Manish Mehan, CEO, TK Elevator India
Manish Mehan, CEO, TK Elevator India, discusses improvements in elevator safety, comfort, speed, space efficiency, and performance, and the challenges and opportunities in meeting India’s vertical transportation requirements.

What does the new name ‘TK Elevator India’ signify and how will it take the legacy of thyssenkrupp ahead?

The new TKE brand reflects the company’s commitment to provide smart and seamless mobility solutions. Designed to work effortlessly across all digital and physical channels, the new brand identity, with its vibrant color palette, typography, and the logo - signals motion, positivity, and speed. It better reflects our strong legacy of achievement and underscores our goal as a people-centric service and a forerunner in digital solutions.

How has the change in ownership impacted the company’s work culture, administration, market positioning, expansion plans, etc?

The new brand name follows the company’s successful transformation into a stand-alone entity – underscoring its leading role in next-generation mobility solutions. Together with the new owners as strategic and financial partners, TK Elevator is able to continue with its ambitious plans to further expand its strong market positioning and technology leadership.

With operations worldwide and more than 50,000 employees, TK Elevator builds on the successful legacy of thyssenkrupp Elevator with sales of around €8 billion in FY 2019/2020. The most important TK Elevator business line will continue to be the service business, which currently maintains around 1.4 million elevator and escalator units with the help of 24,000 service technicians, globally.

TK Elevator India Winning with Technology

How is elevatoring modernizing in India’s high-rise constructions?

As rapid urbanization and industrialization have increased, people prefer to live in towns and cities. But with the sky-high prices of land in cities, the only way to increase living space is to build higher. The dominance of skyscrapers across metro cities has led to the elevator marketplace witnessing a boom in recent years. The lifts need to transport a higher number of people at faster speeds while remaining safe and efficient. To achieve these objectives, high-speed, technologically advanced lifts have replaced traditional lifts in housing societies. While many commercial and retail establishments already have high-speed lifts, their usage in residential projects is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Given that the elevator core forms the building’s load-bearing structure, and that such factors are determined early in the design process, the right choices have to be made first time round. There are few opportunities to correct mistakes later. This demands logistical and elevator planning insight, extensive expertise and experience, and the application of correct safety margins. Which is why, builders, architects and elevator manufacturers need to work together to develop vertical transportation systems that are attuned with the building design, are operationally safe and efficient.

A well-engineered design will take into consideration occupancy level of the building, elevator cabin capacity, factor in waiting times, cost-effectiveness, energy consumption, and consider ways to optimize space in the building. It is the improvements in elevator safety, comfort, speed, quality, space efficiency, and performance that have become challenges as well as opportunities in vertical transportation. There should be safer and faster solutions for access and destination control, information communication, and equipment monitoring.

Given the number of accidents due to elevator / escalator malfunctioning, is the E&E industry being lax on safety by compromising on their design, components, installation, operation, and maintenance?

There is a growing need for developers, architects, and elevator suppliers/manufacturers to focus on the critical aspects of design, installation, and maintenance of elevators. We have noticed, that in our country, elevators are not given their due importance, which leads to deployment of unsafe and inefficient elevators and their poor maintenance. The low rise, low-end segment is the biggest sufferer of this mentality, which should change as the elevator is no longer a luxury but a necessity and the lifeline of any building.

The rapid and safe transport of people in growing urban structures is one of the great challenges of the future. Hence, convenient and time-efficient transport cannot be achieved without intelligent elevators, travellators and escalators.

With safety a major concern, how does TKE ensure timely maintenance and upkeep of its elevators?

Our aim is to have zero accidents in the field as well as in our manufacturing processes. All our employees are trained on safety parameters and safety drills are conducted at customer sites to sensitize and educate them on safety measures. Plus, our products have a host of built-in safety features. Having said that, we have high safety guidelines in all steps of the value chain, including R&D, operation, manufacturing, and installation. We adhere to all the required set of compliances and work in the direction of absolute transparency.

