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A virtual customer service solution

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A virtual customer service solution


Augmented reality technology and wearable devices like Microsoft HoloLens and Realwear hands-free devices are empowering Howden to offer instant remote assistance to customers worldwide.

As a global engineering business that provides mission-critical air and gas handling equipment for use in the energy renewables, wastewater, mining, transportation and many more sectors, if our equipment fails this can cause major challenges for customers. This is why it is critical that we provide rapid troubleshooting and support services.

To do this, we have developed an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform that captures performance data from equipment. Howden Uptime is a unique digital solution powered by a world-leading analytics model with intelligent machine-learning algorithms. This combined with our digital twin technology enables owners and operators to extend equipment life, improve performance and avoid unplanned events that could lead to costly downtime.

We have also took advantage of the growing convergence of data systems, new software-as-a-service solutions and hardware such as Microsoft HoloLens to combine our IIoT platform with Augmented Reality (AR) technology and introduce new remote assistance services.

By using AR technology, our field service engineers and product experts can conduct remote visual analyses of equipment, guide customers through necessary checks and factor in data from the equipment’s IIoT sensors to identify the issue. They can then remotely navigate customers through temporary remedial actions to prevent equipment failure and keep them operational until one of our experts can make an in-person visit.

Not only does this decrease travel costs, but it also boosts employee productivity by ensuring they can bring the right tools and spare parts to ensure a first-time fix.

AR is equally beneficial for empowering Howden employees to share knowledge and collaborate internally. For example, a field service engineer can wear a hands-free wearable device while working on a piece of equipment at a customer’s facility in India and call a product expert in Germany to seek their advice when resolving an issue.

Howden engineer utilising RealWear
Howden engineer utilising RealWear

We are also videoing Howden’s experts resolving common issues and supplementing the videos with additional instructions and product information to build a library of on-demand training material that field service engineers can access at anytime from anywhere.

This allows them to follow step-by-step processes to work on any piece of Howden equipment independently, rather than waiting until a product expert is available.

To successfully transition employees to remote working, Howden implemented a change management programme, highlighting the benefits of AR technology. The breakthrough moment came when we used AR and HoloLens to help a customer resolve a vibration issue with an axial fan at a power station in Asia.

We avoided multiple site visits and weeks’ worth of calls and emails between different parties by instead capturing vibration data via the fan’s sensors and setting up a call between our vibration experts in Scotland, the product designer in Denmark and the customer who was wearing a HoloLens on-site.

Everyone shared their expertise and successfully navigated the customer through checks to identify the issue and a solution. The time, cost and efficiency benefits suddenly became clear to all parties.

The Howden team is fully invested in using AR to provide remote assistance to be able to vastly improve the customer experience.

Find out more

Augmented Reality whitepaper

Article Date

Friday, 13 May 2022


Graeme Russell, Commercial Lead - Data Driven Advantage



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