Business Scenario Post Covid19
By Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India
COVID-19 has impacted all industries in one way or another. The real estate industry, the third largest employer in India according to data, feeds multiple industries including the elevator industry, too has been impacted.
The COVID situation helped emphasize the necessity of elevators and soon the field teams became part of the essential services needed to keep first responders moving during the lockdown. Thankfully, servicing facilities like apartment buildings and hospitals in this period continued. Field experts were reassigned units based on where they live, to respond to call-backs within the same vicinity, to reduce travel times for the employee while ensuring faster response time for the customer. Most of our office staff began working remotely in accordance with the country’s lockdown. Focus teams were formed to maintain business continuity and develop a safe and healthy processes for a full return to work.
Like any adversity, COVID also presents prospects to improve ourselves and our company. This situation will help businesses across verticals to embrace technology. Almost all functions will be facilitated with the help of Artificial Intelligence. For the same reason, we are working closely with customers to understand how their needs are shifting and identifying what product features and services are most beneficial to them. To address their needs, many players have introduced the use of eCall app which enables passengers to use their cell phone as their personal elevator call button and call an elevator when approaching it. This helps minimize the passengers’ use of public access elevator buttons. Also, destination dispatching system groups passengers headed for the same destinations into the same elevators, thereby reducing wait and travel times. While we are working on near term and short-term solutions, our focus remains on longer term solutions like digital technologies which will take the industry to the next level. Apart from driving efficiency, quicker resolution and transparency, digitalization and IOT will also serve the need for remote maintenance service. We continue to remain focused and commit our investments towards these programs.
Elevator and escalator purification products are also gaining popularity. Elevators can be retrofitted with a fan technology that can inactivate microorganisms and filter dust within the cab. The fan integrates an ion generator and ultraviolet lamp to kill germs and filter dust within the cab. Similarly, handrail sanitizers for escalators have become prominent offerings in the market.
With regards to installation work, teams are in constant touch with the customer to comprehend their reopening schedules and priorities. The industry has set up and are constantly reviewing SOP’s for work places like retooling, hygiene kits, social distancing, to ensure that it is in line government guidelines and industry best practices. Regular communications with suppliers and our field workforce will be particularly critical to help them adopt new ways of operating and working.
I see the maintenance business as being strongly resilient to whatever the future may hold. While there may be some delayed demand to discretionary projects in this post-COVID world, the industry is well-positioned for sustained, long-term growth with strong fundamentals, backed by macro trends such as urbanization and digitalization. Also, the very definition of normal may change. At this point in time we are seeing certain behaviors. Over a period of time we will have to assess which will stay for the long run and which will fall through. However, the COVID pandemic will push the elevator industry to embrace technology at a faster pace.
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