Our service team brings smarter, more systematic, and stress-free maintenance service to customers. We have also digitised our after-sales service business, with each of our technicians being connected to the office by smart tablets that enables them to service the elevators and escalators with greater efficiency, better response time, and thus have minimum MTBF (mean time before failure). With the help of smart tablets, they can access routes, manuals, technical data banks, and get expert advice from remote locations.

We have rolled out ‘Predictive Maintenance’ for some of our major customers by which means the critical parts / components of the elevator / escalator are directly replaced from the units on attaining its life period, irrespective of its malfunctioning or proper functioning. We have extended a special service to our major projects by which the customer has direct access to the health status of their equipment with real time technical information by logging on our website portal. We have also launched a mobile app that provides customers with their complaint status and closure update.

Last but not the least, is our MAX - the elevator industry’s first real-time, cloud-based predictive maintenance solution – set to enhance elevator availability, reliability and efficiency. This smart, machine learning IoT solution, increases elevator availability by reducing out-of-service situations through real-time diagnostics; predicts maintenance issues before they occur; and empowers elevator engineers by flagging the need to replace components and systems before the end of their lifecycle.

TK Elevator has about 100,000 elevators in the U.S. alone connected to the cloud, where sensors transmit maintenance data like acceleration, vibration, acoustics, and frequency. Software in the elevators uses sensor data to flag immediate breakdowns, while the company’s cloud uses artificial intelligence to predict problems like broken doors.

What should be the minimum/mandatory safety codes and quality standards for the Indian E&E Industry that meet international standards?

One of the most pressing issues is regulating the discrepancies across the country. Each state has a different agency regulating the segment. A national-level body for regulation and policy is needed. Almost two-thirds of the country is still not covered with any legislation governing the installation and maintenance of lifts. The industry players say that a uniform Lift Act can not only help in improving product safety by using new technologies but also support in optimizing development, manufacturing, and installation costs.

How will TKE’s newly launched warehouse in Chakan, Pune, serve the clients and industry better?

Our new, 10,000 sq. ft., Indian Technological Warehouse will further improve services for our customers operating in domestic and neighboring countries. With this new project, TK Elevator India aims to reduce the environmental impact and promote a more sustainable supply chain. It will promote interoperability and efficiency by eliminating unnecessary journeys for the shipment of components.

As a single management and storage point, it will maintain availability of all spare parts for their operators, optimizing their logistics through analysis and processing of data collected in real time. It will stock over 5,000 different parts and components for maintenance service, and have the capacity to handle more than 10,000 orders per year.

The warehouse is an effective solution to minimize downtime of defunct elevators by ensuring round-the-clock availability of spare parts. As a result, there is a 10% saving per year in the number of trips made by technicians to pick up components, and a 20% optimization in waiting time for the customer until the elevator is put back into service.

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

Requirement of skilled labor, ease of doing business, good infrastructure and low manufacturing costs are some basic challenges for the success of the Make in India campaign. The US-China trade war is causing major adjustments in global value chains and firms are scouring alternative locations for operations. Even before the trade war began, China’s image as a low-cost location for final assembly of industrial products was rapidly changing due to labour shortages and increase in wages.

These developments present India an unprecedented opportunity to chart a similar export trajectory as that pursued by China and create unparalleled job opportunities for the youth, especially in labour-intensive sectors.

TK Elevator India Winning with Technology

What does TKE’s project management and skill development programs entail and the consultancy services it offers during installation of its products?

Our experience in India and globally shows that having a well-trained and experienced execution team on the project site, with whom the customers can collaborate with and jointly take quick decisions, ensures a project well implemented and delivered, and within the agreed cost, time, resources, and quality.

In line with this, we have a seed campus at our Multi-Purpose Facility (MPF) in Chakan, wherein we train our technicians and related business partners, round the year, on project installation and our project supervisors and managers on project management. Modern and safe methods like scaffold-less installations are done which are more efficient and save time and costs. To facilitate quick and correct decisions in the field, our project managers are equipped with smart tabs and tools like OPMO.

Commendation letters received from large projects like DIAL and BIAL etc. are testimonies of our efficient project implementation.

