Business Info - issue 147 magazine 16 INTERVIEW owners wanted to understand the occupancy rate and the use of their building, but during the pandemic especially they wanted to understand if they were at risk of losing tenants. Having real time traffic information helped them understand this – they were able to drill down and see if some tenants had stopped using their rented floors. We created a dedicated offer for the pandemic (in place until the end of 2021 and possibly longer) that gives customers flexible pricing depending on the occupancy rate.We wanted to reflect the fact that if the equipment was being used less and less, it was also going to be less time-consuming for our engineers to maintain. Engineers still have to maintain the equipment every month, but we recognised that using IoT to measure likely wear and tear could have a positive impact on costs for the actual customer. Because our solution can be retrofitted to any type of equipment in any building, you can see how having flexible pricing, be it for a single building or multiple buildings, would make sense at a portfolio level. BI: In what other areas are you interested in deploying your IoT technology? TF: For now, we want to keep focusing on regulated maintenance and regulated equipment in buildings. There is still a lot that can be done on that front. All that equipment – the lifts, the automated doors, the escalators, the HVAC systems, the fire safety systems – is traditionally managed in silos and the providers of that equipment work in silos as well. They don’t integrate; they don’t generate and capture much data; and when they do, they don’t share it.We think there is great value to be captured if you have a single provider to take care of all those aspects. All customers tell us that the fewer intermediaries and providers they have the better. The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts. If, through the doors and the escalators and the lifts, you are able to generate traffic data and, through IoT, you also manage the HVAC systems, then you can reprogramme them to start heating up at 10 a.m. instead of 6 a.m., because you know that people only come in at that time. By leveraging the data you get from one type of equipment to impact another type of equipment, the building owner can save energy, save money and reduce the carbon footprint of the building. BI: Have the incumbent players in lift and escalator maintenance been slow to recognise the potential of IoT? TF: Incumbents in any sector that are not digital by nature are going to find it hard to pivot. They are trying to innovate and come up with new smart, connected products, but an asset owner with 100s of buildings in their portfolio doesn’t want to have to change every lift or escalator in every one of their buildings. They want something that can be installed effortlessly on the very first day of their contract which will provide data from across their whole portfolio. The real difference is that we think at the building level.We don’t think in terms of lifts or doors or escalators; we look at the big picture. I think that’s the major difference between us and the incumbents. BI: What are the constituent parts of your solutions? TF: Right now, we have three different solutions that share similar characteristics – one for escalators, one for fire and safety and one for lifts. In the near future, we are going to have a single solution and use the same modular base for every type of installation. This will act as a gateway, sending data from remote sensors to us. Today, each solution has a few specific things that help us gather data that we think is relevant. For example, the lift solution has an accelerometer; a laser that we use as a range finder to accurately measure the position of the cabin inside the shaft; sensors that check whether the doors are open or closed, how much time they take to open and close, things like that; and a small computer on board for edge computing purposes. Once we equip the lift, it needs to run for a little bit so that it can self-learn the normal values of the lift in question, such as door cycles, the amount of vibration, where each floor is located inside the shaft. The fire and safety solution is much more dependent on software, and we actually read the data from the fire alarm panels in real time for diagnostics, addressing issues with detection points around the building.When the fire and safety engineer comes to check the detection points and maintain the fire detection systems (e.g. by triggering all the pull points that you need to activate a fire alarm and gassing the detectors to make sure they are functioning properly), we give feedback on their app, so they don’t have to go back and forth to the panel and check whether or not they are triggering in the right areas of the building. ...continued