"We expect our cars to tell us when they need an oil change. Why shouldn’t your elevators tell you when they need service and maintenance?" asks Abby Thebeau, Program Manager at Schindler Ahead, the company’s digital services arm. That’s a reasonable question.
In fact, that’s exactly what Schindler’s digitally connected elevators do. Every minute of every day they send status updates back to Schindler support teams. Reporting on key operational parameters, these smart units can identify potential issues, diagnose the problem, and (where necessary) request a service callback.
That’s where Ohio-based Abby comes in. She engages Schindler’s worldwide network of Technical Operation Centers (TOCs) – central hubs that oversee and collate data from customers’ connected elevators – to monitor equipment in real time. Abby’s team works continuously and invisibly to leverage the latest elevator and Internet-Of-Things technology to prevent faults and reduce downtime.
"Digital service is all about knowing what customers need so we can keep them informed, and their equipment running with minimal disruption," she says. If we’re doing our job right, they don’t need to know we’re there…but rest assured, we are!"
For building owners, the connected elevator is a game-changer, saving them time and money by maximizing ‘uptime’ while minimizing disruption. These units require fewer maintenance procedures (with many problems being resolved remotely). Their service response times are much faster (because they can call in the human experts as soon as a problem is identified). They’re faster to fix (because they can self-diagnose issues and recommend appropriate service measures) and provide sustainability benefits enabling building owners to do their bit to save the planet.
The benefits of digitally connected escalators are only fully realized when the equipment is remotely monitored around the clock by experts. Specifically, experts like Abby, who can translate the data into actionable insights that enhance unit performance.
Abby’s network of TOC experts, based in 27 locations around the world, analyze data gathered via Schindler’s Remote Monitoring Platform from millions of units in a global data pool. This analysis drives rapid responses to urgent problems. If a remote fix is possible, it gets fixed remotely.
"That’s the power of the Remote Monitoring Platform," says Abby. "It’s a cloud-based system that helps us prioritize tasks to deliver faster time to service."
If a service technician is required, Abby’s team provides them with all the diagnostic data they need to deliver an efficient service. "There’s a real ‘hurrah’ moment in being able to tell a customer: we saw it, we told you about it, now just sit back and let us fix it," Abby adds.
She and her teams also take deeper dives into this ever-expanding pool of digital insight to help shape Schindler’s future products and services. Connected units enable the business to learn, to develop, and to future-proof their services.
This closed loop ecosystem of connected units at the customer end, remote monitoring at TOCs, and insights delivered to technicians in the field is the secret sauce of super-reliable, proactive service.
Connected elevators deliver commercial benefits. This is a fact. The financial impact of a broken elevator shouldn’t be underestimated. With unconnected units, elevator breakdowns typically go unnoticed by customers for over three hours after failure.
"Picture a big retail center," explains Abby. "If just one elevator goes down, customers may be prevented from shopping. This can potentially cost thousands of dollars per hour! We want to help businesses avoid that risk."
"With the TOC system and the Remote Monitoring Platform, we can stay ahead of problems. Not only do we detect faults as they happen to quickly resolve them, but we’re also often predicting them before they become an issue," she says.
In a process of continuous improvement, Abby and the other TOC teams are busy in the background using digital insights from connected units to streamline the service for customers and technicians, all of which leads to higher uptime. "It really blows customers’ minds when we send a technician out to them before they realize they need one!" she adds.
Schindler doesn’t keep all the crucial status data from connected elevators to itself. Building owners get vital information too. Abby’s team provides customers with an array of digital insights via the Schindler Ahead ActionBoard platform.
This wraps up all the important statistics, activities, and performance data from customers' elevators and escalators into a simple dashboard. "Customers love having all the information at their fingertips", confirms Abby. "What’s more, it's much easier to detect and solve issues quickly when everyone has a clear overview of their equipment."
With real-time actionable insights, Schindler Ahead ActionBoard helps the TOC prioritize tasks like performance checks and routine maintenance planning — and keeps customers informed at every step.
Connected units deliver real sustainability benefits to building owners. Harnessing the performance insights they provide means Schindler can take preventive action to minimize faults and reduce on-site callbacks to the absolutely necessary.
In fact, Schindler’s analysis of this data shows that connected units can reduce callbacks by up to 37%*, with breakdowns resolved up to 34%* faster. This in turn means fewer site-visit emissions, which helps customers achieve green building credits.
With better service, less downtime and genuine sustainability credentials it’s that having connected elevator and escalator units has immediate and longer-term benefits, both for Schindler customers and for the planet.
What’s more, joining the digital revolution doesn’t necessarily involve a huge commitment or full equipment modernization. Abby explains: “A simple device hooked-up to existing units is sometimes all it takes for customers to gain access to all the benefits of connected services – now and in the future.”
Sounds like a great plan for all building owners.
*Compared to non-connected units.