May 23, 2022
KONE’s mission to improve the flow of urban life usually brings to mind images of urbanites coasting on escalators or stepping into transparent elevator banks. We might not picture workers in hard hats armed with heavy tools and materials on building sites.
On average these construction workers spend far too much time waiting for materials and tools, with only a third of their time being productive. This presents an opportunity to drastically improve productivity, which is where the KONE JumpLift technology comes into its own, improving people and materials flow and accelerating building project completion by weeks and even months.
JumpLifts in high-rise construction projects are installed at the outset of construction and literally jump from floor to floor as the new buildings rise. Until recently the JumpLift technology didn’t exist for mid- and low-rise buildings, where workers still rely on stairwells and external hoists, which quickly causes capacity constraints. However, back in 2019, a team of KONE innovators started looking at ways to make the JumpLift scalable for any building project after several requests from clients in both China and Finland to enable the elevators for use before they were complete; they wanted to use them for improved material and people flow during construction time. This dialogue with the clients enabled speed and scale of innovation.
Markku Haapaniemi, senior expert, innovation engineering at KONE, was a member of that team.
“We wanted to see if we could bring that same productivity value to all our customers in everyday building projects and not just exotic skyscrapers,” he recalls.
The team quickly set up a customer dialogue among KONE R&D, innovation, and sales teams. They followed this with an onsite visit to China. “It was a real eye-opener,” Haapaniemi says, “to be getting real information on a real need, directly from the customer.”
Pilot made it rapid and real
Back in Finland, the KONE team of innovators floated the idea further to the business and sales teams, who quickly found a construction site in Kalasatama, Helsinki, where the concept could be piloted. Suddenly the project was real and the timeline was tight.
“It was amazing how having the customer pilot energized our team,” Matti Räsänen, leading expert, concept creation, at KONE, recalls, “because we realized that within a couple of months, we would need to finalize the designs, organize certifications for the designs, and of course make sure that our methods were safe and workable.” But then Covid hit.
Working around Covid with remote testing
Testing took place both in China and in Finland. Because the customer in China, China Merchants Shekou Ningbo Branch, was already closely aligned with the project, the team was able to successfully work around Covid constraints by having the protection deck and other tools tested in China at the Kunshan test tower. When Liftinstituut accepted the results, the solution became the first of its kind to be certified via remote video link.
Cross-functional collaboration was key
“Pre-launch solutions require so much trial and error, collaboration, and close dialogue already at an early stage,” Räsänen explains, “and we had this perfect triangle of KONE sales teams, in-house developers, and the customers, in Finland and China all working at speed towards the same goal and the same deadline. Another success factor was that feedback was collected and problems addressed quickly during the collaboration.”
Despite the pandemic, the team’s close collaboration won the day, and the new KONE JumpLift was born months ahead of expectations.
The project, Sanli Jiangyin, went on to install two KONE JumpLift elevators onsite and was completed ahead of schedule, with elevator transportation efficiency estimated to have been three times higher during construction.
Looking back Haapaniemi says, “The project taught us how important it is to engage early with multiple customers in multiple operating and cultural environments, to ensure a final product that is truly customer-need driven, both globally and locally.”