India is witnessing the arrival of a new generation of elevators which have been equipped with innovative technologies offering energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and 'smartness'. Moreover the growth in the construction and infra sectors will provide further impetus to the market, observes S.D. Khan.
A middle aged gentleman visited a housing society developer to enquire about any apartment for sale. The developer wanted to show him a flat on the 10th floor but the gentleman was keen on residing on the 1st or 2nd floor, in order to avoid the steep staircase and irritating lifts. Nevertheless, the builder convinced him to see the flat by saying that this building is equipped with 'latest technologically advanced elevators'. Well, the gentleman's pre-conceived notion of a suffocating and time consuming 'lift' took a beating as he entered the elevator. Here, the ambience was soothing and aesthetic, lighting was optimum, destination control and rider flow mechanisms were appropriate, and above all, he felt safe, enjoyed the ride to the 10th floor and finally purchased the apartment.
And this is the story of almost every urbanized Indian, who is well-travelled and well-informed, and exposed to the novel international technologies. He seeks the same offerings here as well. Secondly, India is now at such a stage where population explosion has led to highrise buildings, and people want faster vertical movement at safe speeds.
These factors are playing a vital role in making Smart Elevators popular. Mr. Neeraj Sharma, Managing Director, Kone Elevator India Private Limited, says, "Emphasis on safety, destination control system, ultra rope - for high rise buildings, and People Flow Intelligence solutions are the latest trends. Moreover, eco-efficient solutions are gaining importance in terms of reducing the running costs of buildings, cars, and other equipment. As living standards rise, societies become more interested in the safety and well-being of their people. Taller buildings need lesser waiting time, hence the speed factor plays a vital role. Energy efficiency and ride comfort become crucial, and ultra rope (for buildings taller than 1 km) comes in very handy here. For security purposes, access control systems play a vital role, aesthetics are also being given a lot of weightage."
On the other hand, optimal utilization of space and energy efficiency are also crucial. Mr. V Gurumoorthy, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, ThyssenKrupp Elevator India, adds, "Over the last decade, machine-room-less elevators have become increasingly popular for low-rise and medium-rise buildings. The traction machine is installed at the top of the shaft without a separate machine room which saves space, reduces building construction cost and gives much more flexibility to architects for designing building space usage. With the market's increasing demand for energy efficiency, new permanent magnet synchronous (PMS) gearless traction machines consume up to 50% less energy than conventional geared machines. PMS machines are also lighter, more compact and require no gear box. They therefore also save on material and require no gear oil.
Highrise and high-speed elevators can be equipped with a regenerative drive feature which feeds energy back into the building's power grid during the motor's generative mode (when the car is lightly loaded and moving up, or heavily loaded and moving down). Adding the regenerative feature can reduce energy consumption of the elevator by up to 50%.
In terms of elevator control technology, the most important advancement in recent years is destination selection control (DSC), for which passengers enter their destination floor on input terminals in the lift lobby. Each passenger is then assigned to a specific lift which would take him or her to the respective destination floor in the shortest time with a minimal number of intermediate stops. Compared to conventional elevator control systems, DSC increases passenger handling capacity by up to 30%, minimizes passengers' travel times to their destination and reduces crowding in lift lobbies. DSC also allows for much more flexibility in elevator grouping, lift core layouts and overall building design."
Embracing Change with Open Arms!
It has been the case that more often than not, when a person enters an elevator, he/she is greeted by a peculiar and unpleasant smell. And the dim lights make it even more suffocating. How is the elevator industry overcoming these problems? Informs Mr. Gurumoorthy, "To tackle the problem of stale air and unpleasant smell in the confined space of an elevator car, we provide quiet but efficient electric fans hidden above the car ceiling to ensure that a sufficient volume of fresh air flows through the car during the elevator's operation. The interiors of our passenger elevators are tastefully designed to suit customers' requirements. Clear or back-painted glass and stainless steel paneling in combination with energy-efficient LED lighting provide a fitting ambience for the passengers.Our elevator ceiling is designed to dispense light and air, but is otherwise rather inconspicuous. Lighting options range from classical lamps, halogen spots and a coffer ceiling to indirect lighting, as well as standard or customized lighting patterns in the ceiling."
"In order to give passengers a sense of spaciousness while travelling in elevators, glass has been used increasingly in elevator construction for both the cars and shafts in recent years while complying with all normal safety standards. ThyssenKrupp Elevator has by now supplied and installed numerous elevators with glass cars and shafts in commercial complexes and airports such as Indira Gandhi International Airport Terminal 3 in Delhi," he adds.
Meanwhile, Kone's efforts too are quite commendable. According to Mr. Timo Tiainen, Director Design, "From the usability perspective, there are two things that are especially important in India; amount of people and weather conditions; heat in particular. How to make fluent people flows with masses of people, and how to make it feel comfortable when you add high temperature to that. For instance, we did an extensive study about the people flow in Delhi Metro Rail in-order to understand the challenges, and to be able to provide suitable solution there. For the hot conditions, we have India specific solutions for elevator car ventilation to ensure air flow and make your ride as pleasant as possible. Of course, lighting, colors and patterns are playing and important role too. You can make the elevator more spacious and even cooler by designing the interior in a right way."
