Kathy Gibson reports from Huawei Connect in Shanghai – Every time you get into an elevator, you are putting your life into the hands of a sophisticated piece of technology that you assume is well designed and maintained.
More than 15-million elevators are being used today – and as urbanisation progresses, more people will live in cities and there will be more need for high-rise buildings and thus the need for elevators.
“Elevators are more and more important around the world,” says Swift Liu, president of Huawei Enterprise Network product line.
However, the increased use of elevators exacerbates the challenges around the current standard of manual inspection. For instance, two manual inspections per elevator per year makes for incredibly high operating costs, and the room for error increases the more elevators are thus maintained.
But the implications of not doing regular maintenance is horrendous, with some high-profile elevator accidents having taken place just in the last couple of years.
Having elevators out of commission is also not an ideal situation, with literally millions of people reliant on elevators to get to and from work or home.
“Elevators are complicated equipment, so there needs to be more innovation in elevator technology,” Liu says.
The city of Shanghai has already passing a law requiring new elevators to include perimeter monitoring technology.
“So the connected elevator is very important,” says Liu, adding that Huawei has developed a new solution for a connected elevator.
“We will install an IoT gateway in the elevator, connecting to the network through wired or wireless communication. A cloud-based controller looks after the elevator gateways.
“This architecture allows millions of sensors to be managed via an IoT platform that can be provided by Huawei or a third-party like GE.
“Based on the data collected by the sensors, the system is able to detect pending faults.”
Security is built into the system at all levels, protecting sensors, operating systems and the network.
By placing the IoT gateway on the edge, realtime analysis can be carried out close to the elevator, picking up any immediate problems and filtering invalid data that doesn’t need to go to the cloud.
Containers at the gateway allow customers to plug in their own applications, such as maintenance schedules and data that can be stored in the cloud.
Meanwhile, the software defined networking (SDN) architecture enable for centralised management, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.
Liu point out that the architecture opens up new opportunities, for business or collecting data.
Huawei has signed a partnership with Schindler, to enable a connected elevator ecosystem.
Daryoush Ziai, CEO: China region of Schindler, points out that the company provides and services about 1,5-million elevators and escalators in 100 countries around the world.
“We already have a product in service for remote monitoring that helps us to better maintain and service our customers,” he says. “We also have technologies aimed at improving the flow of people inside buildings.
“But there can be more, and we have partnered with Huawei to add sensors to elevators, the connection systems through IoT, and the applications to improve the service and safety of the riding public.”
Schindler brings its experience in the elevator and escalator industry as well as its digital platform for closed loop service business, using PORT technology for advanced transit management and access control.
It is now able to add to this using Huawei’s Edge computing gateway that enables local pre-analysis and an SDN architecture that managed millions of terminals, enabling automatic operations and maintenance.
“We are looking  forward to taking our company, the industry and the millions or billions of people who use this technology, to the next level,” Ziai says.