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KONE Unveils UltraRope, a New Product Designed to Reach New Heights

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This new product enables elevator travel to reach at least 1 km.

KONE unveiled its new UltraRope™ amid much fanfare in the shadow of London’s tallest building during the 2013 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) conference in June. More than nine years in the making, UltraRope™ increases the height elevators can go – up to 1 km and possibly even higher.

Antony Wood, CTBUH executive director, said a major building trend is that structures are increasing in height at a rapid pace. For example, he pointed out that construction of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010 represents a 320-m, or 63%, increase over Taipei 101’s height, 829.8 m. There is also an increase in the number of tall (200 m), supertall (300 m) and megatall (600 m) buildings, he said. The number of tall buildings, for example, jumped from fewer than 50 in 2008 to 82 in 2011.

Changing social demographics could drive the trend toward tall in some areas, Wood said. People in the Far and Middle East are not inhibited about living in high towers, he continued. Further, he said, one million people each week are being born or moving into urban areas, essentially meaning a “new city is required each week” to accommodate them. Many of the new tall, supertall and megatall buildings are still primarily office space, he said, but an increasing amount of space is mixed use, including residential.

The UltraRope unveiling was held at Vinopolis under the railway arches of the London Bridge and within view of the 72-story skyscraper The Shard on June 10. The entire auditorium was bathed in blue light, the KONE corporate color, which created an aura of mystery and a buzz of anticipation. About 30 media professionals, as well as key international executives, attended.

KONE President and CEO Matti Alahuhta provided an overview of the company’s business, what role high-rise projects play in its portfolio and where these projects are being built.

KONE Head of Technology Johannes de Jong, meanwhile, described UltraRope as a “real leap forward in technology” that provides numerous advantages. UltraRope, de Jong explained, was developed  and tested over nine years. The final result, he said, is rope that is not restricted by weight and size like those made of steel. Besides having remarkable climbing ability, de Jong said, UltraRope reduces energy consumption and doubles life expectancy of lift suspension rope. In lieu of steel, UltraRope consists of 2.5-cm-wide by

0.5-cm-thick carbon-fiber belts embedded in epoxy resin with a high-friction surface.

To cap off the event, attendees were invited to see and touch the new product. Observers said lift specialists will be interested to know UltraRope is very light, and that everyone was surprised by its rigidity. In addition to Alahuhta and de Jong, KONE members at the global launch of UltraRope included Hannu Lehtinen, Project Manager of Elevator Level project; Antti Ikonen, Project Manager of UltraRope; and Giuseppe Bilardello, senior vice president of Technology and R&D.

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