Kone prepares for new elevator behavioural patterns in Covid era

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on August 03, 2020

Amit Gossain, Managing Director, Kone Elevator

Social distancing will mean readying an array of solutions

Amit Gossain believes that dynamics in the elevator business are due to change in the post-Covid era as part of the new normal.

“Hotels and residential buildings have started seeking contactless solutions. People do not want to press a button and physical distancing is becoming more important,” says the Managing Director of Kone Elevator India.

It is precisely for this reason that the company recently introduced a host of new solutions for users of elevators in apartments, corporate offices etc. For instance, users can summon an elevator on WhatsApp and need not touch buttons or displays. Another initiative is the full load limit adjustment which ensures less crowding in the elevator. Likewise, the air purifier solution helps eliminate bacteria, viruses, dust etc.

“We have a team focussing on issues relating to Covid-19 at the technical centre. Load adjustment in elevators will soon be common in hotels and shopping centres. Contactless will also become the new norm,” he adds.

Additionally, manufacturers like Kone need to cope with changing construction norms in the real estate space. For instance, if new home designs focus on social distancing, there will be fresh challenges to contend with.

Yet, reiterates Gossain, safety cannot be compromised in the process. “We will stick to high-end products. An apartment sold with a Kone elevator is premium by the end of the day,” he says.

It is this bonding with customers that makes all the difference, according to him. For instance, the first few weeks of the lockdown were very difficult but the company’s technicians were constantly on the move to meet needs in apartments and hospitals.

“In one of the big buildings, as soon as work was done and the technician stepped out, the residents came out of their balconies and clapped. He was taken aback,” recalls Gossain. It is during times like these that people within the company feel truly motivated, he says.

Kone’s headquarters in Finland also ensured that their Indian team was prepared for the challenges arising from the pandemic since they had experienced it back home as well as in China. “They warned us even before we went into it and helped out with a lot of suggestions,” says the India MD.

WFH concept

People were not used to the work-from-home model and took time to get used to it. Soon, they warmed up to it and began enjoying the concept. “Finland told us what to do and we adapted these practices for India while following their processes. They gave us templates to cope with the situation,” says Gossain.

“Companies like ours have learnt that a lot can be achieved working from home. We are better focussed too,” he says. Yet, it is not as if this can apply to the entire workforce since there are customers who “still want to see people”. Likewise, housing societies prefer to see the supplier for direct negotiations.

In short, this means that 70 per cent of the manpower in Kone will still need to go in for the personal touch which includes people at the Chennai plant. The Finland headquarters has, meanwhile, cautioned in its latest half yearly report that the pandemic is “far from over and the level of uncertainty continues to be high”.

Covid impact

During the second quarter, Kone notes that Covid-19 has had the biggest impact in Europe, North America and several countries in Asia-Pacific. China, its largest market, “rebounded strongly” from a challenging first quarter. The company has warned that a sustained market decline in the Chinese construction industry could have an “adverse effect” on growth and profitability. Geopolitical tensions and protectionism also add to the risk factor.

They could impact the competitiveness of the Kone supply chain, leading to increased costs from trade and customs tariffs. A significant portion of its component suppliers and global supply capacity is located in China. The majority of components used in Kone’s supply chain are sourced from external suppliers.

“A failure to secure the needed components or resources or quality issues within these could cause business disruptions and cost increases,” says the report. In the first half of 2020, Covid-related government restrictions caused some disruptions to Kone’s operations “especially in China and India” and there is a risk of further disruptions globally depending on how the pandemic develops.

Published on August 03, 2020

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