Businesses and communities are working to find solutions that can be integrated flexibly, sustainably, and aesthetically into the modern urban setup to provide a better quality of life wherein smart vertical mobility is an essential part. Giants, with smart and sustainable solutions, are trying their best to further innovate and be a part of this rapidly changing contour of smartness – reports Syed E. Hasan.
Rapid urbanisation is the mother of today's smart innovation, and smart mobility is no wonder. Not only India but the whole world is on the verge of urban population explosion. According to United Nation, the world's urban population will increase from around 3.92 billion in 2015 to 6.25 billion in 2050, indicating an increase of nearly 60%. To accommodate such massive swing from rural to urban, the need is to develop spaces that are smart and sustainable, and smart cities are nothing but the only possible outcome to fight out the problems associated with this rurban shift. These cities, as per definition, can source and interconnect the best solutions for sustainable energy and space utilization; and can offer a great place to live and work despite rising population densities, and most importantly, smart vertical mobility within the web of buildings.
Agrees, Mr. Amit Gossain, MD, Kone Elevators, when he says, "India is definitely into a phase of rapid urbanisation and it is not surprising that the demand for taller, better, and sophisticated buildings is going up. 90% of the world's urban population growth will take place in developing countries, with India taking a significant share of that. As land is becoming scarce and cities are getting dense, the shift to vertical cities is happening. We need many more homes, hotels, hospitals, malls, airports, and metros and I am sure that the elevator and escalator market is only going to grow."
People are moving to cities every single day, driving the need for excessive housing and infrastructure. "It is for this reason that we need to plan our urban areas well in advance so as to develop smart cities. Needless to say that the elevator industry would play an important role in supporting that growth, making it essential to bring forth smart & eco-efficient vertical mobility solutions for better energy-efficiency and smoother vertical traffic. There's no reason why we can't dramatically improve the livability and creativity of cities. There would be a need for further reduction of carbon footprint and construction of intelligent buildings with smoother people flow," reiterates Mr. Gossain.
Reinforcing it further, Mr. Rajnish Ramu, VP–Marketing with ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) Pvt. Ltd., says, "Urbanisation is one of the mega trends unfolding in India. Under this, the four main trends are: development of mega cities, mega regions, mega corridors, and mega slums. India is expected to have 25 mega cities–each accommodating a population of over eight million, and four mega regions–each obliging more than 15 million people by 2025. Together these would give a strong impetus to country's elevators market. As urbanisation drives the increased need for housing and infrastructure, the elevator industry will play an important role in supporting that growth."
Notably, these factors, especially the call for 'smart cities' have put the country's elevator industry on a growth trajectory that helps it outperform despite the ongoing slowdown in almost every sector since last couple of years. There is no denying of the fact that India is the second-largest elevator market after China, with more than 55,000 elevators being sold every year. The current growth rate of 10-12% is expected to increase further, driven mainly by the residential segment on the back of activities and initiatives in Tier 2 & 3 cities.
Mr. Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India believes that opportunities all-round are in abundance. "As of now, residential real estate is the highest revenue-generating segment for the country's elevators industry. Elevators continue to witness growing penetration in mid-rise and high-rise buildings in the residential sector. The commercial sector is also a significant factor given the urbanisation trend that we see across India. This apart, infrastructural development presents a great opportunity with the new government's initiative to build 100 smart cities. The commitment towards speeding up the pace of urbanisation by investing in smart cities, ports, metros, and airports will provide immense growth to the elevator segment," he says.
Echoing the same sentiments, Mr. Antony Parokaran–CEO with Schindler India, says, "The growth of the real estate infrastructure market has been steady, over the past few years, which is likely to get even stronger in time to come, with focus on 'housing for all'. We are also seeing a shift from elevators with manual doors to those with automatic ones, owing to the emphasis being placed by the market on factors like safety, reliability, and energy-efficiency. This trend will only gain momentum in the near future. Besides, major infrastructure projects constitute another prominent area of development." He further notes that Schindler has been a partner in several prestigious ventures including the new Mumbai International Airport Terminal 2, the Chennai airport, the Kolkata airport, as well as the Mumbai and Bengaluru metros.
Mr. Ramu of ThyssenKrupp India points out other factors, providing impetus to the country's elevators' market. "In recent times, the elevator has evolved from being a luxury item serving a small proportion of the urban population to a more functional and efficient means of mobilising people in general, wherein safety and energy-efficiency have taken center stage. There is a growing demand for high-speed, high-capacity elevators that can carry many passengers at once, safely and comfortably, particularly in high-rise office buildings, commercial complexes, and other large-scale facilities," he suggests, adding that the smart cities drive would further increase in demand for smart mobility solutions in India, for which we are perfectly poised to support owing to our expertise and long-standing presence in India.
