Thyssenkrupp Elevator's CEO Andreas Schierenbeck discusses how lift know-how is set not just to revolutionise the industry, but also to support global urbanisation and improve the quality of life for everyone in cities.
3 December 2015 | By Andreas Schierenbeck
In the 21st century city life is booming, quite literally. Just over half the world's population now live in urban areas, and this is predicted to rise to around 70 per cent by the end of the century.
Although this urban buzz is positive for economic growth, the rapid influx of people to cities is putting unprecedented pressure on our built landscape.
Floor space is becoming more limited, forcing city planners and building developers to build upwards and create buildings of ever-increasing heights.
The world's tallest building is currently the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, a mighty 2,717 feet. And this is almost 63 per cent taller than Taiwan's Taipei 101 tower, which at 1,670 feet was the world's tallest building just 10 years ago. As our city structures reach ever-loftier heights the need for reliable and efficient building services to keep these buildings running and people moving effectively has never been more important.
Time is money
The impact of inefficient buildings is felt most strongly in wasted time and - in economic terms - money. Time has become a more valuable commodity than ever been before. According to a recent report, for office workers, just 49 minutes of wasted time each day equates to a massive £26 billion loss to the UK economy over the year.
The internet has revolutionised the way we live our lives and - accompanied by ever-advancing developments in the field of technology - has established a global culture of convenience that has made immediacy not just a possibility, but an expectation in almost every aspect of our daily routines. In this digital era there is an urgent need for businesses to harness the power of the internet and data-based solutions to keep our buildings - and wider cities - operating in the most efficient and sustainable way possible.
Waiting for a lift
One of the biggest threats to time efficiency is, interestingly, one of the most integral yet overlooked services in our buildings - the lift, or elevator.
There are more than 12 million lifts in operation globally and the impact when they don't run as intended is significant.
A study undertaken by Columbia University students found that in 2010 alone, New York City office workers spent a cumulative 16.6 years waiting for lifts to transport them around buildings. These redundant hours can not only trigger detrimental health and emotional effects, such as increased stress and anxiety levels, but also significantly affect the operational performance of the businesses they work for, and the cities in which they are located.
With more than a billion lift journeys being made across the world in a single day, finding a means of increasing the availability and efficiency of these lifts is an urgent priority - both to support engineers across the world who are called out to maintain and repair them, and to give city buildings - and the people and businesses inside them - the best potential for optimum productivity.
A particular area in which data can provide valuable insights in our buildings and cities is maintenance. By tapping into the power of big data and cloud computing, millions of details can be collected in real-time on lift components, life cycles and use patterns to better understand and predict incidences when the lift is likely to fail - and therefore stop this happening. This should make getting stuck in a lift a thing of the past and provide invaluable support for the service engineers who are charged with keeping our lifts running as intended.
As data is fed through the cloud, advanced algorithms can be charged to provide a comprehensive translation of the numbers into meaningful insights. Pre-emptive repair notifications are then sent to a service engineer, who is able to fix any problems before they happen to minimise disruption.
This method can transform what has long been a reactive process of providing assistance in response to an lift issue, in to a pre-emptive method in which engineers are empowered to identify potential issues in advance. Importantly, data-driven methodology is doing even more than improving building efficiency. It is also providing an opportunity for service engineers to change the relationship they have with building developers and front-of-house staff; making their interactions positive and positioning the service engineers as proactive problem solvers.
Although using data to support original thinking and predict future events is not a new phenomenon, in the lift industry it has the power to revolutionise the way in which our buildings - and cities - operate. And using data in this way is a completely logical and natural progression, given the amount we have access to at any one time. In fact, the number is so vast it is almost unquantifiable - according to IBM, in 2012, 2.5 exabytes, equivalent to 2.5 billion gigabytes, of data were generated every day.
In the lift / elevator industry, a system that is able to interpret building data into meaningful information to improve service is unique, and marks a milestone turning point in the future direction of building trends.
Andreas Schierenbeck is CEO at Thyssenkrupp Elevator