Looking up the Indian elevator and escalator industry, CHARU BAHRI discovers that domestic and foreign players alike are flocking to this zooming marketplace.
Increasing urbanisation and space constraints in Indian cities are spurring vertical construction and, with it, demand for elevators and escalators. An e-Research and Publications study expects the industry to touch 54,500 units by 2014, growing at a CAGR of 13.9 per cent. At present, demand is estimated at about 40,000 units annually.
Industry players are upbeat about their prospects. "The elevator and escalator market is currently around 45,000 units, and expected to cross 60,000 by 2015 on the back of an expanding residential segment, which comprises almost 70 per cent of the total market," says Rohit Parulekar, Director, Sales & Marketing, Schindler India Pvt Ltd. According to Sebi Joseph, Managing Director, Otis India, "India is the second largest elevator market in the world today with annual sales of 42,000 units. China is the biggest market with sales of 400,000 units per annum. Demand in India is expected to touch 70,000 units per annum by 2016." And as Osamu Kubo, Managing Director, Hitachi Lift India Pvt Ltd, tells us, "The Indian elevator/escalator market for new installations will grow by over 10 per cent every year through to 2015."
For his part, Pravin Rao, General Manager-Sales & Marketing Department, Mitsubishi Elevator ETA India Pvt Ltd, expects the demand for elevators and escalators to exceed 55,000 units by 2015 on the back of rapid urbanisation, especially from Tier-II and Tier-III cities.
Evidently, it is not just top cities that are growing denser and taller. New suburbs featuring mid-level to tall buildings are mushrooming in second and third-rung cities. Thus, Joseph says, "Sustained GDP growth and increasing urbanisation will fuel industry expansion. The Indian market for escalators and elevators has the potential to grow 10-12 per cent annually."
Most in demand and the fastest growing segment is elevators for residential properties. In contrast, the share of the industrial and infrastructure segment is expected to grow marginally. Demand from the commercial segment is slated to fall.
"The residential segment leads overall market demand followed by the office/IT/commercial segment," says Rao. "Although the residential segment traditionally comprised apartments and condominiums, of late the concept of villas is gaining popularity with high net worth individuals. We foresee good growth opportunities for elevators in villas. Elevators are specially designed for villa applications and operate with a single-phase power supply."
"Some major growth markets include affordable housing, premium high-rise residential buildings and infrastructure projects such as airports and metros," adds Parulekar. "Being a preferred supplier of elevators, escalators and mobility solutions to landmark projects - like Antilla, Imperial Towers and Lodha World One amongst high rises; Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai International airports; Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru metros - is helping us bag new prestigious projects."
"There's plenty of demand for elevators for commercial and residential high-rise buildings," agrees Joseph. "Demand is increasing for home elevators for villas, luxury apartments, duplexes and penthouses. But, infrastructure projects, especially metros and monorails, also have a big requirement for escalators."
A widening market is attracting elevator companies of every ilk to capture a share of the growing pie. Global companies like Mitsubishi Electric, Otis, Hitachi, Schindler and Kone are jostling domestic players in what's becoming a crowded market. Hitachi has lined up its globally successful range of products for India. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has established an Indian company for elevators and escalators, headquartered in Chennai. Kone Elevator India has started work on a larger factory near Chennai with the aim to double its production capacity and even export full elevator kits. Schindler is setting up a greenfield manufacturing facility for escalators and elevators near Pune, which is scheduled to go into operation in early 2014. This is in addition to three state-of-the-art training centres in India dedicated to the training of Schindler field employees to ensure high quality installations and customer services.
Small domestic companies are getting into component manufacturing while larger companies are launching indigenous brands. Overseas component manufacturers such as Wittur of Austria (elevator doors) and Savera of China (guiderails) are also eyeing India with the idea of timing their entry right.
What bodes well for foreign players is that Indian consumers are gradually becoming more brand and feature conscious. "Post Y2K, Indian customers are consistently exposed to global trends, with rising aspirations and -higher spending capabilities," avers Rao. "As a result, premium customers have become brand conscious and highly demanding with respect to value, features and benefits." That said, he also observes that developers demand value-for-money products/solutions for residential projects but are willing to invest in latest technologies for offices and IT projects, seeking tangible benefits like ride quality, smooth door operation, low noise and high reliability.
Kubo believes that Indian buyers are very price-sensitive. "But they have also started to recognise the merits and high quality of Japanese branded elevators," he reasons, adding, "Low-to-middle-speed elevators are most in demand in India. As the number of high-rise projects under development increases, demand for high-speed elevators is also growing."
"A positive trend is that manual door elevators, which form a significant portion of the market, are on the decline, and demand is rapidly shifting to auto-door elevators, which are safer and more energy-efficient," observes Parulekar. "Schindler India is playing a major role in this positive shift by offering its range of auto-door elevators in various market segments."
Speaking from his experience, Joseph tells us, "Green elevators are finding more takers now as a lot of developers and building owners are aiming for green certifications like LEED. Over half the products we sell are from OTIS's Gen2 range of energy-efficient elevators, of which we have sold over 260,000 units worldwide so far."
As long as building heights continue to spiral upwards, the market for elevators and escalators can only proceed the same way.
• Current elevator and escalator market: around 45,000 units.
• Manual door elevators are on the decline.
• Green elevators are finding more takers.
• Major growth markets: affordable housing, commercial and residential high-rise buildings and infrastructure projects.
Product: 48 elevators including Gen2® elevators, Skyrise™, Elevonics™, 12 escalators, the Compass™ destination management system and Otis' web-based EMS Panorama™ system
Source: Project executed by Otis India
Maintenance/service: Through Otis's countrywide network spanning over 80 centres in 300 towns and cities and OTISLINE™ customer service line. 24/7 service and support in major metropolitan areas. Annual equipment survey health checks are done for all elevators and safety certification issued.
