Smart Buildings

Going Up! Tracking the Rise of the Smart Elevator Market

Tall buildings are only possible with elevator technology and as our built environment continues to get taller and smarter, the elevator industry is beginning to find new roles to support occupants and facilities managers. In a market that hardly changed for decades, a new wave of startups has redefined what a smart elevator is, forcing established players to take notice. Elevators are being completely transformed by digital technologies, driving greater convenience and personalized experiences. These smart elevators utilize advanced algorithms, AI and ML to analyze real-time data to optimize operations and reduce waiting times. Equipped with sensors and IoT connectivity, these elevators offer predictive maintenance to maximize dependability and minimize downtime. While user-friendly interfaces, such as touchscreen monitors and mobile applications, improve the passenger experience. Historically, the elevator industry has been shaped by a small number of key OEM players, including Otis, Schindler, Kone and ThyssenKrupp —who have all introduced digital tools and technology-enabled solutions […]

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Tall buildings are only possible with elevator technology and as our built environment continues to get taller and smarter, the elevator industry is beginning to find new roles to support occupants and facilities managers. In a market that hardly changed for decades, a new wave of startups has redefined what a smart elevator is, forcing established players to take notice.

Elevators are being completely transformed by digital technologies, driving greater convenience and personalized experiences. These smart elevators utilize advanced algorithms, AI and ML to analyze real-time data to optimize operations and reduce waiting times. Equipped with sensors and IoT connectivity, these elevators offer predictive maintenance to maximize dependability and minimize downtime. While user-friendly interfaces, such as touchscreen monitors and mobile applications, improve the passenger experience.

Historically, the elevator industry has been shaped by a small number of key OEM players, including Otis, Schindler, Kone and ThyssenKrupp —who have all introduced digital tools and technology-enabled solutions for the maintenance and service business of their installed base.

Kone, for example, has introduced the concept of "virtual windows" in elevators, equipped with voice-activated controls, music streaming, news feeds, and more. Kone is also integrating their elevators with Amazon's Alexa for a range of services. Thyssenkrupp, meanwhile, has developed its MULTI system, which utilizes magnetic levitation technology to enable multiple cabins to move vertically and horizontally within a building.

Otis have embraced smart building integration with their Gen2 elevator system, which incorporates regenerative drives, energy-efficient LED lighting, and advanced digital monitoring for predictive maintenance. Schindler is focusing on digitalization and connectivity in their elevator solutions with the Schindler Ahead platform, which uses IoT technology to collect data from elevators and provide real-time insights for maintenance and performance optimization.

Integration with smart building systems is becoming a key differentiator for elevator manufacturers hoping to increase their share of the market. This integration allows for improved efficiency, enhanced passenger experience, and better maintenance and management of elevators. This wave of innovation has been driven by a number of disruptive startups that are winning new customers with their AI and IoT approaches to elevator technology.

Smart Elevator Market

Smart Elevator Startups

WeMaintain is a Paris-based French startup founded in 2017, and is one of the most disruptive new entrants to the smart elevator market. The company launched in the UK in 2020 and is currently rolling out its facilities maintenance offerings in APAC markets, through its Singapore office. They have received around $40 million in disclosed funding with a $36 million Series B funding round in June 2021.

“WeMaintain’s primary offering is focused on smart elevator & escalator work. However, their goal is to apply this approach to the maintenance of other critical building equipment such as fire and life safety systems. The acquisition of Shokly in 2021 has enabled them to roll out this offering in France and the UK,” explains our recent startups report. “Some of the world’s largest asset owners, such as Allianz, WeWork, the London DLR, and BNP Paribas are clients of WeMaintain in Europe. With a team of over 110 people, they have deployed their in-house IoT solutions in over 1,000 buildings.”

Uptime, is another French startup making waves in the sector. Founded in 2016, they develop predictive maintenance technology for independent smart elevator service providers. Uptime claims to have developed the only multi-brand device that connects directly to the lift control board, with a single cable. They have raised more than $11 million in external investment through two funding rounds. NOTE, Uptime, was rescued from receivership by Otis France in October 2022. 17 of the 66 employee posts were transferred to the new owner.

Digital Spine, is a Germany-based Proptech company founded in 2020. Their cloud software and IoT-based smart devices are enabling a platform-as-a-service business model and making elevator data increasingly transparent for predictive maintenance and increased smart elevator operation. In July 2022, the firm completed a Series A financing round with new investors Join Capital, Phoenix Contact Innovation Ventures, and the Goldbeck Family Office.

Simplifa is another German startup but focused on digital property management for elevators. Founded in 2013, the firm has developed its “LiftBook” service, a digital elevator management solution covering operational control and condition-based maintenance, which is also manufacturer independent.

These innovative startups are pushing the market towards greater integration, openness, and human-centricity of the smart elevator within the smart building.

“The elevator industry has undergone significant transformations to meet the evolving demands of modern society. With a focus on user-centric design, smart elevator designed for the elderly can prioritize safety, convenience, and independence for seniors. The integration of digital technologies has revolutionized the industry to be more independent in operations,” says Sebi Joseph, president of Otis India .

“These advancements demonstrate the industry’s commitment to creating inclusive, efficient, and sustainable vertical transportation solutions for the future.”

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