in Toulouse and Nantes and the first AEM Meetup in Hamburg were the first stops in what’s already being an exciting and busy ride with plenty of successful AR projects.

Recap with us the latest discussions on optimizing product support with interactive augmented reality guides and taking advantage of XML documentation to improve end-user experience, personalize content and increase loyalty.

Pioneering AR stories in Manufacturing

Leybold – one of the leading vacuum pump manufacturers and an early adopter of AR technology – has built an impressive augmented reality experience for a “ball bearing exchange” repair procedure. By using a head-mounted display (HMD) AR device like the Microsoft HoloLens, staff members can be guided through the ball bearing exchange procedure step by step, hands free. Along with instructions in text and illustrations, the single steps are further described with 3D animations. The Leybold Smart Service Assistant simplifies this otherwise complex maintenance procedure, making it easier even for untrained staff to ensure a high quality service. By saving repair time, reducing downtimes, optimizing performance and reducing the need for highly qualified technicians, the AR application helps the company deliver high-quality service and improve customer satisfaction, all while reducing the cost of the operation.



Another exciting innovation Acolad is working on for an industrial client in Switzerland is the possibility to integrate maintenance and repair procedures with spare parts suppliers’ ecommerce websites in real-time. Any time a spare part needs to be replaced, it can be easily ordered directly from the AR environment. The whole repair cycle can be further enhanced with Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The additional efficiencies achieved are strategic for manufacturers aiming to provide excellent post-sales service, and hit all the critical success factors: short cycle times, honoring service level agreements (SLAs) and a consistent after-sales customer experience.

The technology behind AR Enterprise Solutions

With the right tool stack, building compelling AR applications has become quite easy. It’s not a matter of having highly skilled developers it’s just a matter of configuring bits and pieces together.

Let’s start with a typical scenario in a manufacturing company. On one side, marketing teams use web content management systems (WCMS) to manage their digital content, e.g. Drupal, Typo3, Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), etc. In addition, they might use other tools and platforms, for example to manage email campaigns or retrieve web analytics. On the other side, there’s the need to handle the technical documentation, typically with systems such as SCHEMA ST4, Noxum or Componize. It’s a completely different technology stack than for the web content. The two systems (and teams) don’t communicate and if at all, you will find the technical documents as pdf’s in a download area of the company’s website.

When it comes to AR, a third technology stack – such as the RE’FLEKT One - is introduced. The textual content, illustrations and videos that you need for the AR app are already created in the technical documentation and marketing systems. However, they still need to be copied into and maintained in the AR platform, creating an undesirable redundancy. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one platform which breaks the silos and allows you to publish your web content, to handle your technical communication and to create your step-by-step instructions for AR apps?

From technical content to marketing content

At this point Acolad, Adobe and RE‘FLEKT come into the game with a joint innovation: consolidating marketing and technical content on one platform. The recently announced integration between Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and the RE‘FLEKT-One platform means all content needed for the AR apps may now be maintained and reused in the Adobe ecosystem.

With the XML Documentation Add-On, AEM turns into a DITA based Compound Content Management System (CCMS), a technology that technical editors know well. They can create step-by-step instructions and visualize product components as well as diagnostic data – without coding skills. By re-using 2D and 3D content, rich media and video, paper-based manuals can be turned into interactive guides. Once the content is ready it can be published to RE‘FLEKT using this integration.

The huge benefit of having one unique platform to manage all technical and marketing content is that all assets are shared. If there is already a translation workflow for the marketing content, it can be reused for technical documentation and AR apps content as well. Technical documentation can be easily published on to the website in engaging formats, such as HTML, thus providing better, more interactive, personalized product support experience for users, ultimately increasing customer loyalty.


AR technology is a great way not only to support maintenance procedures and technical training, but also to improve the quality of after sales service in the manufacturing industry.

With the recently announced joint effort from Acolad, Adobe and RE‘FLEKT, the potential of AR Enterprise technologies has expanded. This integrated cloud-based platform for marketing and technical content enables existing content from technical documentation to be reused not only in AR environments, but also throughout digital marketing channels and multiple business operations.