According to Mr. D. Moudgil, Advisor to Gilco Global Pvt. Ltd., the initiative of the Indian government in the form of smart cities has been a great step towards overall modernisation of cities and its infrastructure. "Unlike earlier, when elevators were considered luxury, today's growing number of multi-stroyed buildings to accommodate the expected outburst of population has made these provisions of mobility solutions an essential part of the setup–be it the elevators for residential sector or hydraulic platforms for industrial sector. We are observing that even for low-rise apartments, clients are looking forward to elevators so as to improvise the movement especially of senior citizen," says Mr. Moudgil adding that elevators have become more affordable than a decade ago.
Mr. D. Moudgil, erstwhile Director (Projects) with Engineers India Ltd–a Navratna Government of India Enterprise, has of late joined the Advisory Board of Gilco Global, the metal fabrication major. In order to mark its entry into the country's burgeoning elevators market, Gilco Global has recently joined hands with the Spanish elevator giant Orona S. Co op. The tie-up is going well as the duo has successfully bagged quite a few big contracts with some elevators in installation stage, currently.
It is worth mentioning that technology has changed a lot, and a lot more are in waiting with further change in technology. Advanced technologies and energy-efficiency are the two most important components when it comes to choosing vertical mobility solution for smart cities. "We at, Otis, recognise the opportunity right in time that India presents. The Indian government's Smart City initiative will fuel the need for smart and efficient technologies to support the targeted urban growth. Otis' flagship technology, the Gen2™ elevator, caters well to the need for vertical transportation that is sustainable and smart," says Mr. Joseph.
To meet the projected demand, Otis has recently tripled the size of its Bengaluru factory, which is also gearing up to offer higher speed elevators on Otis' global flagship technology platform–Gen2. "We are committed to our customers here, and are striving to manufacture quality products to perfectly meet India's unique needs. We have recently introduced the Gen2 Infinity, manufactured at our Bengaluru factory. This is a high-speed (1.75 m/s) passenger elevator, and will cater to the mid-rise residential buildings, which are fast becoming a common feature across Tier 1 and 2 cities in the country, today," he informs adding that Otis has sold more than 4,30,000 Gen2 elevators worldwide since its launch. "The reason for this tremendous success is that developers and building owners alike recognize the value of sustainable buildings and are aiming for green certifications like Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). The Gen2 elevator system and ReGen regenerative drive technology are an energy-efficient addition to green buildings," he avers.
According to Mr. Joseph, Otis' Gen2®family leverages its flat and a compact permanent-magnet gearless machine to deliver outstanding performance, reliability, and design flexibility. Some of the key components of the Gen2® range are polyurethane-coated steel belts, ReGen™ regenerative drive, permanent magnet machine, and PULSE™ monitoring system. The long-lasting belts, smooth crowned sheaves, and reduction of moving parts in the machine dramatically reduce wear, increase durability, and considerably minimise operational noise.
Delineating the attributes further, he reiterates that Gen2 system replaces conventional steel ropes with smooth, polyurethane-coated steel belts, which are up to 20% lighter. Since the belts are highly flexible, they have a much smaller bending radius, resulting in a compact machine that is up to 70% smaller than a conventional machine. The system also features ReGen™–the regenerative drive–which, when combined with the Gen2 belts, reduces energy consumption by up to 75% compared to conventional systems with non-regenerative drives. The ReGen drive captures energy generated by the elevator and feeds it back into the building's grid, where it can be used by other building systems connected to the same network. The PULSE™ system monitors the belts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing greater safety and peace of mind through its immediate, automatic reporting of belt status.
According to Mr. Ramu, the residential segment accounts for a larger share (85%) of the elevator industry. "Over the couple of years, we've observed that the growth impetus in the Tier 2, 3, and 4 cities has been exciting. We have the specific products that meet the mobility requirements of these cities. For low-rises, we have been working continuously on developing a range of indigenous solutions that are specifically designed for, and targeted at this segment. For instance, Synergy500 is designed to address the needs of low-rise buildings, bringing dual benefits of safety & reliability. It offers a host of standard safety features by adopting global best practices. We are committed to keeping people moving safely and reliably in any of such buildings," he asserts.
Mr. Moudgil appreciates the rising consumer awareness together with the increasing consciousness on human safety is bringing huge potential in this segment. "While cost is definitely a consideration but the trade-off for the same cannot be the safety and engineering standards, which we maintain. Our endeavour will be to convince our prospective buyers on these aspects, which will definitely provide us an edge. We understand that we are a premium product, but are also trying our best to push ourselves in this segment. We, at Gilco Orona, have developed and are optimising the zero-energy elevators. Based on energy-efficiency and accessibility, our Net0Lift has been aimed to achieve zero-energy elevation systems, which are safer, accessible, user-friendly, and more intelligent & interconnected with the outside world. We are confident that with all these at hand, Gilco Orona will soon dominate this segment also."
