Alicia Bandala
Director General
KONE México

Going with the Flow in Vertical Buildings

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 14:38

By 2050, the WHO expects seven out of 10 people globally to be living in urban areas. The increasing scarcity of land in growing metropolises like Mexico City make it highly likely more people will be living in high rises. Moving all those residents up and down and in and out is a challenge. The solution, says KONE Mexico, is controlling the flow while also feeding sustainability. “Our people flow systems optimize traffic, reducing the size and number of elevators needed in a building, and seamlessly integrate elevators, building doors and turnstiles to provide maximum security while ensuring the smooth flow of people,” says Alicia Bandala, Director General of KONE Mexico. She says the company’s technology lowers elevator and escalator energy consumption, while reducing wait time for users.

“We can assess according to the volume of occupants, their needs and whether it is a shopping mall, office or residential space.”

KONE, which was founded in 1910, provides people flow solutions to the elevator and escalator industry. In 2015 it posted net sales of €8.6 billion and had close to 50,000 employees. The company sees opportunities in Mexico not just in new buildings but with the old as well. “Old buildings in some areas of Mexico City, for example, are being transformed to enhance their functionality,” says Bandala. “Mexico City neighborhoods like Juarez and Cuauhtemoc have beautiful old buildings and owners are now looking to locate space for elevators.” The company says its modernization solutions for upgrading  or replacing existing equipment meet or exceed the latest safety standards, improving reliability and user safety. “Our products are installed by professional technicians following strict modernization processes that include safety requirements,” she says.

Technology is not only giving new life to outdated systems, it is turning the simple lobby into high-tech zones. Smart lobbies, a relatively new concept, ensure the proper flow of people. KONE is introducing the technology to the Patio Revolución complex in Mexico City. “Our user- friendly, integrated access and destination solutions are designed to make it easy for people to move throughout the complex,” Bandala says. “Users can select their destination on a touchscreen panel or, for even greater convenience, they can make elevator calls directly from their mobile device. Developers are keen to bring this type of innovation to Mexico.”

A building may have been designed for 5,000 people and end up accommodating more than double that number. Issues such as congestion can arise in peak hours when capacity is surpassed. Bandala says that destination control systems can help ease the flow, as the program assesses, calculates and learns the user pattern. “Some buildings have elevators that open at the same time in the morning, as they learn to identify peak hours,” she says. “The entire concept of people flow solutions is one of the most significant assets of a building.” 

According to Bandala, KONE’s mission is to improve the flow of urban life. “We provide ease and effectiveness to users and customers over the full lifecycle of the building,” she says. “Even though land is becoming scarce, many old buildings offer opportunities for renovation. We are interested not only in megacities but also hospitality investments in different regions in Mexico.” KONE does not play a role in industrial construction but Bandala says areas surrounding those developments eventually will need infrastructure such as hotels, shopping malls, hospitals and access to other services. Bandala points out that in China, 600,000 new elevators are installed every year, while in Mexico, this number is only 4,000.