The elevators industry is witnessing enhanced activity in tandem with the robust growth in Infrastructure development and high rise buildings across the country. Rapid urbanization and increasing population density is leading to construction of high rise residential and commercial spaces. The new revised National Building Code in its 2016 version has included a chapter on lifts and escalators with their updated performance measurements and provisions as per the revised standards of lifts. The Code also focuses on requirements for high speed lifts including ones for fire fighting and emergency evacuation, and which are energy efficient too.
Focus on high performance elevators
A TechSci Research report titled 'India Elevators Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2019' says that the elevators market in India is set to grow at a CAGR of around 12% during 2014-19. Currently, elevators are witnessing the highest penetration in mid-rise and high-rise residential buildings. The residential sector accounted for more than 60% volume share of elevators in 2014, which makes it the highest revenue generating segment for the country's elevators market.
Further, with continuing technological advancements and the consequent launch of new energy-efficient and high-speed elevators, installation of elevators in the commercial real estate segment is increasing significantly. Such high performance elevators, especially designed for buildings in metropolitan cities, are expected to gain significant market share during the forecast period. To capitalize on increasing domestic demand, manufacturers such as Kone and Otis have set up own manufacturing units in India. Furthermore, as competition heats up, technical attributes will give an edge to companies in winning contracts. This is driving companies to upgrade their products, and expand their services to include customization and after- sales services and timely maintenance.
Delineating further, he says, "ITEC has been playing a key role in supporting KONE India's market development. We have always made systematic & long-term investments into our R&D capabilities to strengthen our innovation leadership in the elevator & escalator industry. With stronger R&D, engineering collaboration, and an expanded facility here in India, we can serve the growing Indian market with even more innovative 'people flow' solutions that are safe, reliable, comfortable, and energy-efficient. We will continue innovating and provide value to our customers in line with the market trends. We have a best-in-class supply unit to serve and support the ever increasing needs of our rapidly increasing clientele."
In a move to further strengthen its presence in the country, Otis has expanded its Bengaluru manufacturing facility by tripling the size of the factory footprint and doubling manufacturing capacity. The facility's new test tower stands at a height of 51.2 meters and has the ability to test up to five elevators at a time. The test tower also includes mechanical and electrical test labs that are equipped with high-end test equipment and staffed with a strong technical team to ensure all new products are tested and qualified to the highest safety, quality and reliability standards. The Otis Bengaluru factory is now gearing up to offer even higher speed elevators based on the Gen2 technology.
Elaborating on the demand trends and technologies, the spokesperson at Toshiba Johnson Elevators (India) Pvt. Ltd. says, "The new age buyers are aware of the several technical parameters of elevators. The demand is for smart vertical mobility solutions rather than mere a simple elevator unit. It is important for us to not only cater to the myriad requirements set forth by the users but also offer competitive prices for a successful win. All our elevators and escalators come with energy conscious features like Permanent magnet synchronous gearless motor, variable voltage variable frequency drives, power regeneration feature and use of LED's for illumination in car. In addition to the features listed above, the design of our product is Lead free, uses active roller guides instead of guide shoes which eliminates the use of lubrication oil and is 100% RoHS compliant."
He adds, "Over the last decade, elevator industry has witnessed the development of technologies (such as Regenerative drives, Destination control systems, Double Deck elevators etc) emphasizing on safety, energy efficiency, speed, automation and passenger convenience. At Toshiba, safety is of paramount importance. To achieve this, our elevators are equipped with numerous safety features like automatic rescue device, power failure emergency operation, fire emergency operation, three dimensional infra-red light curtains, earthquake protection feature, over-speed protection etc."
After-sales service is the key
Needless to say, after sales service that involves regular monitoring and maintenance of the elevators, is key to an elevator company's brand image. Sales service can make or break the bond between company and customer. It determines customer satisfaction and retention, repeat orders, word of mouth publicity, all of which are important for service-based businesses to keep themselves insulated against competition.
After-sales service has a strong impact on customer satisfaction and consequently on the repurchase rate of a product/brand, and is a vital part of the brand promise. A customer who is dissatisfied with the company's service or maintenance, will tend to switch to another brand. The service provided must ensure the reality of the value proposition offered by the company.