Pricing has always been a challenge in E&E industry. How do you look on this aspect in India’s current economy?

India certainly is a price sensitive market. Our focus is on differentiating ourselves by offering better engineered and reliable elevators at optimal price levels, with shorter delivery cycles, as well as easy adaptability and interface to future design changes.

What are the technical attributes and add-on features in TKE products that enhance passenger experience and give the brand a competitive edge?

TK Elevator aims to be at the forefront of innovative mobility solutions tailored for rapidly developing urban areas. TK Elevator worldwide invests significant resources in R&D to provide the latest equipment with higher efficiency, lower maintenance, and the least emissions. The company has pioneered a significant advancement in elevator technology by introducing the following:
  • MULTI - the world’s first rope-free elevator that moves multiple cars in a single shaft vertically and horizontally and reduces elevators’ footprint by up to 50% while increasing passenger throughput. With its rope-free system, architects and developers are no longer restricted in their designs by concerns about elevator shaft height and vertical alignment as MULTI opens the door to design possibilities in all directions.
  • The TWIN elevator system consists of two cabs that operate in the same shaft, independent of each other. Both cabs operate under the same intelligent group control system and are equipped with an innovative quadruple redundancy safety system. It uses less energy while transporting up to 40% more passengers than conventional elevators.
  • MAX is a predictive and pre-emptive service solution that extends remote monitoring capabilities to increase availability of existing and new elevators. Utilizing the power of Microsoft Azure Internet of Things, MAX makes it possible for an elevator to “tell” service technicians its real needs, including real-time identification of repairs, component replacements, and proactive system maintenance.
  • ACCEL is a unique transportation system that offers high capacities and high speeds for short distances, with no waiting time for passengers, and low implementation costs. Passengers step onto the ACCEL at normal walking speeds, accelerate smoothly up to 7.2 km/h, or even 12 km/h for passengers who continue walking on the pallet band, and then decelerate to normal speed when leaving the system. The system generates time savings of 70%.

How is TKE catering to demand from infrastructure projects like metro stations, airports, etc?

India is witnessing rapid investment by both government and private institutes on large-scale metro projects, especially in tier-1 and 2 cities, to provide effective transport to their consumers, which can be considered the primary growth of the elevator escalator market.

The continuous development of new metro projects, airports, and smart cities has increased the demand for elevators and escalators. As air traffic and passenger volumes increase, reliable elevators are more important than ever to ensure efficient and stress-free airport mobility for travellers.

Our Tugela and Victoria are powerhouse escalators, specially developed to cater to heavy-duty traffic at airports, and also offer trend-setting designs for stylish airport interiors. Our moving walks give convenience, comfort and safety to users whether pushing a stroller or carting luggage, and significantly shorten the time it takes to cover long stretches in airports. They also optimize capacity and valuable space in airports. Our accelerated, next generation moving walk ACCEL is as mentioned before.

A central feature of modern airports, boarding bridges are also a passenger’s first and last point of airport contact. Our project-tailored passenger boarding bridges boost boarding efficiency, convenience, and safety. Our portfolio includes solutions from the largest commercial aircrafts to propeller and regional jets. We customize each bridge to fit the airport’s unique environment. For smaller airports, a special ‘low rider’ solution lets passengers board directly from the ground-level terminal. At A380 gates, our flexible bridges service both decks of the airliner as well as a whole range of other aircrafts. We have installed A380 bridges at over 40 airports worldwide.

As global air traffic continues to rise, our advanced docking guidance system A-VDGS provides an integral solution for safe, smooth and efficient arrivals and departures. Some of its key features are long-range azimuth guidance right from the taxiway, operating range of more than 200 meters, and automatic activation.

Last but not the least, we provide dedicated and tailored platform lifts to enhance people’s mobility in both private and public settings. At airports such as Milan’s Linate Airport, our easy-to-use platform lifts provide people with limited mobility independent access within the airport. Compact and unobtrusive; easily adapted to all architectural requirements; an ergonomic design with superior safety and comfort, are some of the benefits.
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