Taking concern of the scarce energy resources, KONE also has made significant reductions in energy consumption in its products over the years. Mr. Gossain assures that KONE is focused on incorporating advanced technology & energy-efficiency in to its elevators. "Planning people flow solutions for densely populated urban environments requires skill and expertise and that is where our talented teams come into the picture. From decongesting a crowded city like Mumbai, to improving the quality of life in a smart city like Gujarat, our work is integral to the process of urbanisation. Our People Flow Intelligence solutions, Destination Control systems etc. are designed to meet these demands. They can be adapted according to the changing needs which enable efficient building management."
Recently, KONE India has launched elevators for mid-rise residential segment. "Our KONE I MiniSpace™ is aimed at catering to the needs of low and mid-rise residential segment of housing. This is based on KONE's Eco-Disc technology that paved the way for gearless technology. This is significantly more energy-efficient than the preceding technology thus helps in reducing both operating costs and the building carbon footprint," says Mr. Gossain adding that earlier this year, the company had launched a product specific to low-rise residential segment called KONE I MonoSpace® and KONE I MiniSpace™. "Through these new products i.e. KONE I MonoSpace® and KONE I MiniSpace™, we are hoping to garner a larger share of the burgeoning residential segment."
Another major player in the segment, Schindler is staggering high on its recently launched Schindler 5500, which takes configurability to a new level. "Schindler 5500 has been highly appreciated by the construction, architectural, and design fraternity alike as it uniquely combines performance, flexibility, and design, which makes it easy to be compatible with the requirements of commercial as well as mid & high-end residential buildings," says Mr. Parokaran adding that Schindler has a track-record of introducing innovative products. "Our machine-room-less and gearless elevators–Schindler 3100IN and Schindler 3300IN–have been widely accepted by our valuable customers. These elevators offer greater flexibility to design buildings, and also save costs, time, and most importantly, the space that would be needed to build machine rooms."
Mr. Parokaran further elucidates that Schindler is also the pioneers in Destination Control Systems. "Miconic-10, a revolutionary traffic-handling concept that brings passengers to their destinations sooner, with less crowding and more comfort, has eliminated the need to have traditional pushbuttons inside the elevator cars. Our next generation of the Destination Control System–PORT (Personal Occupant Requirement Terminal)–makes use of state-of-the-art software to integrate traffic management. It comprises a host of effective access, communication, security, and energy-saving features; which can revolutionize the way people move through buildings, seamlessly," he asserts.
From ThyssenKrupp bouquet, the latest innovative introductions are MULTI and TWIN. "MULTI is the world's first rope-free elevator system. After announcing this revolutionary concept in 2014, we recently premiered a fully-functional 1:3 scale model of MULTI at our Innovation Center in Gijón, Spain. Without the use of cables, MULTI runs on a multi-level brake system and inductive power which transfers from shaft to cabin. This allows the system to occupy smaller shafts than conventional elevators, which can increase a building's usable area by up to 25%. Operating on the basic premise of a circular system, such as a paternoster, MULTI consists of various cabins running in a loop at a targeted speed of 5 m/s, enabling passengers to have near-constant access to an elevator cabin every 15 to 30 seconds, with a transfer stop every 50 meters. In MULTI, several cabins in the same shaft moving vertically and horizontally will permit buildings to adopt different heights, shapes, and purposes," elaborates Mr. Ramu adding that the first MULTI unit will be in tests by 2016.
As the name suggests the TWIN elevator system has two cabs, arranged on top of each other, that operate independently in one hoistway. Both cabs operate under the same intelligent group control system and are equipped with an innovative quadruple redundancy safety system, including anti-collision routing and automatic monitoring of minimum safety distances to keep the two cabs a safe distance apart at all times. "Such a unique technology helps in reducing the footprint of the elevator core and optimising the core space. Fast and energy-efficient, TWIN comes equipped with intelligent traffic control systems, which optimise traffic automatically and reduce empty runs. With all these innovative solutions, ThyssenKrupp is committed to developing sustainable, eco-friendly products & solutions, which are highly energy-efficient meant for reliable performance over the long run," notes Mr. Ramu who believes that ThyssenKrupp has always been on the forefront when it comes to contributing to the elevator technology.
No doubt that the country's elevator market is bursting at seams with incessant potentials coming from the residential segment comprising the low-rise buildings. But at the same time, a web of high-rise buildings is expected soon to hit the floor following the smart cities' drive across the nation making it mandatory for the able manufacturers to bring forth vertical mobility solutions that can make most efficient use of the space and energy resources so as to make available an attractive and clean place to live in. Quite a few players have sensed these opportunities well in advance, while many are still settling themselves to take on the call for smart solutions meant to meet the objectives set by smart cities, besides feeding requirements of low-rise buildings, especially in the rapidly emerging Tier 2 & 3 cities.