“The game has changed” – How technology players in the elevator and escalator industry can adapt to digitalisation and stay ahead of the pack

Digitalisation is changing the face of where we live and how we work. Rapid advances in the capabilities of sensors, connectivity, analytics and mobile technologies are redefining many industry sectors, from utilities where the use of smart devices is more and more prevalent right through to the automotive sector, where software-driven diagnostics and virtual reality driven sales techniques are increasingly taking hold. The automotive sector, in particular, has a reputation as a digitalisation trendsetter.

Innovation in the car and automotive industries gave rise to the first mass-scale assembly plants, while LEAN principles with origins in Japan lowered costs and increased efficiency, quality and reliability.

But now, digitalisation presents a major challenge and an opportunity for a wide range of sectors. Trends such as the rise of mobile connectivity, data and machine learning, 3D printing, cloud computing, Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) and the sharing economy have broken down traditional barriers to entry and accelerated the speed of change.

Companies like Tesla, Uber and Google are leading the automotive industry’s digital transformation. How other traditional players adapt to these changes will dictate their role in the future of the car industry.

Today, the pace of change is accelerating. IoT technologies (Internet of Things or ‘Industrial Internet’) are having an impact on entire supply chains, from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) right through to operations on the factory floor.

Big data analytics should help brands and OEMs to make sense of the oceans of data available to make improvements to performance, logistics optimisation, and predictive service and warranty information.

Digitalisation is having an impact other key industry sectors, in particular, those which involve the movement of people. For instance, public transport networks are implementing new ticketing and billing solutions and real-time GPS tracking to improve efficiency. The automotive industry may be setting the pace but adapting digital solutions that make the people flow experience smoother for everyone is going to be a reality going forward. That means changes in the elevator and escalator industry are happening now.

Five components of digitalisation

To deliver transformative digitalisation that improves the customer experience, technology providers across the elevator and escalator industry need to understand everything from the use of sensors, to the optimal use of data storage and data analytics, and bringing everything together, in tandem with customer insights, as part of a complete offering.   

 

The first piece of the digitalisation jigsaw is being able to make equipment more intelligent and accessible through the use of sensors and analytics. These sensors can be connected to elevators today, in order to provide real-time monitoring of performance. The second key element is connectivity.  The latest advances in mobile and analytics technology make remote diagnostics possible. Service companies today typically inspect thousands of elevators several times every year.

 

The ability to access each of these remotely to assess their functionality, or even better get each to proactively report on their status and highlight potential issues helps streamline the inspection process.  We are already seeing the emergence of internet-connected elevators and escalators that enable business owners and facilities managers to monitor the transportation systems in real time to assure they’re running correctly. 

 

The third area is data storage. The advance of cloud computing and the consequent ability for organisations to quickly and easily scale up capacity, together with the low cost of storage as a whole, continues to drive interest and ultimately take-up. Cloud computing is an important enabler for global scalability, meaning organisations can quickly and easily expand capacity. Assuming cloud architecture is built for global reach, when data is stored in the cloud, availability is improved, compared to using dedicated datacentres.

The fourth element of the digitalisation mix, and one which is rapidly growing in importance is analytics. The latest high-powered analytic engines and algorithms enable building owners, facility managers and town and city planners alike to look at parameters and data in more effective ways. Analytics interpret the massive amounts of data and turn it into understandable, visual information, which becomes invaluable for technicians and customers through online apps and tools.  Analytics can identify and predict issues, minimise downtime and personalise the user experience. 

The final element of this approach can be described as  ‘mobilisation’ which means being able to bring together a combination of the four others, and effectively integrating them into a solution that can be delivered to end-user businesses. If KONE puts all of this into the hands of its field service technicians, it will lead to better services for our customers.

Great expectations

Digitalisation also drives agility. For product and service development, that means shorter and faster processes to bring something to the market quickly, test, feedback, improve and commercialise. This enhanced agility is increasingly critical, of course, if businesses are to deliver a competitive edge today.

Digitalisation is clearly raising service expectations. In this new digital age, users are looking for higher service levels and ongoing improvements in customer engagement and experience. The use of digital methods of engagement helps drive transparency too. There is no hiding place for providers that invoice incorrectly or that miss a service call. It is there on the record for all to see.

In the world of lifts, escalators and people flow solutions just as in the automotive and utility sectors, the businesses that will ultimately succeed will be those that not only understand the new digital landscape and the components of digitalisation, but also have the tools and solutions in place to harness those components and use them to bring real value to their customers.

Antti Koskelin, CIO at KONE
Image Credit: Ditty_about_summer