How do you view the market and demand trend in elevators, escalators & travellators in India?
As India is in a phase of rapid urbanization, it is not surprising that the demand for taller, better and more sophisticated buildings is going up. We need many more homes, hotels, hospitals, malls and metros, and I am sure that in such a scenario the elevator and escalator market is only going to grow. Compared to the global elevator & escalator market, currently, India stands second at approximately 50,000+units. With a CAGR of around 8–10%, we expect the market to grow stronger, going forward.
Amit Gossain, Managing Director, KONE India, shares his view with Maria R. on the company’s technological strengths, product developments, and its business strategies to garner a larger pie of India’s growing elevators & escalators market.
There is good growth seen in the infrastructure segment also, and with metros and airports increasing the need for escalators and travellators will also increase. There will be a need for further reduction of carbon footprint and increased construction of intelligent buildings with smoother people flow. So, it becomes essential that we provide smart and eco-efficient vertical mobility solutions to support and improve traffic management. And we are in the business of providing smooth urban people flow that can help cities become better.
One of the emerging trends in the industry is collaborating on opportunities to enhance connectivity through the use of IoT products and services to better connect customers with elevator, escalator, and moving walkway equipment.
How do you view increasing demand for ultra-high-speed lifts in high-rise buildings? Since the elevator operates under highly demanding conditions in tall buildings, how challenging is it for elevator manufacturers to take people and material safely to the desired heights?
High-rise buildings are towering achievements that indicate the future of urban living. Every single day, there are millions of people moving around these impressive structures – working, living, and visiting. Tenants expect the best in comfort, security and convenience. Building owners and managers require the project to be completed on time with cutting-edge technology and integrated systems that enable efficient building management. Meeting all these demands in a high-rise building is always a challenge since the elevator operates under highly demanding conditions. When existing technology & solution can be taken no further to meet this challenge, there comes the need for innovation!
Our history of innovation is one of our success factors and we always believe in being closer to the customer. Completing the projects on time is one of the top priorities for all the builders in any project and if it’s a high-rise, it becomes a greater challenge for the elevator company to safely transport all the required construction material and people to the desired height. That’s when KONE came with an innovative solution called the JumpLift – a construction time elevator that uses the building hoists to move upward as the construction progresses. This unique construction time elevator uses a temporary machine room that can be shifted up or down, depending upon the need. It enables safe & fast construction, reduces downtime & costs, facilitates early closing of facades, and enables safe & efficient transportation for people and materials in all weather conditions.
KONE also introduced a new hoisting technology “KONE UltraRope®” – a super light carbon fiber core. The UltraRope® is 90% lighter than the equivalent steel cable, thereby, bringing a reduction of more than 50% in moving masses and 15% in energy consumption. It also allows the elevator to travel up to one km in a single run, which is double of what’s currently possible with a steel cable.
KONE Polaris Hybrid Destination Control systems combine the best of destination and traditional control system, which leads to increased handling capacity, shorter waiting time, fewer intermediate stops, and enhanced passenger comfort. It also adds a high-tech feel and improved security to the building. All these innovations have made us feature for the sixth time consecutively in the Forbes list of 100 most innovative companies.
We have always made systematic and long-term investments in our R&D capabilities to strengthen our innovation leadership in the elevator & escalator industry. One such example is the coming together of KONE and technology giant IBM – the agreement to provide cloud-based Internet of Things, technologies and services. This will benefit the customer in remote monitoring of elevators & escalators, thereby reducing downtimes.
What are the other innovative solutions in KONE’s product basket?
We have a range of products that cater to every segment. India is predominantly a residential market and our gearless products KONE I MonoSpace and KONE I MiniSpace that were launched in 2015 have been performing very well. Our key differentiators would be the Improved ride comfort, Increased safety features, and the Inspired design. The designs have been inspired from the five elements of nature and the designs definitely enhance the aesthetics of the elevator cars.
The KONE N MonoSpace elevators introduced in 2012 are up to 28% more energy-efficient than KONE’s previous industry-leading elevator platform. The improvements are made possible by the completely renewed KONE EcoDisc® hoisting machine, a highly efficient drive, and enhanced standby solutions. This, together with the substantial design and ride comfort improvements, will further support our customers.
The renewed KONE EcoDisc hoisting machine is complemented by a wide range of upgrades that are designed to deliver industry-leading ride comfort: a new motor control system, a renewed braking system, a redesigned hoisting system, and an improved car structure. One significant improvement is also a comprehensive test for ride comfort, now conducted on every KONE elevator before handover – this is a unique service in the elevator industry
KONE has also developed the world’s flattest autowalk technology, which makes designing locations for and installing autowalks considerably easier. It is so flat that, unlike conventional solutions, it can be installed entirely on the floor level.
KONE is a technology driven company and technology always comes with a price, but in India price is a concern. How does Kone address the price issue?
Since our inception in India, we have been manufacturing in Chennai. Today, we have streamlined our supply chain such that our products are available to the customer at the right time and cost, and without compromising on quality and safety. Safe mobility has always been our mantra, and it is the main difference between us and other cheaper solutions available in the market. Quality and safety are fundamental to any elevator company of repute, and for it to progress from a good company to a great company, it cannot compromise on any of the two basic requirements.
The life of an elevator is quite long and it is important that we use the right technology, which, no doubt, comes at a price. Though the market is price competitive, customers look for value in the product, and if we can provide the full value chain to them, we have achieved what we had set out to do. So, though technology can be the product differentiator, the ultimate winner is the customer service that a manufacturer provides.
Please tell us about your customer support and maintenance services.
Elevators require regular maintenance and as the elevator ages, the need for modernization or upgradation also comes in. Like any other industry, the maintenance business in the elevator industry is also very important. With the installed base in the country increasing, the need to offer timely and effective service becomes the key differentiating factor. The major elevator companies are generating a significant share of their revenue from maintenance and modernization of existing elevators.
We support our customers at every step of the way: from design, manufacturing and installation to maintenance and modernization. Our commitment to customers is present in all our solutions, which makes us a reliable partner throughout the lifecycle of the building. We are fast, ﬂexible, and have a well-deserved reputation as a reliable technology and service partner.
The elevators industry is still regarded as unorganized. What challenges are the end-users facing from unorganized players?
In India, the Elevator industry still has the presence of un organized players in both new equipment and maintenance business. Unlike in other industries viz automobile and construction equipment, etc, the lack of regulatory body is primarily responsible for the presence of un organized players. Even customers and end-users are not aware of the importance of safety that an ideal elevator provides in the right way. Quality installation and appropriate maintenance are the two key parameters that help in smooth functioning of the elevators. The quality of installation and service provided by the unorganized players would not be in line with the organized elevator sector and this is a clear differentiator. It is important that post the hand-over of an elevator, the customer enters into a maintenance contract with the OEM to ensure that safety and quality are not compromised with.