Sebi Joseph, Managing Director, Otis Elevator Company (India) Ltd
Opportunities for vertical transportation companies are on the rise like never before. In urban centres and aspirational small towns, developers are building fast, and high. This begs the question: Is India geared to cater to the need of this emerging market? And do we have what it takes to build a world-class elevator? Sebi Joseph, Managing Director, Otis Elevator Company (India) Ltd,answers these questions and more in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What is the current market for elevators in India?
India's elevator market is the second largest after China. Compared to China's 400,000 units sold per year, India is currently between 40,000 and 45,000 units. There is certainly a huge gap. But with India being our focus, the number is expected to grow to about 75,000 units by 2015, and considering the growing population in cities, we expect this to increase by 40 per cent by 2030.
With tall structures being the recent trend, how do you view the role of vertical transportation technologies?
Elevators have become the lifeline of a building today. These are no longer designed like a simple box. Although international exposure for sophisticated and latest solutions is a need, the demand is for a localised product. This is a very interesting phase. At present, we are supplying our elevators to Kohinoor's upcoming residential structure with 63 units in Mumbai. The elevator speed is being planned at about 0.6 m per second. Going forward, tall structures will demand higher speed and sophisticated technology. The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa used the fastest double-deck elevators at 2.10 m per second; you cover 124 floors in 59 seconds. In India, there is immense scope for growth, especially in Delhi, Mumbai as well as Gurgaon and Bengaluru to some extent. Even the aspiration levels in Tier-II and III cities are increasing. Hence, we are expecting a huge demand for elevators in the future.
What are the factors considered while designing elevators?
Speed and riding comfort are certainly important aspects. As the elevator goes higher, there is an impact, you have a sway, wind pressure comes up and there can be a stack effect in the building. Hence, the elevator needs to be designed based on the wind pressure. However, a five-floor hospital may opt for stretcher lifts and the speed will be slow. As for a hotel, the focus will be more on the interiors for a soothing effect. And in the residential segment, we sell regenerative drive elevators as it brings down operational cost.
How about safety measures at Otis?
We call them absolutes: safety, ethics and internal controls. Of these, safety is our topmost priority. A small accident and we have several reviews done. We provide training and ensure that the process is followed.
Also, as part of our CSR activity, we organise safety outreach programmes to create awareness amongst school children and housing societies.
Tell us about your flagship elevator, Gen2, which was recently launched in India.
Gen2 was launched in the year 2000. We have sold around 2.6 lakh elevators across the globe. This product does not require lubrication owing to its polyurethane flat belt. It was launched as a machine-roomless elevator and we have been continuously improvising it. One selling feature is the regenerative drive, as this feeds the energy utilised back into the grid where it can be used by other loads or users connected to the same network. Through this, energy up to 75 per cent can be saved. Being one of the most sought-after products across the elevator industry globally, we recently introduced it in India. We have a factory in Bengaluru since 1995 and we started manufacturing this product there in 2010. Today, it is available in various speeds, namely, 1 m per second and 1.5 m per second.
In a sluggish market, how did the industry and Otis perform this year?
We witnessed 6 per cent GDP growth. The market grew by 11 per cent and that is not bad. The retail segment did experience a slowdown, but that too did not have much of an impact. About Otis, our global market share is about 25 per cent. In India, with 55,000 units going to the service segment, we are at about 40 per cent. This year, we experienced a growth of about 12 per cent as against our yearly growth of more than 15 per cent. However, considering the market scenario, we are completely satisfied with this.
You have been in Dubai for several years. Now that you are in India, how do you view this market?
Dubai and Gulf regions have advanced a lot in recent years. Over there, the elevator speeds are phenomenal. Working in Dubai was an experience in itself. If I take an example of overcoming hardships, it would be that of a small district in Saudi Arabia called the King Abdullah Finance District. The market spanning 10 km is an architect's playground. One would ask,'who would come to live in a desert?' Yet, they are constructing new structures and the market is brimming with builders and new players in this segment. Similarly in India, though it is facing few challenges, it is definitely showing progress. The country is poised to see such tremendous growth in areas like Gurgaon, and other parts of NCR, Bengaluru, etc.
As the newly appointed managing director of Otis, what are your strategies to keep the company ahead of its competitors?
India is going to be the market. We came here in 1892 by installing an elevator in Raj Bhavan in Kolkata. Today, we have the largest service base of 55,000 in India. We are suppliers to giants like Godrej, Tata, Prestige, Oberoi, etc. We aim to make our 9,000 sq m factory in Bengaluru a green factory, expand it by nine times in floor area and triple its current capacity of 3,000 units to 10,000 units by Q1 2013. Also, though we have already launched Gen2 in India at 1 m per second, this product is imported from China for 2.5 m per second and higher speeds. My goal is to manufacture these speeds in India as well. Also, talent being our focus, we recently formed a talent council to choose the top 50 talents of our company and groom them as leaders at all levels. This is certainly going to help Otis grow in the future. Last, we aim to be the best service provider because as India grows, the concept of service will change. We have an operating system called achieving competitive excellence or ACE, which helps us churn out a quality product and improve service quality.
To share your feedback on this interaction, write in at feedback@ASAPPmedia.com