In this Industry Dialogue, Manish Mehan (MM), managing director and CEO, TKE India, speaks with your author (SSP) about how digitalization has revolutionized services in the vertical transportation industry, highlighting innovations by his company that contribute to this change.
SSP: How has digitalization changed the role and importance of services in the elevator industry?
MM: I will start with how we at TK Elevator (TKE) see the service business. We see service as an integral part of our commitment to our customers and users, providing them with quality and safe mobility solutions that make their lives easier. It was under such circumstances we introduced MAX. We innovate and leverage the latest technologies to offer better experiences to our customers and users. One of our key service objectives was to keep people moving reliably and safely. By collecting and sending real-time data from connected units to the cloud, MAX uses algorithms to calculate the remaining lifetime of each elevator’s key components and systems to determine which parts require maintenance, and when. This data-driven maintenance technology can reduce downtime by up to 50%.
With the help of digital solutions like MAX or our AGILE Destination Control solution, we make elevator and escalator (E&E) units more reliable and better performing for our customers. This means less downtime, shorter queues and more comfortable elevator rides. In many cases, these benefits are translated into higher rental values for commercial properties and upgrade projects. For TKE, service goes hand-in-hand with modernization. Together, they mean more than preventing breakdowns or conducting repairs; they add value for our customers.
SSP: How does digitalization in services work?
MM: When we talk about digitalization E&E services, we mainly refer to our digital solution MAX, which essentially “connects” units and turns them into smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices that make cloud-based predictive maintenance possible. Connecting units offers benefits through real-time diagnostics that include reducing out-of-service situations. MAX predicts maintenance issues before they occur and empowers engineers by flagging instances where components and systems need to be replaced. More precise diagnoses and analysis results in big data collected from TKE machines operated worldwide, which enables us to provide timely and more accurate predictive service to customers’ machines.
SSP: What forces are really driving innovation in elevator services today?
MM: Here at TKE, innovation has always been driven by our understanding of market and customer needs, combined with a shared vision across a competent team of people who are aligned and driven to solve the customer’s problem. For service and modernization, in particular, a lot of our customers manage large numbers of E&E units, and we know they could benefit from an automated and more streamlined service management workflow. With a customer-centric approach, we put in place development roadmaps for our products to gradually turn them into “smart” IoT devices. MAX was the result of our deep understanding of the service market and our research and innovation. In a nutshell, addressing customer needs and our commitment to making lives easier for our customers are the driving forces behind our innovation.
SSP: What has contributed more to the evolution of digital service offerings — 5G or COVID-19?
MM: That’s an easy one. 5G is amazing, but it isn’t yet widespread enough in many parts of the world. COVID-19 has changed the way people live and travel over the past two years, contributing to the evolution of digital services and definitely driving the advancement and adoption of new technologies, given the ubiquitous needs across our customer base. For example, as we learned of the advice to stand 6 ft apart to slow the spread of COVID-19, we began working with customers to help manage social distancing in an elevator. With our Destination Selection Control system, we are able to limit the number of passengers in each elevator ride to four or fewer so they have space in the car to distance themselves from each other. The pandemic also accelerated demand for touchless and remote elevator calls. Various solutions are on the market — some as options on new products and some as aftermarket add-ons.
On the service front, MAX is the ideal solution to minimize human interaction while ensuring elevator engineers have the latest updates on operational conditions of units. Business opportunities also came in the form of retrofitting various touchless call and sanitizing solutions to older elevators to make them better-suited to pandemic times.
SSP: What potentials lie in digitalization to create even more business opportunities through service?
MM: Connectivity is becoming as important as ever. More parts of our lives get “connected” with each passing day. With MAX and thousands of elevators already connected via an IoT platform, the possibilities of future development and opportunities can be limitless. Today, connected elevators offer the convenience of acquiring the operational health of elevators remotely and instantly. They also enable our customers and service professionals to plan ahead for maintenance and repair work, and minimize breakdowns and disruption to passengers.
On the service front, going digital can drastically change how we manage the maintenance and modernization of our customers’ vertical mobility assets. Going digital gives our engineers a better overview of the conditions of our customers’ mobility assets, and provides them timely service advice and proposals. This ensures seamless E&E operation in their properties. We believe the benefits offered by going digital will — over the longer term — contribute to even higher customer satisfaction.
SSP: What will digitalization of services look like in the future?
MM: In the future, especially with TKE’s groundbreaking elevator solutions such as TWIN and MULTI (which allow the operation of two elevators in one shaft and multiple elevators in both vertical and horizontal directions, respectively), the importance of digital mobility solutions will go beyond bringing passengers up and down in a building. I can see MAX giving us a more comprehensive and clearer picture of elevators’ operating conditions and full control over their operation and maintenance schedule. I foresee benefits like zero downtime and reduced energy consumption by parking non-used elevator cars during non-peak hours. Service will become more non-disruptive as it can be pre-arranged to take place only during non-operating hours and planned according to what MAX tells us about their conditions. With MAX, we can manage E&E for our customers in a more proactive and comprehensive manner, enabling them to focus their manpower and other resources in managing other parts of the property. The fact that TKE possesses the capability to service E&E of all makes of equipment makes us the ideal partner for Real Estate Investment Trusts, property owners and managers to entrust us with the maintenance and service of units across their property portfolios, and enjoy savings through economies of scale.
About Manish Mehan
Manish Mehan has grown from being the chief financial officer to now the CEO and managing director of the organization. His association with TKE dates back to 2002, when he had just joined the organization. With more than 20 years’ experience, his expertise spans verticals such as finance, operations, sales and marketing. He envisions positioning TKE as the most customer-centric solution provider with an efficient and lean structure, where collaboration and respect among teams are part of the DNA, thereby providing an enriching experience to stakeholders.
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