Kone brings elevator maintenance online with IBM Watson and Salesforce

Lift manufacturer is using sensors and artificial intelligence to support its maintenance staff

Finnish lift and escalator manufacturer Kone is using real-time sensor data to manage its equipment base better and keep field service technicians a step ahead with maintenance.

More of the company’s equipment will be connected in coming years.

“We feel this is a game-changer in the overall ecosystem of elevators, escalators and doors,” Kone CIO Antti Koskelin told Computer Weekly. “What we mean here is that within the next few years, we will connect even more of our equipment with real-time data that will enable us to understand how it behaves, how it is used, and what kind of issues there might be.”

The launch of Kone’s 24/7 Connected Services in February follows a multi-year agreement the company signed with IBM in 2016. The deal covers the use of IBM Watson cloud and analytics tools to connect, remotely monitor and manage Kone’s global maintenance base of lifts, escalators, doors and turnstiles.

The service uses the cloud platform to collect data from lift sensors and taps into Watson’s cognitive skills to monitor and analyse the information in real time. This enables Kone to spot any potential problems quickly, resulting in less downtime and fewer faults, while maintenance work can be planned based on real equipment needs.

Kone is also working with customer relationship management (CRM) company Salesforce to modernise its field service systems by adding Salesforce’s Service Cloud Lighting and Field Service Lightning tools.

“We will have real-time connections with the equipment and that is what we do with our IBM Watson IoT platform,” said Koskelin. “Then what we are going to do with our Salesforce platform is that we are able to connect this information to the field service.”

For example, if a lift gets stuck somewhere, the nearest field technician with the right tools and spare parts can be identified and alerted quickly. Or, for less critical issues, the technician will have the latest information about what to look for on their next scheduled maintenance call.

The aim is give Kone’s service workforce – in customer care centres and more than 20,000 technicians in the field – a single view of the latest information about the customer and their equipment.

Kone is also using application programming interfaces (APIs) to open up its internet of things (IoT) platform for third-party developers and new user services. The company is currently trialling a reception service  developed by Estonian startup Indoor Ninja in which a visitor can sign in on a tablet and walk into a lift that is automatically called for them after their host has authorised the visit.

Kone’s 24/7 service is currently being piloted in selected customer segments, and a US launch is planned in the coming months. Koskelin expects the service to be rolled out in more than 10 countries during 2017, and the Salesforce platform will begin to be introduced at the end of the year.

The move will have a major impact on Kone’s operations – in 2016, services made up 45% of the company’s €8.8bn annual revenue. .........................................................................................................

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