Mobility Technology Enables Safe Return to Public SpacesBy Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 01/19/2021 - 12:32
Q: What are the objectives of Schindler’s CleanMobility initiative?
A: COVID-19 affected all the sectors we work in. It was clear that we needed a plan to adapt quickly to the problems arising from the pandemic. We are privileged to work globally and have offices in most countries. That allowed us to track the evolution of the pandemic very accurately throughout the year. We had teams all over the world sharing ideas on how we could tackle this global crisis. It became a dual question: How can we protect our users in a way that also protects our personnel from this virus? The CleanMobility initiative is our answer to that question.
One of the main methods we have applied to this initiative is called “Contact Free Access.” We were already developing similar technologies before the pandemic began. Among the technologies that we invented a long time ago was “anticipated summon” or “elevator scheduling.” Elevators equipped with this technology are quite common in recently built malls and office buildings in Mexico. The technology lets you choose the floor you want to visit before entering the elevator. Once we implemented this technology, it also allowed us to get involved in the development of identification keycards and the remote summoning systems that they are linked to. Overtime, this has led to a significant number of new buildings and commercial spaces supported by an infrastructure that we implemented based on our technology called PORT. This infrastructure uses keycards assigned to personalized profiles with specific elevator calls. This was already in place before the pandemic and it gave us a platform through which we could implement more contact-free solutions. Other solutions that we have developed in response to the pandemic include contact-free buttons. For the sake of regulatory compliance related to people with disabilities, these buttons can be pressed by hovering your fingers above them without touching them.
Another solution we have developed and whose implementation we are now accelerating is the connectivity between our elevator and the IoT networks that surround them. Our most recent product lines include options to connect the elevators’ system to users’ mobile phones so they can call for the elevator directly from their phone using an app. These solutions are easily applicable to our newest models, but most of our installed capacity consists of older models. With that in mind, our teams have been developing technologies that can adapt the touchless modalities of this initiative to older models. This includes new keypads and buttons attached to older versions to enable remote and contact-free calling.
Q: How are sanitary concerns related to concerns for automation?
A: These sanitary concerns existed in our sector before the pandemic, which brought them to the forefront. For example, our escalators have addressed sanitary concerns through the installation of a UV light filter that automatically cleans the escalator’s handrail as it moves. This solution had been developed with sanitary concerns in mind previous to the pandemic. These included the spread of E. coli. We had tested and validated the technology’s effectiveness against this and other pathogens before the pandemic began. Other similar protections include antimicrobial nanolayers covering button surfaces. These are very complex technologies that have been in development for many years and have been adapted to recent circumstances
Q: How are you addressing sanitary regulations that require fewer people to enter elevators?
A: These regulations represent an enormous challenge for us, especially because once an elevator or a system of elevators is installed, the hardest thing to change is their size and their speed. The faster the elevator travels, the greater the space it requires in the building to make space for new elevator mechanisms that enable that speed, and this space is usually impossible to procure. This does not even consider regulation that can prevent these kinds of changes from taking place, or at least discourage them. We are creating solutions to address these limitations. The PORT technology, for example, can provide the system with more and better information in regard to the number of people using the system and how they are using it.
Schindler is a leading global provider of interior mobility solutions for buildings and facilities, such as elevators and escalators. It also plays a significant role in establishing the sector’s safety, technology and design standards.