GLE Expo Sri Lanka 2017

The skyline in Colombo in 2015; photo by Anuradha Dullewe Wijeyeratne.

Elevator/escalator industry looks at Emerald Island expansion at Colombo trade show.

Sri Lanka, the Emerald Island, is a largely pristine yet rapidly developing country with a fast-growing economy. With an emerging building and construction industry supported by brands from across the globe, it is seeing new demand for elevators and escalators to make its buildings competitive with those of the world’s top-tier cities. These factors made Sri Lanka’s capital and largest city, Colombo, the ideal host of the first Global Lift and Escalator (GLE) Expo Sri Lanka, an international vertical-transportation industry event held on February 23-25 at the Sri Lanka Exhibition & Convention Center.

Experts describe Colombo as a fast-developing market where a number of tall buildings are going up. Indeed, there are more than two dozen buildings ranging from 21 to more than 60 stories in Colombo on the drawing boards, along with the 1,150-ft.-tall communications/observation structure Lotus Tower.[1] Its design takes inspiration from the lotus flower and symbolizes Sri Lanka’s flourishing development.[2] With more business complexes, hotels and shopping areas, not to mention ritzier private residences, Colombo’s appetite for vertical transportation looks to increase rapidly over the next few years.

GLE Expo Sri Lanka served as a platform for companies’ expansion in the country and gave a firm base to global brands looking to study market potential. The event was well attended by builders, architects and structural-engineering firms, as well as other construction-industry players and government authorities. It provided an opportunity for participating companies to explore partnerships and joint ventures and collaborate with local builders and manufacturers on providing high-quality elevators, components and supporting technology.

Speaking on the occasion, D.D. Anton of Dipra Engineers Pvt. Ltd. said:

“I thank Virgo Communications for organizing the international expo in Sri Lanka to support industry and enhance business. As the first international expo held in the field of elevators in Sri Lanka. . . we are satisfied with the level of inquiries generated and anticipate a more successful and larger expo in 2019.”

A collaboration of the Indian and Sri Lankan chapters of the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) enhanced the expo. Thanks to this collaboration, there were discussions and seminars on various aspects of tall-building technology that resulted in knowledge-sharing and learning opportunities for visitors and participants.

 Exhibitors showcased elevators and escalators, components and accessories. The expo was an opportunity for elevator- and construction-industry professionals, as well as elevator and escalator component manufacturers, to learn from the experts about the industry and global markets, as well as display their products.  

Anitha Raghunath, director, Virgo Communications and Exhibitions, stated:

“GLE Expo Sri Lanka was our first venture into this new territory, and I can safely say we are very happy with the response. The support we received from visitors, industry and the government was extremely encouraging. With this success, I am glad that we made a start in this market. We are aiming to be one of the reasons for the growth of the vertical-transportation industry in Sri Lanka, bringing in new opportunities for local players, as well as new exposure for global brands.” 

Seminars and panel discussions organized by CTBUH India, CTBUH Sri Lanka and TAK Consulting Pvt. Ltd. about the tall-building industry were highlights of the expo. There were also open-podium discussions with expert panels.

Girish Dravid, director of Sterling Engineering Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. in India and CTBUH India chairman, along with Shiromal Fernando, director of Civil & Structural Engineering Consultants Pvt. Ltd. and CTBUH Sri Lanka chairman, gave a joint presentation titled “Challenges and Relevance: An Overview of India and Sri Lanka.” This was followed by another joint presentation by Professor Priyan Mendis of the University of Melbourne and Anil Hira, director and partner, BuroHappold Engineering (Australia and India) on “Challenges and State-of-the-Art Structural Engineering.”

 Hong Kong-based Bernard Chang of Kohn Pedersen Fox architects spoke on the architecture aspect of high rises in his presentation “Architecture and Tall Buildings: Highlighting the Challenges of Construction and Design.” In the same vein, the challenge of meeting the need for tall buildings to withstand high winds was taken up in “Challenges and Wind Engineering,” a presentation by Dr. Suresh Kumar, director, RWDI Wind Engineering (India).

Among the biggest challenges of building tall, especially for vertical transportation, is the issue of safety. Fire safety is a top concern in the industry, and Peter Stephenson, associate director, BuroHappold (U.A.E.), shared his insights on the issue in “Tall Buildings: Fire, Life and Safety.”

Gautam Bhasin, Inhabit Façade Engineers – Asia manager (Singapore) shared his views on various aspects of building tall in his presentation “Façade Engineering, Architecture and Tall Buildings.”

While these challenges are mainly related to only tall and very tall buildings, the issue of creating and installing elevators that take care of vertical transportation in all buildings is its most critical aspect. TAK Mathews, managing director, TAK Consulting and one of India’s best-known elevator consultants, spoke on these challenges and how to overcome them.

Sri Lanka’s first GLE Expo set the path for much greater involvement of the elevator and construction industries from India and the rest of the world in this emerging market.

[1] wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_structures_in_Sri_Lanka
[2] wikipedia.org/wiki/Colombo_Lotus_Tower
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