Shakir Ahmed, Managing Director, Fujitec India
Shakir Ahmed, Managing Director, Fujitec India, shares his views on India’s rapidly modernizing E&E industry and Fujitec’s contribution to its growth.

How is vertical transportation evolving in India’s high-rise constructions?

Vertical transportation (VT) requirements are now being looked into and planned during the design stage. Entry of multinational companies and international architects into India and with their requirements are bringing in a lot more awareness on the vertical transportation needs. We come across most of the leading developers and construction firms associated with VT consultants to ensure they get this right. Fujitec sales and engineering teams also support architects and builders during the planning and design stage to come up with suitable solutions for their projects. We are also observing the average elevator speeds going up in India with people looking to provide the apt solutions based on the height of the building. Vertical transportation codes are also being modified and strengthened to global standards. However, there is a lot of awareness and education that needs to be done in this regard to all stakeholders which will take some time.

Fujitec India Tapping Opportunities in India’s Growing Vertical Transportation Needs

What are the major challenges in vertical transportation/elevatoring in the country?

In our country, elevatoring is an evolving and a growing market. Builders and contractors want fast delivery and completion schedules of their construction projects. The availability of technically skilled manpower (mostly for installation) is a major challenge as most of the elevator companies rely on sub-contractors who are mostly unorganized. At Fujitec, we are working on various schemes to take onboard and retain trained sub-contractors.

How closely should elevator manufacturers work with the architects, developers, and consultants while designing a building?

A well-planned and designed vertical transportation system is the lifeline of the building. Awareness of having the right system is increasing with developers working alongside international architects and consultants while planning the elevatoring in their projects.

We still see many buildings with users queuing up for the elevator, which is being managed by an operator. Today, elevator manufacturers are offering solutions with a fully automated group system with destination dispatch for improved performance. However, there is no cost-effective substitute to having an additional elevator to better the performance of the elevatoring system in a building.

What, according to you, should be the minimum/mandatory quality and safety codes and standards in the Indian E&E industry that meet international standards?

Vertical transportation codes that are being followed by the Indian Elevator & Escalator (E&E) Industry are being relooked at by the Bureau of Indian Standards as they have been followed for decades now.

Fujitec is the only Japanese manufacturer on the BIS board and the P4 committee to be a part of the change. The committee is working towards upgrading the IS codes for elevators to global standards. This will help in improving the safety standards of elevators manufactured in India and also make the manufacturing competitive, such that Indian companies can be well-equipped to supply to global markets.

What are the technical attributes and the salient features of Fujitec Elevators that give the products an edge over competing brands?

We, at Fujitec, always ensure that our customers get products that have the latest technology and advanced features. Our Smart elevator range, which is supplied to residential and low-rise commercial segments, is packed with features similar to what we provide in our premium range.

We believe in delivering the best technology to all segments of the Indian market. The technology and service processes have matured to suit the Indian requirements due to which the call back of our equipment is less than 0.5 CPUA – this translates to less than one call back per lift per year (including all other types of calls).

Fujitec India Tapping Opportunities in India’s Growing Vertical Transportation Needs

Many elevator companies are now offering aesthetics, smooth functionality, airy and hygienic cabins. How is Fujitec enhancing its user experience?

Fujitec has been at the forefront of elevator technology and design with features that enhance user experience. For instance, Fujitec’s ‘IONFUL’ is a clean air technology that enables clean air inside the elevator cabin. It is in big demand in hospitals and public buildings, and, due to the pandemic, we have been retrofitting our elevators installed in commercial and public buildings with this technology. For escalators, we have a handrail sanitization system.

Our contact-less call registration system with APP technology and sensor type buttons are also in demand in the vertical transportation industry.

Since many users feel claustrophobic in elevator cabins, we are offering cabins with a larger volume in the same floor space with a taller cabin ceiling and door height and a bright ceiling design. We also provide elevators with glass on the doors and cabin walls so that users feel more comfortable. LCD screens inside the lift cars running live news and videos can also be provided to keep the users occupied. However, such features in our elevators will depend on the builder and the project’s budget.

India is rich in culture and tradition but lags behind in the safety culture. Every year, we are witnessing so many fatalities due to elevator or escalator accidents. How does Fujitec look on safety aspects and ensure timely maintenance and upkeep of its lifts?

Though the E&E industry has been modernizing and adapting to current demands, there are still some areas in which the Government needs to take a firmer stand and implement strict safety norms. Fujitec is doing its bit by providing elevator solutions with the latest auto door technology and is not catering to the manual door segment.

Our elevators come with a standard feature called the ‘Health Check Operation’ which ensures that the elevator is checked and ready for the next day’s use. Each Fujitec elevator has a provision to add on a remote monitor with which the elevator can be monitored with an AI system, which also does predictive/preventive detection of a fault and intimates the service team to take corrective measures.

Our standard maintenance process is also done using handheld devices and laptops that are provided to each service personnel to check and take preventive measures for elevators that are not connected to the remote network.

Our customers have also been provided with Fujitec Connect - an App-based service facility that ensures that they remain connected to their elevators and track all service-related activities and reports. Fujitec Connect also facilitates immediate registration of calls by the maintenance teams, rather than calling the toll-free number to register the call.

What are Fujitec’s project management and skill development program and what consultancy services for installation are being offered along with the products?

Our site team interacts with the customer in planning and in the site coordination activities. The most important part of the management process is the manpower management. We follow a balanced approach of using outsourced manpower and in-house fitters who are trained at any of our three training centers in India, where they undergo theoretical and practical training sessions. This helps us in maintaining quality and safety, along with productivity. We have now developed a training program for outsourced fitter teams. All our site teams are connected in real time and at various levels to ensure that the project progresses as per customer requirements.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in procuring Made in India components?

The Government had released a slew of policies like the Make in India policy, which bolstered our plans of expanding our presence in India. We were the first Japanese company to set up an elevator manufacturing facility in India. GST has streamlined a lot of our taxation issues.

Though we have started manufacturing in India, most of our components are still being imported. We are continuously looking for qualified vendors and components, in fact, we see a lot of opportunity from local and MNC component suppliers setting up shop in India to cater to our requirements.

Demand for escalators and travellators at airports, metro stations etc will remain strong for the next few years. What are Fujitec’s plans to cater to the infra sector of India?

We see a huge requirement and push by the Government in infrastructure projects. Due to our vast experience in completing such projects globally, we are being called to participate in tenders and are looking forward to entering India’s infrastructure space in a big way.

Pricing has always been a challenge in the E&E industry. What is your take on the pricing aspect in the current economy of India?

This is an industry that has been seeing a reducing trend of unit sales price of products. Companies have been using technological advancements and improving efficiencies to manage this price trend. The effects of inflation this year and with the steel prices going up, our costs have been impacted drastically. On the upside, our customers continue to value our product performance and our after-sales services, and their purchase decision is based on this.
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