Client: Kohinoor Developers
Project: Kohinoor Square
Location: Dadar, Mumbai
Building specs: Building of 50 floors
Features: Some elevators will have a speed of 6 mps and 4 mps. These will be from Otis' Gen2™ range of products and Skyrise™, Gen2™ elevators feature a coated steel belt (up to 20 per cent lighter), the ReGen™ drive (reduces energy consumption by up to 75 per cent vis-a-vis non-regenerative drives), the permanent magnet and the OtisÆ PULSEÖ system, which help increase the life, efficiency, safety and reliability of the elevator. Skyrise™ is a premier high-speed elevator system designed for high-rises. It features a PM magnet synchronous machine and LED lighting with standby mode that reduce energy needs by up to 50 per cent. It is also fitted with the ReGen™ drive and requires smaller machine rooms. Another key feature will be the implementation of the Compass™ destination management system, which evaluates real-time passenger traffic to improve flow and cut waiting and travel time, in busy mid and high-rise buildings. Passengers register their specific floor before they enter the elevator and the system assigns passengers travelling to nearby floors to the same car.
Supplier: Hitachi Lift India Pvt Ltd
Product: 19 machine room-less elevators, including 16 units with a 1,600 kg load capacity (passenger capacity: 21 persons)
Source: Manufactured by Hitachi Elevator Asia in Singapore, on-site installation by Hitachi Lift India Maintenance/service: Trained Hitachi in-house teams will provide comprehensive maintenance services
Client: Aria Hotels and Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd
Project: JW Marriott Aerocity Hotel
Location: Near Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi
Building specs: Seven floors above ground and three floors underground
Features: Six main elevators will feature surveillance cameras and card authentication devices to limit access to guest room floors. This is essential to provide guests with high levels of safety and peace of mind expected from a luxury hotel. Also, LCD displays fitted in the cars will broadcast messages about the hotel's facilities and amenities for the benefit of passengers.
Supplier: Hyundai, Korea
Product: 10 escalators
Source: Made in Korea and installed by Kinetic Hyundai
Maintenance/service: Serviced under AMC by Kinetic Hyundai
Client: Collage India
Project: Viva Collage (mall)
Building specs: Seven-floor building, including two basements and a lower ground floor
Features: These are heavy-duty escalators with a capacity of 9,000 persons per hour and speed of 0.5 mps. Each has two flat steps at the top and bottom. The balustrade is clear glass, handrails are black, handrail guide is aluminium anodised and the deck and skirt is hairline stainless steel.
Supplier: Mitsubishi Elevator ETA India Pvt Ltd
Product: NEXWAY (Speed 180-240m/m, capacity 1,350 kg)
Maintenance/service: Mitsubishi Electric has a structured programme to constantly train and upgrade the skills of engineers and technicians. Further, each major metro in India has adequate stock of spares to ensure timely troubleshooting. The company has also established an in-house, dedicated 24x7 call centre with the primary objective of minimising the response time for any customer complaint.
Client: Ruby Mills
Project: Ruby Tower
Location: Dadar, Mumbai
Building specs: 38 floors + four-storey podium for parking
Features: Smooth ride quality and a speed of 240 m/m. It's the first Destination-Oriented Prediction System (DOAS) for Mitsubishi Electric in India with security access control. Offers smooth door operation and 99 per cent uptime.
Supplier: Schindler India Pvt Ltd
Product: 18 Schindler S 7,000 series elevators and 7 of 5,400 AP MRL elevators
Source: Manufactured by Schindler in Europe/China/Vietnam, on-site installation by Schindler India
Service: Comprehensive maintenance services backed by a dedicated customer service call centre.
Client: Lodha Developers
Project: World Towers
Location: Upper Worli, Mumbai
Building specs: World One Tower is a 117-storey luxury residential building
Features: Schindler's 7,000 series is its top range. The speed and number of stops of these high-performance products are custom-designed to meet the specific needs of each demanding customer.
Supplier: Johnson Lifts Ltd
Source: Made in China
Maintenance/service: Johnson Lifts Ltd
Client: Neptune Developers
Project: Neptune Magnet Mall
Location: Bhandup (W), Mumbai
Building specs: Ground to third floor
Features: It has a travelling rise of 4.2 m, offers a shudder-free travel experience and incorporates a power-saving sensor and advanced safety features.
THE FUTURE OF ELEVATOR TECHNOLOGY
Interestingly, elevator technology – in particular, elevator shaft height limits of 600 m and speed limits – is considered the principal hurdle to building taller structures. Long travel times in elevators are a big put-off for occupants of very tall buildings.
One standout elevator concept for tall buildings is the ‘sky lobby’ that drives lifts in Burj Khalifa and that will also be used in Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower. Sky lobbies are transfer junctions where people can board additional elevator cars to travel to the top floors. Only buildings that are a mile high (yes, they are being talked about) would need a minimum of three such junctions.
As speed is another impediment, it’s heartening to know that Mitsubishi plans to deploy elevators that will zoom up at 18 m per second in China’s Shanghai Tower. Slated to be the world’s fastest elevator, it will incorporate an air-pressure control system to protect the ears of travellers from popping and an active roller guide to dampen vibrations.
Also, futuristic minds are thinking of replacing cabled elevators with electromagnetically propelled cars. Travellers would be strapped in and transported to their in-building destinations through shafts running horizontally as well as vertically. What that means is that just a few shafts could take care of an entire tall building because the cars would pass each other as they travel along.
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