Interview: Using AR for Selling at Manufacturing Tradeshows
They say “Seeing is believing” and nowhere is this more true than at Hannover Messe, the world's largest Manufacturing trade show held every year in Northern Germany. This is the setting Piab chose to test Tacton’s CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) with AR (Augmented Reality). Piab, a Swedish manufacturer of vacuum conveyors and other assembly technology, have been at Hannover’s tradeshow several times with this year being the first to share a booth with Tacton. We sat down with Piab’s Josef Karbassi, Vice President of Vacuum Automation Division, and Milan Bratt, Global Product Manager, to learn more about their experience using AR.
About Tacton CPQ with AR: Tacton has created an App (for mobile and tablets) that allows companies to showcase their products virtually within its surroundings. Unlike traditional visual configurators that only display the configured product on screen, the app gives the user the additional option to place a virtual 3D image within the camera view as if they were in front of them. This 3D rendering of the product further adds value to the sales process as the buyer can see the items size, shape, and even walk around it to get a 360-degree view. To learn more about it, watch this short demo video. To try it out for yourself, see instructions at the bottom of the page.
Giving your visitors the ability to explore your latest products with an AR experience is always a good way of breaking through the noise at crowded tradeshows. It is also a great advantage to be able to have all your products (no matter how large or small) in your pocket, with the ability to turn every space into an impromptu showroom.
Piab, an early adopter of technology, understands this very well. They were more than glad to share their experience of using AR at the 2019 Hannover Messe (HM19).
How would you describe the weeks leading to HM19?
Milan: We started preparing for Hannover Messe months in advance. We, of course, wanted to make the most of it and we wanted to display our entire product range. However, this would be highly impractical, so we decided to bring one of our latest products, the ergonomic tube lifter. It was assembled and displayed in collaboration with other manufacturers, so we were happy how it turned out.
Josef: The scope and reach of HM19 is so large that we needed to be very strategic about it. We were lucky to have two displays booths set up in different parts of the fair. One in the Swedish Pavillion, where we collaborated with Tacton. In this booth, we chose to display and demo one of our complex products, a vacuum conveyor. Our other booth was our primary booth located in the robotics area where we displayed our ergonomic tube lifter.
How was your first experience using AR at HM19?
Josef: It was great fun! Once I downloaded the app on my phone, I was able to pull it out at any time and show visitors what this tool was capable of. I would even hand over the phone so that visitors can experience it on their own. It was great to see people using the tool where they would walk around with it and view the item from multiple angles at the same time.
Milan: It was great to be able to place the objects in the room and have them see what the size and look of our products are. It was much easier for visitors to understand what we were offering by configuring it and displaying it as if they had it in front of them.
Do you think AR made a difference?
Josef: It was great to have the capability of using our smartphone and table to “bring to life” the product directly on the showroom floor. I normally use the tool on the laptop during a face-to-face meeting, but the app took it to the next level. All we needed was our smartphone or tablet and instantly we can talk about our products and display them with a high-quality image that people can walk around and see it from all angles. It’s just so different than seeing a CAD image which was what the industry was used to.
Milan: The images were even more visually appealing. The big benefit [for me] is to place the product out on the floor. To show the customer that it is indeed possible to fit the components in the space. It’s a huge advantage.
AR: a tool that builds client Relationships
Overall, the Piab’s experience showed that AR really helped to start conversations around the products and technology. In other words, once the original “wow” of the AR experience settled, people started to ask more questions about the product itself. Visitors were interested in the various ways it can be configured, and how those different set-ups changed the way the product looked and performed.
This experience also showed just how easy it was for manufacturers to adopt AR within their B2B sales process. This is because the tool is not just a visual aide, it truly deepens the conversation about the product and all its features. The engagement and discussion around the product helped to develop and strengthen relationships, which is crucial for B2B sales.
If you would like to try out Piab’s AR visualizer for yourself, follow these instructions:
1) Download the Tacton CPQ AR App from the Apple App Store.
2) Scan the QR code (see below) with the app
3) Visualize the product in the environment around you