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Urbanisation is forcing the world to rethink people-flow infrastructure

The demands of mobility-friendly cities are driving global elevator giants to adopting change and prepare for the future

Oscar Rousseau is deputy editor of Construction Week.
© ITP Media Group
Oscar Rousseau is deputy editor of Construction Week.

With the number of people living in the Middle East continuing to rise as the global population grows unabated, people-flow movement will require constant reinvention to continue its path of elevation.

In 1950, it was estimated that around 2.6 billion people inhabited the planet. Today, the number stands at more than 7.7 billion, and the United Nations believes the global population will reach 11.2 billion people by the year 2100.

This unprecedented rate of growth is already presenting profound social, economic, environmental, and infrastructural challenges for cities, both of the present and the future. However, the urbanisation megatrend also presents opportunities for manufacturers of people flow equipment, and these companies will play a key role in alleviating the pressure on cities struggling to cope with growing mobility needs.

For instance, German machinery supplier Thyssenkrupp is restructuring its business in light of economic uncertainty and business evolution in the global market. The new Thyssenkrupp Industrials will comprise of the firm's elevator, automotive, and engineering division, and Thyssenkrupp Materials will oversee its steel manufacturing unit.

The restructuring activity will make Thyssenkrupp – which wrapped up 2018 by completing its biggest-ever package in Bahrain – "leaner, faster, and better", its newly appointed chief executive officer believes.

Mobility needs are compelling product innovation in the people-flow sector [© Thyssenkrupp].

The future-first approach is also benefiting Kone Corporation, which picked up new work the GCC last year on projects such as Dubai Hills Mall. In a sign of the growing role of automation in construction, Swiss-headquartered Schindler debuted a self-climbing robotics system for high-rise elevators called Rise in Dubai last year.

Change is also reflected in product designs, especially as 'super-talls' such as the 1km Jeddah Tower in Saudi Arabia and Emaar’s Creek Harbour Tower in Dubai take shape. Traditional rope-based elevators may be meeting their limit, and in the town of Rottweil, Germany, a rope-free elevator that can move in four directions is being tested. The lift may transform the future of building design when it launches in 2022.

Cloud-based computing is playing an important role in people-flow management as well. Kone has launched a cloud-based system that uses sensors to collect data around the clock. This information is then fed into a predictive analysis machine that explores ways of preventing equipment breakdowns and improving elevator efficiency.

Elevators are an important part of the real estate industry, and as the GCC's awareness of retrofitting grows, people-flow movement will also become more efficient. Local builders must be prepared for this trend. Regardless of how the construction industry feels about it, change is on the way, and firms that are willing to adapt will be successful in the years to come.

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019