Service is the core competence when it comes to products like elevators or escalators. Our 24X7 KONE customer care center handles all queries and complaints guiding it to the concerned department and to the right people, promptly. Our experts and well-trained service technicians on the field leave no stone unturned when it comes to addressing customer concerns. The success in service is not just about complaint handling but providing the right solution too. At KONE, we put safety first as safety for us means more than just conforming to the local laws and norms. KONE Care Maintenance is designed to detect issues before problems arise, reduce hazards, and prevent accidents from taking place," asserts Mr. Gossain.
According to him, Preventive Maintenance is at the heart of KONE Care. Each KONE service technician takes ownership of Quality and is driven by continuous Quality initiatives and training. "We have versatile maintenance programs to suit every need. Our digitised nationwide network ensures the building's equipment is not kept waiting for urgently needed spares," he avers.
We strive continuously to deliver our promise "We're from KONE. We take care".
"Service comes first at Otis," says Mr. Sebi Joseph. "We take pride in delivering prompt, professional service, the maximum level of equipment availability for riders and building owners, and proactive communications to our customers. Our offerings make use of the latest technologies as well as the deep knowledge, experience and skills of our people. When it comes to replacement of parts, compatibility is of utmost importance. With a pioneering technology and all-encompassing experience, Otis elevators are supported by its National Service Centre in Mumbai, which ensures regular supply of spares." According to him, the fact that elevators installed by Otis over 50 years ago are still in optimum working condition, is the stamp of assurance from a world leader that your equipment too will get nothing but the best.
Otis too has established quite a formidable network of service personnel. The company's network of over 85 service centers, 55,000+ elevators servicing 300 cities across the length and breadth of the country, ensures easy access to customers. "We have taken motorised service routes (technicians on cars and two-wheelers) to ensure extra fast response to customer calls. The 'OTISLine' customer support system offers 24x7 support via dedicated toll-free centralised helpline numbers. It has recently introduced eService that allows building owners and managers who have an existing maintenance contract with Otis to view their elevators' performance details around the clock.
According to Mr. Parokaran, Schindler is the first in the industry to fully integrate all its service tools into one seamless SAP platform. "This allows us to make dynamic, real-time adjustments, resulting in improved consistency, reliability and response time. Our service technicians are equipped with iPhones, which act as hand-held, 'Field-Link' devices, and enable them to identify and prioritise the service needs of our customers, and resolve them promptly."
After-sales service is one area to which ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) accords the highest importance. "Our performance in the Critical Parameters in this business can match the best in the industry. We firmly believe that our existing customers are our strongest brand ambassadors and if they are happy with our service performance, we do not have to bother about brand substitution. We have an up and running service set-up with a pan India footprint, covering the remotest of locations," says Mr. Ramu.
Discussing the company's strength, Mr. Ramu says, "We are able to offer maximum uptime of our elevators through our 950 highly trained and dedicated service team members across a nationwide network of 6 zonal offices, 27 branches, and 70 service and response centres, which maintains over 19,000 units across India and provides unceasing 24x7 support to our customers. In addition to this, our national toll free number with 4 localised call centres provides faster response in 12 most widely spoken languages of the country. Needless to say, ThyssenKrupp is committed to providing the safest and most customer-centric services to all its customers."
According to Mr. Moudgil, the Gilco Group has a rich experience in providing technical support and maintenance through its presence in over 103 cities of India. "With a rich experience of after-sales service, we ensure minimum downtime of the lifts/elevators supplied by us. Our staff is also undergoing repetitive extensive training on our installation and maintenance methods. We are now installing elevators in hospitals, institutional buildings, private residences, commercial malls and multi-storey residential buildings across the country," he asserts.
Long-term Business strategies
According to the report, besides installation, India is also a lucrative market for maintenance and modernization of existing elevators. Smart elevators, which are equipped with advanced security solutions such as biometrics and access control, are becoming increasingly popular in the industrial sector, thereby creating opportunities for system upgradations. Increasing public-private investments in infrastructure development, high-rise construction, ongoing government housing projects, airports, and metro-rail expansions across various cities, are propelling demand for new installations.
