With the vision to create the best people-flow experience, Kone provides industry-leading elevators, escalators and automatic building doors, as well as innovative solutions for modernisation and maintenance. The company, which has a successful presence in India, has over 1,000 offices around the world, serving more than 400,000 customers across the globe and offering services to some 900,000 elevators and escalators. Amit Gossain, Managing Director, Kone Elevators India, shares more on the company's Indian operations and offerings with CW.
How is the market for elevators in India impacting the company's growth?
India is the world's second largest new equipment market, after China. The country's elevator market is about 50,000 units per annum and is expected to continue to grow in the next five years. As long as infrastructure grows, so will the need for elevators and escalators. Kone is a leader with a good market position.
Here, the residential sector contributes to almost 60 per cent of the business. Hence, it is important that we deliver solutions that the segment requires. With more emphasis on energy-efficient products, gearless elevators are gaining advantage and our customers want the best.
How versatile are your products to suit customer requirements?
Creating the best overall elevator experience is more than mixing and matching the materials and components at Kone. Today, we offer a range of world-class elevator car designs that are localised to blend and merge with the cultural sensitivity of the country. We place great importance on design, which is treated as a fine emotional experience that pleases the elevator user during every ride through form and function.
It is a combination of aesthetics, accessibility, comfort, safety, reliability and eco-efficiency. Keeping varying needs in mind, Kone cars have been designed as a series fitting the needs of function, form and elegance.
Our recent gearless products, KONE I MonoSpace and KONE I MiniSpace, have cars designed around the five elements inspired from Vaastu.
Please introduce us to the latest advancements in elevators for high-rise buildings.
Advanced technologies are continuously being introduced to improve elevator operation and system efficiency, contributing to some of the most energy-saving vertical transportation systems commercially available. Demand for ultra-high-speed lifts is increasing.
Our history of innovation is one of our success factors.
We introduced a solution called the JumpLift - a construction time elevator that uses the building hoists to move upward as the construction progresses. This unique elevator uses a temporary machine room that can be shifted up or down, depending on the need. It enables safe and fast construction, reduces downtime and costs, facilitates early closing of facades, and enables safe and efficient transportation for people and materials in all-weather conditions.
Kone also led the way by introducing a new hoisting technology: Kone UltraRope, a super light carbon fibre core. UltraRope is 90 per cent lighter than the equivalent steel cable, thereby leading to over 50 per cent reduction in moving masses and 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption. It also allows the elevator to travel up to 1 km in a single run, double what's currently possible with a steel cable. We are the vertical transportation partner for the world's tallest tower, Kingdom Tower Saudi Arabia; the world's fastest double-decker elevators with UltraRope technology will travel at a record speed of 10 m per second.
KONE Polaris Hybrid Destination Control systems combine the best of destination and traditional control systems, which leads to increased handling capacity, shorter waiting time, fewer intermediate stops, and enhanced passenger comfort. All these innovations have made us feature for the sixth time consecutively in the Forbes list of 100 most innovative companies.
Tell us about your achievements in smart and green lifts.
Environmental excellence is one of Kone's key strategic initiatives. The company has been among the pioneers of machine roomless elevators: MonoSpace elevators in 1996 with the EcoDisc technology. The Kone N MonoSpace elevators introduced in 2012 are up to 28 per cent more energy-efficient than the company's previous industry-leading elevator platform. The improvements are made possible by the completely renewed Kone EcoDisc hoisting machine, a highly efficient drive, and enhanced standby solutions.
Tell us about technological advancements to ensure safety, reliability and maintenance- friendliness in elevators.
Careful planning, component selection, expert installation, and on-site verification at handover are essential for a safe, quiet and good ride comfort. We need to comply with all relevant regulations and give access to reliable and quality service. All Kone service technicians are trained to use the Kone Modular Based Maintenance (MBM), the most advanced preventive maintenance method in the industry. We ensure that our safety policies are clearly communicated to our subcontractors so that there are no deviations in any process. Risk assessment and regular safety audits are done at every stage.
One smart, emerging trend is enhancing connectivity through the use of IoT products: Services and technologies that employ digital technologies to better connect with customers and with elevator, escalator and moving walkway equipment. Kone's partnership with IBM is an important stepping stone to deliver the best people-flow experience.
By using IBM's open standards-based Watson IoT Cloud platform, we plan to allow a vast developer ecosystem via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to build new applications to make a smoother, safer and more personalised experience for users.
Our end-user safety initiatives using our mascot 'Liftman' has been well appreciated. Safety awareness is the key to preventing accidents. We conceptualised on the best possible way to connect with end-users, especially children, and launched the 'Liftman' in 2011. We have taken 'The Chronicles of the Liftman' across the country and are in the process of educating elevator users to ensure our equipment is used safely by all.
How did the company perform last fiscal?
Globally, for 2016 as a whole, Kone increased sales by 3.9 per cent at comparable rates, to Ç8,784 million. The company had annual net sales of Ç8.8 billion, and at the end of the year close to 52,000 employees. We have also introduced the next phase in our strategy: Winning with customers. This marks the start of a new and inspiring period. In India, we have a world-class facility in Chennai -one of Southeast Asia's largest - that manufactures Indian products at global standards. We have the largest production capacity in India. We will continue investing here to ensure that we are able to cater to the needs of the changing market. We also have a new facility coming up at Sriperumbudur, Chennai, which will be ready in a couple of years. We will expand in line with the market expansion, and our systematic investment in R&D will help us sustain and strengthen our leadership position.
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