He continues, "Design is not only about styling and aesthetics, it's actually the holistic user experience, which improves the overall quality of the journey within the building. Variety of aesthetic styles that create moods for different needs is what we believe in. Our new launches Nmono and Nmini have five different themes to choose from based on patterns, lighting, and material. The themes are named Modern Simplicity, Cool Vintage, Classic Chic, Industrial Chic & Noveau Glamor. The objective is to create a meaningful and memorable space."
Infact, customised elevators are in India! Mr. Sharma says that this trend is visible especially in Hotels, Medical & Infra Segments. "The needs vary across segments, hence catering to specific customer interests in on the increase." Affirms Mr. Gurumoorthy, "Customized elevators are gaining popularity in India, and they are especially designed with the specific requirements of the clients in mind. Elevators are increasingly becoming architectural features in commercial complexes, shopping centres, hotels and even airports. We have to date supplied and installed quite a number of panorama elevators with glass cars in various projects throughout India."
What augurs well for the elevator industry is the quick acceptance of the latest technologies not only by influencers such as architects and consultants, but also users. Appreciating this trend, Mr. Gurumoorthy notes, "With the continuing growth in the elevator market, property developers, architects, engineers and end-users in India have little trouble accepting and embracing the latest elevator technology and features in recent years. We have already sold and installed numerous elevators with energy-efficient PMS machines and machine-room-less elevators throughout the country. The increasing number of highrise buildings in major cities also requires elevators with higher speeds and heavier load capacities to carry a large number of passengers safely and comfortably. All these elevators we have supplied comply with the local and international safety standards. We have also secured several projects with destination selection control in India to date."
"The stringent regulations being imposed by the governments," he continues, "augmented by the increasing need to save operational costs by building manager/owners have enhanced the demand for elevator access controls, more security and automation features. We have also been successful in modernising older elevators in existing buildings with modern machines and control systems in order to make them more energy-efficient and increase their passenger handling capacity. We can also provide a central monitoring system to remotely-monitor the real-time status of all elevators, escalators and moving walks installed in a large complex in order to increase security and operational efficiency."
Well, the unabated construction activities coupled with the burgeoning demand of residential and commercial complexes are bound to pull the demand of elevators in the country to monumental levels. According to experts, the elevator market in India is expanding day-by-day. Mr. Gurumoorthy informs, "India has the world's second largest Elevator & Escalator (E&E) market today with the current market size at more than 50,000 units per year. Due to increasing urbanisation, highrise office buildings and apartments, as well as multi-storey shopping and entertainment centres are rapidly springing up in overcrowding cities. As a result, the elevator market is expected to grow by about 10% per year in the next few years."
He is of the view that the major drivers for the growth of the elevator and escalators market are increase in construction of commercial buildings for office, retail, and hospitality use, demand from new housing units, and new cluster development projects. "In addition, the Government's push to improve public transport infrastructure in the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) has also been a major boost to the elevator and escalator market."
And according to Mr. Sharma, "Four megatrends that drive the growth of our industry are urbanization, demographic change, safety, and environment. Urbanization means that cities will increasingly grow upwards, driving the demand for elevators and escalators. There are two types of demographic changes that especially drive our business. First and foremost is the growing number of middle-income people, and secondly, the aging population."
Nonetheless there are some impediments as well. As Mr. Gurumoorthy points out, "The major impediment in the Indian elevator market is that despite being the second largest, it isn't the most high-tech in the world. The number of high rise towers being built is still relatively small, which means the elevators supplied have generally lower speeds and less sophisticated control systems. The recent slowdown in the residential real estate market has had a negative impact on the elevator industry, resulting in delays in order finalisation and project completion."
Another trend that has been observed is that most of the mid and small size projects are generally taken over by low cost countries' products. In such a scenario, what business strategies are being adopted to capture this share of small and mid size projects by tackling price sensitiveness of the buyers? Talking of ThyssenKrupp's strategy, he says, "ThyssenKrupp Elevator is a global company and essentially operates in all market segments by providing products and services which are fit-for-purpose to the respective customers. However, we do not compromise on safety and quality. Within these safety and quality guidelines we offer competitive and economical solutions for a wide variety of applications and requirements through efficient manufacturing and supply-chain management, and by sourcing from our own factories and approved suppliers in different countries."
And Mr. Sharma adds that Kone is concentrating on in house engineering, factory expansion, innovations, and quality products to provide solution for the ever increasing, demanding market.
Considering the growing acceptance of innovation amongst the masses coupled with relentless growth of construction activities, it's ascertained that Smart Elevators will continue to witness a fillip in the country. And they will continue to grow smarter in the years to come!