Cloud-Connected Elevators Expedite Service Calls

09/01/2017 | By Chris Olson

Elevator suppliers partner with computer and intranet firms to identify and visualize problems instantly


Using Microsoft’s HoloLens headset, technicians for thyssenkrupp elevator can see holograms of service history and other information in the foreground while leaving both hands free. | Photo by thyssenkrupp

Have you ever dreamed of having every service call for an elevator malfunction result in a prompt fix on the first try? Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities are helping to realize that dream. Several elevator companies are working with the likes of Microsoft and IBM to speed up service times and reduce downtime.  

thyysenkrupp elevator is using Microsoft’s HoloLens headset technology to give technicians on-site access to technical and expert information. 3-D hologram images are projected onto the headset’s lenses but the users can also see through the lenses, allowing them to work with both hands. In effect, the virtual information is in the foreground of the users’ vision and actual surroundings are the background.

The headset connects directly to the internet without a connection to a laptop. Speakers and microphones are built in.

Four cameras in the headset allow users to send real-time views of what they are working on. For example, if a technician in the field needs to consult with an expert in the office, the expert can see what the technician sees in the field. At the same time, the technician can conduct a video call with the expert via the headset lens.    

thyssenkrupp has also implemented a predictive maintenance solution based on Microsoft Azure, a cloud platform for IoT-enabled devices. Machine data on door movements, trips, car calls, etc. is collected from MAX-connected elevators around the world. The data is then analyzed in in the cloud to analyze operation and estimate remaining service life.   

Kone is using IBM’s Watson cloud platform for new maintenance capabilities. Real-time data from an array of sensors and controls is relayed to the cloud, where Watson evaluates it for anomalies. For example, if doors on a particular elevator are closing a little more slowly than usual or the cab is coming to rest a few millimeters off the floor, an alert can be sent to a technician, who in turn can make a service call with the necessary parts for a suspected problem before the elevator fails. Because the elevator can send data but not receive it, Kone says there is no possibility for the building system to be hacked.

The Schindler Ahead platform is powered by the GE Predix, an industrial operating system developed by Schindler partner GE Digital. Machine data from Schindler elevators and escalators are combined with the company’s global operations platforms for analysis that leads to actionable items for predictive maintenance. The cloud capabilities are enabled when an elevator is outfitted with Schindler’s CUBE, a small hardware box incorporating connectivity and computer components as well as cybersecurity software. The CUBE itself can perform data analytics and filtering functions, reducing the volume of information that is transferred to the cloud for analysis.

A variety of apps can be downloaded to the CUBE for use on the Ahead platform. These include Ahead Logbook, which manages equipment documentation and certificates, and Ahead ActionBoard, which shows equipment status and usage indicators. 

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