Over the years, elevators and escalators have had their share of ups and downs especially with the market being a bit stagnant. According to 6Wresearch, UAE elevators and escalator market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.9% during 2016-2022. The UAE elevator and escalator market is highly consolidated with few players accounting for major volume share. In 2015-2016, several infrastructure projects are anticipated to be on hold owing to the dismay of investments. The elevator and escalator industry is intimately connected with the local construction market, which has been under pressure from low oil prices and this has resulted in a number of projects being postponed or redesigned. 
 
“The market of elevator and escalator in UAE has underperformed registering nearly 1% growth during 2014-15. It was affected primarily by the slowdown in construction market pertaining to completion of projects and low confidence by government funding in relation with a decline in oil prices globally,” explains Akash Shukla, Research Associate, 6Wresearch.

Pedro Russo, Business Development Manager, thyssenkrupp Elevator Middle East, says that while over the last two years there has been some pressure in the construction market due to low oil prices, the local governments here in the region remain highly committed to projects that aim at improving the population’s living standards, such as infrastructure, education and healthcare, as well as residential developments fueled by increasing demographics. However, having said that, the upcoming World Expo in 2020 is forecast to elevate major construction projects in the coming years and in the process the elevator and escalator market as well. “Most of the construction projects in UAE are currently underway, which is anticipated to reach completion by 2018. This would further result in demand for new installations of elevator and escalators post 2018. Dubai Expo is expected to provide positive growth for elevator and escalator market with a growth rate of 4% during the forecast period,” says Shukla.

Driving Factors

The win of the World Expo in 2020 has certainly become a driving factor towards the growth of the market. And to accommodate the visitors for the Expo, a number of hotels are expected to double by 2018, which would lead to massive infrastructure development. Shukla explains that even the growing building automation market is a driving factor in the elevator and escalator market. “The UAE building automation and control market have already registered nearly $3 billion revenues in 2015, growing at over 5% yearover- year. The elevator and escalator segment is accounted for nearly 35% of revenue share owing to wider deployment in low-rise buildings and G+2, G+3 villas,” he adds.

Challenges

From security, ensuring smooth movement of human traffic throughout the structure to sustainable and innovative designs, challenges are aplenty for product and service providers. For Jacek Luczak, Director of Service Business, Middle East, KONE, the main challenge while dealing with elevators is to provide smooth people flow. “It is a huge responsibility to assure that the elevators are working constantly, without any breakdowns, and it being safe for the end-users and for the maintenance technicians,” he adds. As service providers, Al-Futtaim Engineering- Elevator Division, says that mood in the market has become more positive with the announcement and materialisation of projects in various segments, like hospitality, residential and commercial buildings and malls etc. But the challenge lies in retaining customers after the completion of a service agreement, says Syed Shamsulhaq, General Manager, Elevator Division, Al- Futtaim Engineering. “A number of small sized companies offer less than nominal service rates thereby inducing customers to save costs, not considering the technical capabilities and spare parts availability of these companies. The end result is a poor service, regular breakdowns and above all serious safety risks,” adds Shamsulhaq.
 
Russo points out that the installation of elevators is one of many tasks during a project, but indeed vital. “The installation of elevators requires a close coordination with several other specialties involved at site. A correct project management is essential to ensure a smooth execution throughout the entire project, from the moment the shafts are prepared and elevators are delivered to the site until they are thoroughly tested and commissioned into service,” he adds.

Precautions

One needs to take a lot of precautions while handling the installation of elevators and escalators as they are an integral component of any building. “Be it commercial or residential – elevators are a part that is intended to last 30 years and more. It is therefore very important that the units installed to serve the needs of the building and be maintained by the right people. Also, there is always a risk that the customer’s requirements of elevators in a building are not properly thought of. It is therefore always a worthwhile exercise to have elevator suppliers on board at the building design stage itself to understand the needs of the customer and make the necessary adjustments,” says Shamsulhaq. So how often must one get them serviced? According to Luczak, maintenance intervals are always subject to best practices and producer’s recommendations. “There is a new trend to set a kind of conditional based maintenance pattern based on the technical status of the equipment. New equipment might require fewer maintenance visits compared to the old, in bed shape units,” he adds.
 
Russo states that an incorrect assessment of the building’s needs can have a long-lasting negative effect on its people flow. “To prevent this, thyssenkrupp provides support from the very early stages of a project, performing traffic analysis studies and advising the project’s stakeholders on their actual needs and proposing suitable dimensioning configuration for the elevation systems in each project,” he explains.

Innovations and Trends

Elevators are no longer simply about getting from A to B. In fact in the grand spectrum of a building’s management, a number of aspects are currently being considered by developers in regards to elevator access.When it comes to trends and recent innovations in the market, Russo states that there has been an increasing awareness from many project stakeholders on sustainability and energy efficiency. Citing an example, Russo explains, “With regenerative drives, the energy generated during the descent of a loaded car is captured and it can then be reused throughout the building, not only saving energy costs, but also helping owners fulfill their building’s goals,” says Russo, who goes on to add, “We have also witnessed that, especially in GCC countries, clients are becoming more and more driven by the use of innovative technologies in their projects. In this field, thyssenkrupp has presented several industry-changing solutions, such as the TWIN elevator system, which has two cars (arranged on top of each other) operating independently in one single shaft; ‘MULTI’, the world’s first rope-free elevator, which harnesses the power of linear motor technology to move multiple cars in a single shaft both vertically and horizontally; ‘ACCEL’, an accelerating moving walk which is capable of moving people in metros and airports up to three times faster than conventional moving walks.”
 
At KONE too there are a number of innovations that have created a buzz in the market. The ‘KONE MonoSpace’ elevator revolutionized the industry in 1996 with the world’s first machine-room-less elevator. ‘KONE UltraRope’ is a revolutionary hoisting technology that enables elevators to travel distances of more than 1000 meters.
 
Luczak expresses how some of the innovations at KONE have changed the industry. “As new ecosystems emerge around smart buildings and cities, we believe this brings great opportunities. We are, for example, investing significantly in connectivity and diagnostics for our services to improve quality and predictability for our customers. For example, the agreement we recently announced with IBM will bring cognitive analytics to our services through the use of their Watson IoT platform,” adds Luczak. Shamsulhaq, says that on a positive side there is now more sustainability consideration while selecting the vertical transportation equipment. “On the downside, customers are sacrificing the quality of service by opting to get into agreements with third party providers who are not equipped to meet the requirements at a lesser price,” he adds.
 
 
Energy conservation and sustainable practices is a recent focus area in the market. KONE aims to be a leader in sustainability, and their Environmental Excellence program supports the ongoing transformation of the built environment into smart eco-cities, low carbon communities, and net zero energy buildings. “For us, sustainability is embedded in our organisational culture. It means a combination of offering our customers innovative solutions that are both energy and cost-efficient, and actions that reduce the adverse environmental impacts of our own operations. From an equipment point of view, our current volume elevators are up to 90% more energy efficient than our elevators from the 1990s. And over 90% of the materials used for manufacturing and packaging KONE elevators and escalators consist of metals that can be recycled at the end of product life cycle,” says Luczak.
 
With the GCC elevator and escalator market continuing to grow it is a positive sign that they are opening up to not only new innovations but also incorporate green technology.

 
 
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