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Standardisation, IoT, and the potentialities for the lift industry
One of the exciting and inspiring elements of digital transformation is what is called IoT (Internet of Things), which is the system that involves physical objects that can be connected to the Internet and collect their data on the network. When we talk about “things” connected to the Internet, we are no longer referring only to computers and telephones; today, a vast variety of objects can be connected, including “things” such as tennis rackets, clothing, vehicles, and practically all kinds of appliances within the household.
Even biological elements, such as pets, crops, livestock, are starting to be involved in this network. “If you think that the Internet has changed your life, think again. The IoT is about to change it all over again,”said Brendan O’ Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems. Estimates speak of between 10 and 15 billion connected devices, with an expected double-digit growth trend in the coming years. The most interesting element of this evolution is the amount of data collected, which largely exceeds the number of connected devices. This technological revolution offers SMEs great opportunities for growth and development in a relatively new and constantly evolving market.
The IoT is influencing entire sectors, challenging companies to reshape their technology and business development plans. The lift industry, accepting this challenge, is integrating more and more intelligence and connectivity into a rather simple machine, allowing the industry to evolve towards the exploitation of the potential of the digital world. The data acquired in digital lifts include both the dynamics of the operation of the components of the lift itself (such as doors, contactors, dark contacts, etc.), and the behavioural dynamics in the lift use by the consumers (times of greatest use, modalities of use, etc.).
The real time availability of the data, related to the operation of the lift components, offers the possibility to detect anomalies, and send this information to the technical staff in order to obtain a resolution of the problem in a much shorter time than in the past. For example, the wear and tear of a landing door contact has symptoms that initially do not affect the correct operation of the lift, and yet, not being promptly detected, they worsen. As an initial consequence, there are only temporary malfunctions whose natural consequence is system downtime. Troubleshooting can take a lot of time, and once the cause has been identified, the spare part must be procured. As a result, downtime increases, and this has a negative impact on the end customer satisfaction level. On the other hand, thanks to the use of IoT technology, when the first symptoms appear, the data transmitted allow the technical department of the maintenance company to analyse the symptom, find the cause, procure the necessary spare part, and finally send the technical staff to solve the problem. This ecosystem thus connected, reduces downtime, increases the quality of service, and gives a sense of security to the end customer, who becomes increasingly aware of the benefits of the services offered by a company that uses IoT technology.
Some of the data collected by the IoT lift relates to the dynamics of use of the lift itself. For example, in public places with a high frequency of visitors, it is possible to collect data concerning the traffic flow, such as the hours of most use, or the most served floors. All these data are analysed and processed, so one can respond in real time to the dynamics of user flow, remotely changing service priorities. Another example that concerns the dynamics of use in places of high traffic, is the need, before a major event (such as those happening in a stadium, in an exhibition centre, in a sports hall), to test the full functionality of the elevators in the structure. Thanks to the use of an intelligent lift system, an operation test is launched, at the end of which reports are generated with the test results. This integration allows the maintenance company to offer a quality service based on the quality of the lift performance, and to ensure the full functionality of the lifts at the time of greatest influx to the customer.
In addition to the benefits that IoT brings directly to the lift sector specifically, by improving the quality and by increasing the number of services available, the use of IoT made it possible to enter an ever-evolving ecosystem. To fully exploit the potential of these innovative technologies, several aspects of this growth need to be addressed, including interoperability between systemsand cybersecurity of datacollected and stored on the network. The use and constant reference to standards allows facing and exploiting effectively and efficiently the challenges and opportunities of this digital transformation.
Speaking of interoperability between systems, we can take a modern building as an example, where several IoT systems manage heating, alarm systems, lighting, access control, elevators, and much more. Standardisationallows to identify the connected IoT devices, and to know specifically their data management elements, making the most of their potential. Therefore, for example, the lift provides some standard datasuch as car filling, car temperature, direction of travel, most served floors, and times of use. The collection and sharing through the network of these standardised data allows making them available to other systems in the building, in turn, capable of receiving and processing them according to those same standards. This does not exclude the possibility for the “thing” (lift type) to also manage proprietary, non-standardised data to provide the end-user with further tools for customising the service.
Standardisation also has an effect in solving problems related to the security of the data itself, as well as its management. Data acquired by IoT devices are transported, stored, processed, and finally shared with other systems. Along this supply chain, the risk of security risks can be high; standardisationof security levels can increase reliability and protection. So, back to the elevator “thing”, data transmission can be routed through protected channels (VPN-HTTPS, etc..), stored in encrypted databases, processed, and finally shared in protected servers. Concerning data security, standardisation provides reference points so that the supply chain is protected from possible risks.
In conclusion, while the term Internet of Things focuses on the interconnectivity of machines, equipment, and other “objects”, we run the risk of forgetting that the centre and purpose of the IoT world is people, i.e. to meet the needs and requirements of the customer. People require more attention, and are more sensitive to the quality of the services they are offered. SMEs have a great opportunity to respond effectively to this demand through an innovative tool such as IoT, taking full advantage of its technological and economic potential.