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AI and IoT to enhance HK escalators

Since the advent of elevators and escalators in the late 1800s, they have been the key enabler in the vertical development essential to the urbanization of the world’s cities. They play an essential role in moving people through cities, according to the Executive VP for Asia-Pacific at a major Finnish engineering company.

People use elevators and escalators in their daily commutes to work, to move between floors in their workplaces and to shop; in some cases, it is a mode of transport to save the time of walking from point to point.

An example of this is the Central – Mid Levels escalator in Hong Kong (considered the world’s longest outdoor escalator), a length of over 800 metres, transports residents from their homes in Mid-Levels to their offices in Central financial district.

The design of elevators and escalators likewise has evolved over the years. Escalators offer more design choices than elevators. With the advent of arched- and spiral-shaped varieties, particularly.

Using IoT and AI to transform escalators

Over the last decade, advances in AI and IoT have changed elevators and escalators beyond their mechanical function of getting people to travel up high-rises with speed and comfort. They have become more intelligent, connecting to the cloud where the data they collect is analysed and stored.

The right technologies must be put in place that enables smooth, safe and efficient people flow. Smart elevators and escalators are intelligent machines that can generate data, identify problems and make decisions on maintenance issues and operational patterns in real-time based on IoT and artificial intelligence.

The engineering firm’s 24/7 Connected Services leverages IoT-based monitoring technology to its elevators and escalators to predict maintenance issues in real-time and integrate destination control systems to elevators.

The IBM Watson IoT Platform can monitor elevator performance based on set parameters and data can be sent to a cloud in real-time. The 24/7 Connected Services can also identify peak periods of elevator usage.

Furthermore, application programming interfaces (API) can be developed to create solutions within an integrated ecosystem.

The firm has released most of its APIs in the public domain to facilitate integration and installation for both its developers and partners.

Applying IoT in elevator/escalator design and operation

One of the keys uses of IoT in the elevator and escalator industry is in predictive maintenance. Maintenance can be disruptive to the movement of people within buildings, especially at times of unexpected breakdowns. IoT enables elevator and escalators to share their performance data and predict maintenance issues quickly without the need of a human technician to visit the site itself.

The firm’s technicians are now able to analyse and accurately identify problems before visiting the elevator/ escalator site.

Applying AI to elevator/escalator design and operation

Artificial intelligence is helping operators better anticipate problems and manage the flow of traffic for elevators and escalators throughout the lifecycle of their equipment based on data collected from daily usage.

The firm not only synthesises incoming data but also allows technicians to predict and suggest resolutions to detect potential problems before they manifest.

This data is shared in real-time from elevators and escalators to both the firm’s maintenance teams and its customers in which both parties are able to predict and solve potential problems based on the data transmitted.

As more data is collected and stored in the cloud, artificial intelligence will be able to make better decisions and determine when should maintenance be carried out and what action should technicians take to resolve the problem.

Using AI helps technicians reduce the downtime of elevators/ escalators in the long-term as they can identify the potential problem beforehand and fix it in a single visit.

In the medium term, the firm hopes to gather more data from equipment operations and through artificial intelligence. The data will be analysed data to make better business and operational decisions thus reducing the number of breakdowns, energy usage while ensuring that elevators arrive on time to bring them quicker to their destination.

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