KONE's Commitment to Develop Eco-efficient Solutions and Services

Neeraj Sharma
"The demographic change and rapid urbanization are pushing the elevators & escalators market and we see potential in supporting with necessary solutions for better people flow. We are committed to systematically develop eco-efficient solutions and services for our customers and hence constantly keep creating cost-effective, safer and eco-friendly solutions to give them value and the best experience. Our current offering in the volume segment consumes 50% less energy. With stronger R&D and engineering collaboration here in India, we can serve the growing Indian market with even more innovative people flow solutions," says Mr. Neeraj Sharma, Executive Vice President – Asia Pacific & Middle East, KONE in an interview with Maria R.

Could you tell us in brief about the exponential growth of infrastructure construction sector in India in general and its impact on the growth of elevators & escalators market in particular?
Infrastructure investment as percent of GDP is expected to be at 8 percent in 2014-15. With the new stable government in place, now it's forecasted to reach 9 percent in 2016-17. Out of which 60% is expected to come from public investments & the rest from private?

Obviously this calls for attracting foreign investments. The new government is leading this by intensifying our ties with all the foreign allies. This investment is spread across various sectors like Railways, MRTS Airports, Roads & Bridges which is where our impact is. We also get to see a considerable change in the mindset of the authorities to improve the infrastructure in existing railway stations & roads by constructing FOB's – to enable safe & smooth people flow. We expect the infrastructure industry to grow in the next 5 years to change the construction landscape of India.

What factors are pushing this growth? Apart from residential and commercial projects, how significant are the urban transport infrastructure projects like airports, metro, etc for your business growth?
Demographic change and Rapid urba- nization are the two important factors pushing elevator & escalator market.

Some of the challenges for this Govt would be to speed up the land acquisition process with a single window clearance to have faster completions of the projects. Public Infrastructure for transportation has been a cause for concern in India. So developing airports & metros would mean more development and faster urbanization.

The Urban Development Ministry has started the exercise for formation of a new policy on Smart Cities. How do you see your business in the wake of 100 smart cities planned across the country?
Smart City is a good start but a long-term project for India. However, the concept of Smart City has been there around for quite some time, it has emerged very strongly after the budget 2014 where Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) improve the functioning of the cities and enhance their efficiency to provide centric access for everything.

The world's top 600 cities are expected to account for 60% of the global GDP by 2025 and according to McKinsey, Mumbai will be one of them.

In India, the Smart City concept started with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor which will have 24 Smart Cities. This means living, working, and commuting will get interconnected and this would also call for growth in smarter buildings. Better eco-efficient products, safer & secure solutions and building monitoring systems become vital for effective functioning of the concept. We see potential in supporting with necessary solutions for better people flow.

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Our latest innovation in technology, people flow Intelligence solutions which encompass the integrated access control systems will ensure that we support such developments thus providing smarter buildings to end users.

Kone is in the process of commissioning its second production facility. What is the production capacity and current status of the project? Would you please tell us your plans of expanding and rolling out offering with more variants there from?
KONE is planning to build a new manufacturing facility in India. This will be a state-of-the-art, world class facility which will be able to cater to high end technology needs too. The new manufacturing facility will be a part of KONE's global manufacturing network and will cater to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. We are sure this will help us with faster delivery as to support the changing needs of the customer.

What are the latest trends and development going on in the elevator industry with special focus on Green and Smart Elevator Technology? How does your company keep pace with changing technology?
KONE has been ranked the world's 12th greenest company by the American magazine Newsweek in the 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings. In the list, KONE is the only company representing the elevator and escalator industry among the top 50.

Our current offering in the volume segment consumes 50% less energy. The reduction is achieved due to the new technologies developed by us and our suppliers such as more efficient motors, use of regenerative technologies that recover the energy from the ascending and descending elevators as well as more efficient lighting and standby solutions. By reducing the energy consumption of elevators, KONE seeks to reduce the environmental impact of buildings which account for 40% of global energy consumption.

KONE's N Monospace and Minispace range of elevators which cater to the premium end of the market has already won lot of recognition for its design and eco-friendly nature. Would you like to tell us about your other recently introduced green technologies or products?
Our recent innovation has been the KONE UltraRopeTM. The super-light KONE UltraRopeTM technology provides unrivalled elevator eco-efficiency, reliability and durability, with improving elevator performance. It eliminates the disadvantages of existing steel ropes – high energy consumption, rope stretch, large moving masses, and downtime caused by building sway. KONE UltraRopeTM can enable future elevator travel heights up to 1,000 meters – twice as high as what is possible with today's technology.

The KONE Nanospace™ is a Revolutionary new HybridHoisting™ system that incorporates a unique combination of belt and rope technologies. Two thin balancing weights enable adaptive balancing and energy consumption optimization, and also allow more space for a larger car - proven energy-efficient KONE EcoReel™ motor technology with an all-new compact design.

The KONE Inno Track™, world's flattest technology for autowalks, uses the green drive technology.

Indian market is quite price-conscious but at the same time wants products to be more efficient, safer and eco-friendly. How are you making the synergy between these?
KONE is committed to systematically developing eco-efficient solutions and services for its customers. It has integrated requirements for energy-efficiency into the product creation process in order to provide increasingly eco- and energy-efficient solutions for new and old buildings.

Our ITEC (Technology Centre) will also play a key role in supporting KONE India's market development. KONE always aims to bring in the customer and end-user perspective when developing products and this is where the expertise of ITEC will be brought in to support the local market needs. We will have to be closer to our customer to understand the requirements better and need to be present across all segments. We are looking at constantly creating cost-effective, safer and eco-friendly solutions and keep giving our customers value and the best experience. With stronger R&D and engineering collaboration here in India, we can serve the growing Indian market with even more innovative People Flow solutions.

What is your view on the safety standards for elevators and escalators followed in the country? A word about your customer support services?
In recent times, tall buildings have not only continued to be built, but have also become more prevalent and more complex than ever before. As we are finally creating true cities in the sky, we are also faced with the need to maintain both safety and efficiency in the design of our solutions. It is necessary to not only rely on traditional building codes, but also to demonstrate safety in our tall buildings. Several issues concerning elevator use in emergencies, such as human behavior, control, training, equipment reliability, and communication, should be addressed before this mode of vertical transportation can be implemented. The industry is still not very mature and the presence of unorganized players both in new business and maintenance continues. Educating the customers and end users on the importance of safety becomes vital and KONE has been actively involved in cascading this.

The strong service team that we have across the country tirelessly works on responding to needs of customers at the earliest. Our 24/7 call center makes sure every complaint is registered and passed on to the right person to take action at once. It is not about only satisfying the customer but also providing him with an experience that makes him remain with us.
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