Comments Mr. Ramu, "With a CAGR of 11.2%, India is currently the fastest growing elevator market in the world, and the industry is expected to grow to 95,000 units by 2018-19. From a market value of 1.36 billion euros in 2013/14, it is expected to reach 2.57 billion euros in 2019. This momentum is largely fuelled by rapid urbanisation and the resulting new constructions. Presently, Thyssenkrupp expects this growth to continue along with local demand for mobility solutions."
He says, "Our business strategy is based on long term planning and is rarely tweaked due to short term demand fluctuations. Short term cyclical fluctuations are the unfortunate reality of every industry. The realty industry has remained static in the last few months, however, at the commencement of the 12th Five Year Plan, the housing shortage nationwide was estimated to be 18.78 million units. India is home to about 78 million homeless people despite the country's growing global economic stature. The last census revealed that across India, about 0.19% of the population is without a home. Therefore, the sheer demand for homes is huge. Hence, we are not worried about short term cyclical fluctuations in demand knowing that over the long term, increasing housing demand will lead to huge requirement for elevators, which will ensure growth for our company."
He adds, "Our long term business strategy is to continue to offer ingenious, customized and energy efficient mobility solutions. We are also determined to strengthen our Maintenance and Service business, at the same time we are committed to investing continuously in our employees through comprehensive training programmes on new manufacturing, installation and maintenance processes."
The company also focuses on creating customized interiors in its elevators. "We boast a huge range of interior finishes for our lifts with materials ranging from high grade SS in vandal-proof finishes in leather and elephant skin textures to HPL (high pressure laminates), in a wide range of colour shades ranging from plain colours to wood finishes. Our wide array of flooring solutions range from chequered aluminium and stainless steel, to vinyl finishes in different shades and textures," emphasizes Mr. Moudgil.
He adds, "We have already started gaining mileage with our elevators in hospitals, malls, residential complexes, private homes and factory complexes. To capture the market across all these sectors more strongly and uniformly, we are focusing on our four lift models: X-10 which is a machine room less gearless model for private homes and small buildings; X-27 for requirements specific to multi-storied high rise residential buildings; X-28 designed for healthcare/ hospital installations; and X-26 model for commercial and public buildings."
According to Toshiba spokesperson, more than 55,000 elevators units are expected to be sold this year. Mass housing projects across several Tier I and Tier II cities are keeping the momentum going, and the emergence of newer markets viz Hyderabad, Pune and Kochi will see development of commercial and infrastructure projects. He informs, "Toshiba is specialized in providing customized vertical transportation solutions to prestigious and premium category projects viz. One Avighna Park, Mumbai, Gujarat International Financial City, Ahmedabad, Godrej BKC, Mumbai, DLF Camellias and DLF Ultima, Gurgaon, and many more. For Godrej BKC project, we are supplying twenty two  nos.of units having highly complex and bespoke elevator design which none of the Japanese contemporaries have supplied so far in India. With every passing year, TJEI aims to raise its bar of achievements higher and consolidate our annual sales to 2000 units per year by FY-2020."
Positive Growth Prospects
India's elevator market, the second largest with sales of about 50,000 units per annum, is poised to grow over the coming years along with the economic growth of the country. It is anticipated that the Elevator & Escalator market will grow at a CAGR of 15.12%, in terms of newly installed units, over the period 2014-2019. Increased migration to urban areas, rise in aged population, rising disposable income, foreign direct investment inflow, and increase in construction activity across all infrastructure sectors including real estate, rapid transit systems, railway stations, airports, etc, will stimulate demand for elevators and escalators.
While quality, innovativeness, and customization will be the key brand differentiators, prompt and timely after-sales service can have a strong impact on customer choice of brand. Taking cognizance of this fact, companies are ramping up their after-sales and maintenance services, investing in training of their technicians, setting up base across all the regions, offering up-to-date solutions to address customer queries, and expanding their reach for quick accessibility by their customers. All the companies interviewed opine that a sound and consistent after-sales service contributes to a sustainable competitive advantage, which cannot be duplicated by the product only. Reliable and robust customer service also increases the acceptance rate of a new product or an innovative solution launched by the company.