Kone on the benefits of People Flow Intelligence

David Jones explains how Kone’s people-flow intelligence (PFI) technologies are helping to improve the efficiency and productivity of buildings across the Middle East

Kone’s PFI systems can be applied to both new and existing buildings.
Kone’s PFI systems can be applied to both new and existing buildings.

Elevator systems play a vital role in effective people-flow management, but they are by no means the only contributing factor. With roots stretching back more than a century, Finland-headquartered Kone is internationally renowned for its elevator and escalator systems. But as David Jones, Kone’s regional technical sales support manager for modernisation, explains, true People Flow Intelligence (PFI) – whether in the new-build or retrofitting segment – requires a holistic approach to design.

“PFI needs to be considered in two distinct sectors: new construction and existing buildings,” he begins. “From a new-build perspective, it must form part of the concept and design philosophy. A building lacking in effective people-flow will be unproductive and, potentially, uncompetitive.

“Conversely, it is clear that many existing buildings suffer from rather poor people-flow, and the long waiting times that can result often lead to frustration. PFI is more than a vertical transportation analysis. We should be thinking in terms of horizontal and vertical flow for the life of the building, including any potential change of use. Intelligent people-flow planners are able to anticipate and prepare for change of use.”

Of course, all designers – and especially building owners and operators – would aspire to these standards, but the practical implementation of effective PFI requires diligence and expertise.

Jones explains: “Whether for new-build projects or existing structures, analysis is the key to effective PFI. In the Middle East, it is not uncommon to encounter poor building utilisation and elevator waiting times in excess of 15 minutes, and this is usually the result of overly optimistic elevator occupancy parameters.

“Unfortunately, this level of inconvenience is not limited to older buildings; it can sometimes be seen in premises that are two or three years old. Arrival times are frequently used for up-peak calculations, but what about getting out of the building at the end of the day, or in the event of a fire? PFI works in both directions.”

With this in mind, Kone has developed a selection of advanced vertical and horizontal analysis and planning methods that can be applied to both new and existing buildings. For in-use premises, this may involve actual in-elevator people mapping as opposed to theoretical elevator capacities. For the horizontal element, Kone is able to produce heat maps of congested areas.

“This can also be done at the design stage for new buildings,” Jones explains. “The Kone people-flow planning process will analyse all of a building’s access- and exit-related factors, and physically simulate people movement by animating what actually happens based on real-life data.”

But does the implementation of PFI change in accordance with the height or area of a building? In Jones’s opinion, it absolutely does; there is no silver bullet when it comes to true PFI.

“Each building must be taken on its own merits,” he notes. “There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to PFI. Early engagement in the concept and design stage of new-builds can save time and money. Leaving it too late can limit the options for people-flow improvement, and not considering it at all can lead to insecurity. Safety and security are key focusses at Kone.

“Another priority is comfort, ensuring that people enjoy a safe, smooth, and efficient journey through a building. For high-rise structures, elevator groups must be zoned correctly; units must be able to handle a building’s population with minimal waiting times and efficient travelling durations.

“Take, for example, Kone’s Destination Control System, which works intelligently to group passengers in line with their intended destination. This system minimises the number of unnecessary stops, as not everybody has to be dropped off. In turn, it reduces energy consumption, extends the lifespan of equipment, and cuts time to destination and return time to the lobby.”

Turnstiles can also help to reduce lobby congestion by making the destination call on behalf of the visitor, Jones adds. “Having many people press the destination floor can create a kettling effect. It also prevents people from leaving the elevator, thus creating further delays,” he explains.

Kone has deployed its PFI technologies at numerous high-profile projects in the Middle East, including Aldar HQ and Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Vision Tower, Al Fattan Currency House, and One Central in Dubai, UAE; Al Mana Tower in Doha, Qatar; and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel in Saudi Arabia. Although retrofitting can pose certain challenges when it comes to PFI, Kone’s systems can be applied to existing structures – even those that feature the products of its competitors.

“Kone can apply any and all of its solutions to existing buildings,” says Jones. “What is fascinating is that we can even apply these technologies to other manufacturers’ equipment. This is advantageous because it means that existing premises can benefit from the latest PFI technology. Nevertheless, it’s important to break with convention. Owners and operators must appreciate that each building is unique and will require a study based on its own aspirations and pain points. Only by following this strategy can we determine what is possible and beneficial.”

Jones cites London’s Canary Wharf as an example of this approach. A new tenant planned to move into one of its office buildings, leading to an rise in population. The building’s existing lift-management system could not handle this growth, and waiting times increased.

“Kone stepped in and modernised the control systems,” recounts Jones. “We implemented destination control and group logic technologies, which allowed for a 32% population increase without the need to increase the existing lifts’ speeds or loads.”

In the Middle East, Kone’s immediate priority is to extoll the virtues of PFI technologies to regional customers.

“For Kone, 2017 will be about education,” Jones tells Construction Week. “We would like our stakeholders in the Middle East to be more informed about the possibilities and advantages that can result from PFI. This is a constantly changing, and challenging, market. Kone’s main priority is to cater to the region’s unrelenting demand for more efficient buildings through education.

“By engaging with design teams, developers, building owners, and facilities managers, we can ensure that Kone’s solutions not only resolve existing issues, but also support future developments. In doing so, we can help our customers to protect their assets and investments.

“Technological disruption, urbanisation, and increasing user expectations are constant features within our cityscapes,” Jones concludes. “We must respond in a way that meets those challenges.”

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