AI for the Enterprise

How KONE is using Watson IoT to make its elevators smarter

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If there’s one technology city dwellers take for granted, it’s elevators. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) the elevator has been around for more than 150 years and 2) elevators can sometimes be slow and waste a lot of time and energy.

As more of the world’s population moves to cities, elevators are becoming a necessity standard mode of transportation. That’s why elevator manufacturers are overhauling their operations with faster elevators that use time and energy more efficiently. Elevators have even involved to ditch the standard cables for magnetic levitation and go sideways instead of up and down.

If elevators and escalators do not work properly, this has a significant impact on the way cities function. People may not get to work on time in office buildings.

Smart elevators have been around for more than a decade and replace buttons with keypads. By clustering riders together, such elevators are 50% more efficient than typical “traditional” elevators.

Simply having top-quality escalators, elevators and related solutions in place are not enough. AI is helping elevator manufacturers better anticipate problems, improve repair services and handle traffic more efficiently. One such elevator firm, KONE, recently joined forces with IBM’s Watson IoT, to provide predictive maintenance services and offer more personalized experiences.

KONE’s 24/7 services

The first manifestation of KONE’s Watson IoT deal is 24/7 connected services. The offering uses the Watson IoT Platform and Predictive Maintenance Insights to bring intelligent services to elevators and escalators. By connecting its elevators to the cloud and analyzing the data each elevator produces, KONE can tailor the perfect maintenance to each individual elevator. This means fewer faults, faster repairs, higher availability and more peace of mind for customers.

The AI-based system not only synthesized incoming data, but analyzes it to make sense of the signals it receives. For instance, a temperature reading that’s slightly above normal may be an indication of engine trouble, but Watson IoT can also note if it’s a hot day, which might be a factor as well.

Another example could be when an elevator shares it landed a few millimeters higher than usual or is experiencing a slight vibration after start — all indicators of potential problems. In response, Watson IoT could schedule maintenance or note an unusual data point for future reference.

Sensors and systems connected to elevators and escalators in KONE’s maintenance base share the data. The analyzed data can be provided to service technicians, who can identify the issues and can reserve the correct spare parts in advance before driving to the site. With real-time analysis, intelligent, proactive decisions can be taken on how to solve any potential problems before they become an issue.

In addition to collecting and storing equipment data, KONE is also using IBM Cloud to collect and store equipment data, build applications and develop new solutions. These new services blend cutting-edge technology with an understanding of people’s needs to improve people flow in homes, neighborhoods and cities.

Preparing for smart cities

Increasingly, elevators will be a key component of smart cities, as internet-connected urban centers that use IoT and AI will use resources more efficiently. Adding intelligence to a city’s infrastructure can make it easier for people to get around and improve their quality of life.

Over the next few years, KONE aims to connect its global maintenance base of more than a million elevators, escalators and building doors to cloud-based services. KONE hopes by gathering vast amounts of data from equipment operations and using sophisticated analysis and connectivity, it will have elevators that increasingly arrive on time when you need them, stop less and use energy more efficiently.

For KONE, AI is playing a significant role in transforming the company. Technicians can have all the information they need at their fingertips such as work tasks, location and maintenance history of the elevator. Customers can also access KONE Care Online to see in real time how the company is addressing maintenance issues and repairs.

With the latest advances and integrating, the humble elevator is transforming into cutting-edge technology to offer users a seamless experience.

Use AI to constantly monitor the condition of systems that power your business to ensure bigger problems don’t disrupt your work.

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