What does it take to be considered as one of the most innovative companies in the world? For KONE, it’s continuously developing, improving, and refining one’s approach to innovation. With over a century of experience under its belt, KONE has shown the world why it is a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry. From supplying the best elevators and escalators, to providing solutions used for maintenance and modernization. The company’s clients have trusted KONE to ensure the safety, convenience and reliability in people’s transportation systems inside taller and smarter buildings.
In an exclusive interview with KONE’s Regional Marketing and Communications Manager for its offices in the Middle East and Africa, Noha Kadora shares her views on today’s trends in the elevator and escalator industry, where the company is headed and how KONE is giving back to the community. She also gives pieces of advice to young engineers that differentiating oneself is key to leaving a mark in the industry.
Noha Kadora completed her Master’s degree in international migration and ethnic relations at Malmo University in Sweden, the country where she was born and raised. In 2011, she then moved to Dubai. She has been with KONE for the past 4 and a half years. Prior to working in the elevator and escalator industry, she also has had experience in event companies and the IT industry.
Noha is an active person that enjoys cycling, wall climbing and water sports. When she is not traveling on her days off, you will find her relaxing on the beach.
KONE, which was founded in 1910, is known as one of the global leaders in the elevator and escalator industry. “KONE’s objective is to offer the best People Flow® experience by developing and delivering solutions that enable people to move smoothly, safely, comfortably and without waiting in buildings in an increasingly urbanizing environment,” Kadora told GineersNow. The company’s services covers the entire lifetime of a building starting from the design phase up to the maintenance, repairs as well as modernization solutions.
In 2016, the company had an annual net sales of EUR 8.8 billion, and has over 52,000 employees wherein half of the employees work on-field. KONE class B shares are listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki Ltd. In Finland. The company has manufacturing operations in seven countries worldwide (China, India, Finland, Italy, Czech Republic, Mexico and USA).
The company embodies their mission to improve the flow of urban life. “Through more effective People Flow®, we make people’s journeys safe, convenient and reliable, in taller, smarter buildings.” Kadora said. With the cooperation of their partners together with their customers around the world, KONE helps cities to become better places to live in.
“We understand that different buildings have different purposes which has an impact on the flow of people and on the surrounding environment”. That is why KONE’s vision is to deliver the best People Flow® experience. “It also means we provide Ease, Effectiveness and Experiences to our users and customers, over the full life cycle of buildings,” she adds.
Their strategy lies with the customer. “We can say that we are the best, we have the best products, best processes and best people. At the end of the day, the customer decides how good we are.” KONE aims to win with their customers by demonstrating how their needs are understood, as well as how their businesses can be improved, and what solutions can be offered to them. “We want to show them the value of working with KONE.”
In 1996, KONE revolutionized the escalator and elevator industry by introducing the KONE MonoSpace® platform. It’s the first machine-room-less elevator on the market. Another innovation from KONE is a Destination Control System named KONE Destination. It is an innovative elevator control system which dramatically increases the elevator system’s ability to handle the traffic flow in high rise buildings. Rather than pressing a traditional up and down button, the passenger selects their destination using a destination operating panel in the lobby and is then intelligently guided to a designated elevator car, reducing wait times and unnecessary stops.
In line with this, the company also offers client support all throughout the manufacturing process. They work with consultants, architects, and many stakeholders to be able to serve the customers’ needs. KONE is a full solution provider that constantly finds innovative ways to satisfy their partners.
TRENDS IN ECONOMIC, PRODUCT & COMPANY
Through the years, KONE has innovated groundbreaking technologies that have redefined innovation and development in the industry and has shaped the future of city living and working. “Whatever the future of high-rise technology might hold, we have the facilities to test them,” Kadora said.
An example of such is their upgraded high-rise testing laboratory at Tytyri in Finland and is the tallest testing facility for elevators in the world. Its tallest shaft reaches up to 333 meters or 305 meters of travel.
KONE also launched the KONE People Flow Intelligence solutions (PFI) in 2013, which covers the key areas that are crucial for enabling people to move around in buildings as smoothly as possible. This means, ease of access control, destination guidance, equipment monitoring and information solutions.
The super-light KONE UltraRope technology provides unrivaled elevator eco-efficiency, reliability and durability, while also improving elevator performance. It eliminates the disadvantages of existing steel ropes and enables elevator travel heights up to 1,000 meters.
The KONE JumpLift is a self-climbing elevator that uses the building’s hoist-ways while under construction, following the formwork as the building grows higher. The solution provides faster, safer, and more reliable elevator service during construction. JumpLift improves people and material flow efficiency by up to 20%, and can consequently shorten overall construction schedules which means a quicker return on investment.
In 2017, KONE has revolutionized the elevator and escalator maintenance with the smart 24/7 Connected Services. Their 24/7 Connected Services, as a part of their KONE Care™, makes use of the recent IBM Watson IoT platform as well as other advanced technologies to bring intelligent services to elevators and escalators.
KONE believes that the direction and shape of their industry in the following years to come is driven by two megatrends: First is Urbanization, wherein it continues to drive growth. Second is Technological Disruption, which drives change and faster pace of business as well as new expectations for ways of working.
It is important to understand the opportunities of these megatrends, so “we can build deeper relationships with our customers and differentiate from competitors, – for the entire lifecycle of their equipment.” Kadora explains.
SOCIAL IMPACT & CSR
KONE is committed to making a positive impact in the whole value chain, as they contribute directly to the economic development in the different countries where they operate. Every employee in the company contributes to the company’s CSR initiatives. Also, the company works with around 20,000 suppliers who provide them with raw materials, components and modules, as well as logistics and installation services.
KONE has between 2008 and 2016 succeeded to reduce its operational carbon footprint relative to orders received by over 60%. The company’s score in CDP’s climate change program was the best possible A for the second year running, with only 193 companies out of thousands achieving the A grade. Additionally, KONE achieved a position on CDP’s global Supplier A List 2016 including the top 2% of suppliers that responded in CDP’s supplier questionnaire.
KONE also has a non-profit organization called The KONE Centennial Foundation (KCF). This foundation focuses on innovative programs that advance and support developmental, educational, and cultural activities for children and youth around the world. KCF celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010. They cooperate closely with local partners to plan projects, ensure efficient resource allocation and respect for local culture and priorities. As much as possible, KCF chooses project wherein local KONE units can contribute practical support, and KONE volunteers can support the projects in their spare time.
ADVICE TO THE YOUNG ENGINEERS
“Differentiating oneself is the key. For the most part, our business has been driven by advances in mechanical engineering for more than a century. Innovation in today’s world is much more. It means new processes, new integrated technologies and connectivity, as well as new benchmarks for customer service.
We constantly renew ourselves, find new ways of working and innovate with new solutions and services for our customers. For instance, maintenance services can be revolutionized by combining cloud computing and mobile solutions. Or real-time data and analytics can help service technicians translate insights into meaningful data and keep customers informed. At KONE we take a collaborative approach to innovation. That means working together with customers and partners to innovate together.
By opening up, and by encouraging new ideas we develop new skills, identify new challenges to be solved as well as being able to pilot and commercialize new products and services at a faster pace. Our collaboration with IBM is one example of innovation partnership.”