IoT for lifts: ETSI Smart M2M and the benefits for the maintenance services

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Since 2017, SBS counts a representative of the lift sector within ETSI Smart M2M. As seen in our previous article, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is an independent, not-for-profit, world-leading standards developing organisation for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

In the same article, we mentioned how the lift sector could benefit from the application of the Internet of Things (IoT). In a nutshell, the IoT is the concept of connecting any device to the Internet and to other connected devices. The IoT is a giant network of connected things and people collecting and sharing data about the way they are used and the environment around them. Devices and objects with built-in sensors are connected to an IoT platform, which integrates data from the different devices and applies analytics to share the most valuable information with applications built to address specific needs.

This is only possible if the various devices are “able to talk the same language” or, anyway, have means to understand the data being transmitted by other devices or retrieved from the databases in which they are stored. The correct exchange of information depends on a very large set of parameters which need to be identified beforehand in order to make the data, and the way they are exchanged, compatible with the means which produce, transmit, interpret and store them.

The objective of the SBS participation in ETSI, then, is to define a common standard to connect the lift to the world of IoT. This project aims at elevating the lift to a “smart lift”, that means, in other words, to allow a lift to exchange data with other devices and with smart applications (like the apps available in computers, tablets or smartphones). At this point, the lift experts are creating, according to the standard approach in Smart M2M, some “use cases” that will help develop these common standards and/or other necessary technical documents.

Focusing on our sector, one of the main needs to connect the lifts to the internet could be identified in the development of the maintenance services that could be largely improved and enhanced in the next few years. According to the latest trend, led by the big industry, the maintenance service will be quite different in comparison to the current situation. How could the maintenance contracts actually develop in the near future?

At present, the maintenance contracts have the following features:

  • The contracts are standardised and repetitive, therefore they are roughly the same for all installations;
  • They are based on the number of inspections per year;
  • The service operations take place out of the sight of the customer, who cannot know what the service provider is doing on the lift;
  • As a consequence, the customer is forced to trust the work of the service provider and is not in a position of appreciating and evaluating its quality:
  • Without access to information, the only discriminating factor for the costumer is the price.

However, we have already noticed that the big industry is oriented towards a different strategy in the new contracts, which now propose also maintenance to be based on performance parameters. In these conditions, lifts are connected to the internet and the performance level is evaluated thanks to the information gathered via the Internet. Therefore, the future maintenance contracts could be:

  • Based on performance parameters, in order to allow the customer to evaluate the performance of the service provider through objectively measured and comparable parameters;
  • Based on the guarantee of a minimum up-time referred to an agreed standard value: the only thing that our customer can really appreciate is that the lift (almost) never stops, or that the lift is (almost) never out-of-service (e.g. for fixing problems or faults);
  • Subjected to penalties, if the service provider is not able to guarantee the achievement of the agreed minimum performance (lower performance, higher penalties).

Thanks to these features, maintenance becomes measurable, i.e. dependent on performance, the price stops being the only discriminating factor and the service providers are more fairly compensated – a lot more based on the appreciable level of their performance.

Concluding: which advantages would this innovation bring to SMEs?

Firstly, we will be able to monitor the lift and to provide the customer with information (relevant for him) about the performance of his lift. As a consequence, we will be in the condition of switching our service from “fixing a problem after a fault” to “predictive maintenance”: in other words, fixing the problem before it turns into a fault. This is the requirement for guaranteeing the promise about the up-time in the new type of maintenance contracts.

Secondly, we will be able to exchange data also with other devices and to transform the lift in a “smart” object, capable to provide also other useful features, in addition to only moving passengers up and down according to their needs. Just to list some examples, a smart lift could arrive at the main floor before we pass thought the house door; the provider could manage the customers’ priorities (for example, in case of people with physical disabilities) or optimising the energy consumption of the building in which the lift is installed.

Anyway, the world is changing quite fast and we have to keep its pace. We need to look ahead, at least at the next five years, and to the quickly developing new technologies, if we want to continue successfully developing our business in the lift sector.

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