A new report into the global elevator market has found that emerging technology could help operators find large cost and time savings. The use of drones, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence could see elevator market players make maintenance cost savings of more than 10%.
In the 20th century, the manufacturing economy allowed industries to establish themselves in essentially arbitrary locations, bringing jobs to towns which might otherwise have had little economic growth. All factories needed was access to the national transportation grid, and raw materials could flow in and finished products could flow out. This is not a quality which has been carried forth by the information economy, something illustrated by the fact that in the US, half of all the jobs created during the 2010-14 recovery cycle were centred in 73 counties, home to only about a third of the nation's population.
The area where globally competitive industries support well-paid work is even smaller. Again, looking at the US, while the country is billed as a juggernaut of the digital technology, finance, entertainment, and biotech industries, the lion’s share of such work is concentrated rather narrowly in the Bay Area, Seattle, and the nation’s North-Eastern megalopolis. With jobs being amassed by modern mega-cities, companies are having to pile more and more workers on top of each other to find room – something which has led to a boom in high-rise office blocks in global population centres.
A knock-on effect of this process is that the elevator market is also going through a period of major growth, in order to make it feasible for millions of people to work hundreds of stories above the ground. The elevator installation and service industry includes contractors who install and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways and other automated heavy machinery. The global escalator and elevator market size stood at $70.95 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach $114.65 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.4% during the forecast period.
While the elevator industry is already rising fast, a new study from global consultancy has identified a number of trends which could help give companies an edge in the increasingly competitive market. In particular, the firm has found that technology and innovation in installation, and new maintenance technologies will further impact the market overall in the years to come.
First of all, Berger suggested that new installation and maintenance technologies offer significant cost reduction potential for elevator companies to drive profitability. At the same time, they comprise the first step towards the grander visions. One example of this pointed to by the study is that drones can be used to remotely survey an elevator’s hoistway, and electronically record measurements – an inspection process which would usually all cost valuable time and money. To this end, the result of deploying drones in such a role could see up to 21-26% time savings and 6-11% cost reductions.
Similarly, predictive maintenance algorithms could help alert lift operators to faults as soon as they appear or are about to develop, resulting in up to 14-19% less downtime and 5-10% cost savings on repairs. Meanwhile, augmented reality could be used to overlay site preparation instructions and ensure fast, precise measurements – something that could see time savings of 5-10% and cost savings of up to 5-10%.
Speaking on how elevator market players might best move forward regarding innovation, report author Ralph Mair, Principal at Berger, commented, “For the short and long term, three main fields of actions need to be addressed. Invest in future business models, developing a business plan defining the required resources to execute it; adjust the organisation to incorporate these new technologies via in R&D by including research on drone installations etc.; and adapt the operating model towards what works, continuing to focus on core competencies while further advancing product and service platforming to reduce complexity.”