Kone, a global leader in the elevator and escalator industry, is keenly looking at expanding its presence in the GCC and Africa, where its solutions have found a niche in some of the most prestigious projects under way.
Speaking to Gulf Construction, Mohamed Samaha, Regional New Business Director, Kone Middle East and Africa says the company sees long-term growth potential in the region.
“We see many potential markets to expand our presence in the Gulf region. We are closely observing the post-pandemic recovery trends in several markets,” he says.
Kone has been present in the region since the mid-70s through distributor territories or as a direct operation by the company. The premier elevator and escalator manufacturer – which offers low-rise to high-rise elevators, escalators auto-walks and automatic doors – provides solutions and services to new construction, modernisation of existing buildings and maintenance services.
“Throughout the years, we have kept our customers at the centre of our focus in everything we do, which has had a great return for us being leaders in our industry within this region,” he adds.
Samaha indicates that Kone’s most popular product in the region is the MonoSpace elevator, which was a breakthrough invention by the company in the late 90s, enabling machine-roomless elevators. The product, amongst others, is being installed in some of the prominent high-rises in the region including the B4 Grande and the Address Harbour Point, both in Dubai, UAE.
Kone is currently supplying 17 elevators to the 287-m B4 Grande, a new high-end residential tower located in the Opera Downtown District of Dubai. The 72-storey skyscraper will accommodate 882 luxury apartments as well as amenities and retails outlets on the promenade level.
“To enable smooth and safe people flow for the 1,000 residents using the building daily, Kone will deliver 13 Kone MiniSpace elevators, three Kone MonoSpace elevators, and one Kone Motala elevator. Additionally, the building will be equipped with a Kone Infotainment screen and Kone E-Link, a facility management tool designed to secure the best possible tenant service quality in the building,” Samaha says.
B4 Grande is being developed by Emaar Properties. The main contractor is China State Construction and architectural services are provided by WSP.
Elaborating on the Address Harbour Point, he says the project is located in close proximity to Dubai’s Creek Marina and downtown Dubai and comprises two towers, which are 212 m and 255 m in height.
“For smooth and safe flow of residents and guests, Kone will deliver 11 Kone 3000S MonoSpace elevators and 14 Kone MiniSpace elevators. Additionally, the building will be equipped with Kone E-Link,” he says.
Kone solutions are being installed at a number of other landmark projects in the region including the 385.8-m Iconic Towers under construction in the New Administrative Capital of Egypt and the Central Bank of Iraq headquarters, designed by Zaha Hadid.
The 80-storey Iconic Towers, which contains 60 Kone units, is set to be the tallest building in Egypt and all of Africa.
Meanwhile, the 35-floor high-rise building for the Central Bank of Iraq, which is located on the Tigris River, is being equipped with 22 Kone elevators and one escalator with the E-link system. The elevators speed goes up to 6 m/s and rise to a height of 163 m. Construction is estimated to be complete by the end of 2022.
New product development is a key focal area at Kone in its bid to stay ahead of the market. Among its recent innovations is its first digitally connected elevator – the Kone DX Class elevator (Digital Experience). Last year, Kone won four Red Dot product design awards for its Kone DX Class elevators.
“Released two years ago, the elevator has built-in connectivity, enabling almost anything to be connected to the elevator ensuring better people flow and new innovations with endless possibilities ranging from connecting smart watches, robots, drones, wheelchairs or even the mind. An elevator ride in the Digital Experience Car in the DX Class elevators is also an unforgettable experience,” says Samaha.
The connectivity also enables many value-added services for its customers, such as the ‘24/7 Connected Services’, which ensures a real-time observation of the equipment performance and enables predictive maintenance needs. Included also is Kone Information screens, another feature that allows the facility management to stream news feeds, promotional campaigns or important memos to the tenants, he adds.
Kone last month announced that it has developed a new technology solution designed to enable wheelchair users to navigate modern buildings more easily by connecting elevators and wheelchairs.
The connected wheelchair concept is being developed following its selection as the winning idea from Kone’s DX Experiments competition, launched in January 2021 to identify new innovative ideas on what to connect to an elevator. The competition attracted 460 new ideas.
The solution will enable a wheelchair to be integrated and connected to Kone’s elevators via its API (application programming interface) platform, allowing it to also work with other applications within a smart building management system.
The winning idea came from a French entrant and was inspired by the difficulties faced by care home residents when moving around the facility. The innovative concept aims to aid mobility and building navigation, reducing waiting times and friction, allowing users’ wheelchairs to alert an elevator to their arrival or schedule an elevator when they need, taking them to the correct floor.
The technology is being created to work with smart wheelchairs or as a solution which can be retrofitted to existing wheelchairs. The design could mean that in the future, facilities such as care homes or other smart buildings could produce a better on-demand service for wheelchair users.
Chief Technology Officer Maciej Kranz says: “The Kone DX Experiments competition has been a great example of what we can achieve through collaboration, partnership and working with our market leading connected solutions.
“The winning concept will start with a wheelchair connected to a Kone DX Class elevator, and with our platform it can be expanded further, as we continue to explore how we can make smart urban environments work for everyone.”
“There are almost no limits to what we can do; using our existing technology we can connect to almost anything, making creative solutions like this possible,” he adds.