Lifts are surprisingly unreliable. According to figures from TÜV, a German safety inspection company, one person gets stuck in each lift per year on average. If the same figures apply for Belgium, at least 77,000 people would experience such a frightening experience every year. “That’s a logical consequence of the way the lift business works,” says Lars Odlen, General Manager of RQM. “The builder of an apartment or office building chooses the lift. The deciding factor for the builder is the cost of purchase. However, it is the subsequent owner of the building who pays the maintenance contract.” For that – often costly – maintenance, the owner gets little in return. That is proven by the large number of break-downs happening. Odlen comments, “The annual invoice is the main form of communication between the maintenance company and the owner of the building.”
We can do better though, in RQM’s opinion. The company has developed LiftLog, an application that connects the lift to the Internet. The LiftLog is a small m2m device that collects data about the lift and sends that by means of GPRS to m2m factory – the m2m platform that is a service of Proximus. From there the data is transmitted via a VPN tunnel to the cloud-based backbone of RQM, where the analysis of the data takes place. Based on that analysis, warnings, alarms and reports are sent to the owner of the lift. Odlen notes, “For an owner seeking to sell or lease his building, it’s important that he can show concrete, correct data about the lift to a potential client.” The data collected by LiftLog includes data about the number of movements of the lifts and the doors, the number and the duration of the interventions by the maintenance company, the number of times the emergency button was used, etc. Such data supports the dialogue with the maintenance company, which can improve the function and possibly lower the costs for the owners and tenants.
The owner has better oversight of the operation of the lifts via the information derived from LiftLog. Odlen comments, “If it’s apparent from the reports that only four of the six available lifts are being used, then the owner could choose to close two of the lifts in rotation. That way he can save on maintenance and increase the lifespan of the lifts.” In addition the LiftLog reports allow the owner of the lift to reverse the roles. “Currently maintenance companies sell contracts with a fixed number of service visits per year. That’s not very efficient, in light of the large number of breakdowns and people that get trapped in a lift every year.” Instead of paying for maintenance, the owner could choose to reimburse the maintenance company according to the uptime of the lift. It is a nice example of how the Internet of Things could completely change a business model.
Proactive is positive
RQM makes the information about a lift accessible to the owners. But the reports could just as easily help the maintenance company to improve their service. “Compare it to the maintenance of a car: the distance driven determines which actions are necessary. If you measure the intensity of the use of the lift, you’re much better able to proactively provide maintenance and reduce the risk of breakdown,” points out Odlen. Undoubtedly to be continued.
RQM (Remote Quality Monitoring) is entrepreneur Lars Odlen’s new company. The business has a team of three permanent employees, seven consultants and a network of subcontractors. RQM is based in Brussels.
Lars Odlen is a Swedish serial entrepreneur. In the 1990s he moved to Brussels when the lift company Kone moved its head office there. Over the past 15 years he has started and later sold six companies. He started RQM in 2014.