Escalating MAX to the next level: predictive maintenance for all

Since 2017, MAX-enabled elevators have been proving the value of IoT connectivity and turning predictive maintenance into a reality. Many countries are already benefiting from MAX and others will follow shortly. And the next big surprise is already here: IoT-connectivity for escalators.

Countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas are already experiencing the reality of predictive maintenance. MAX is the internet-of-things (IoT) solution for elevators. Elevator technicians are now arriving to fix elevators before there’s even a problem – and they come fully prepared with precise knowledge of what’s wrong and how to fix it. As IoT-connected elevators continue to gather data and MAX, the machine-learning solution, improves its ability to predict and prevent breakdowns, elevator users are experiencing less downtime and better mobility within buildings. But even more improvements are underway – and this state-of-the-art IoT solution is setting its sights on other mobility systems.

Get your head in the cloud

Big data, cloud connectivity, and machine learning. Pretty complex stuff. But the idea behind what these things can achieve for elevators is actually quite simple.

Elevators are equipped with sensors that connect to the cloud – they use a SIM card, just like your cell phone. A machine-learning process (powered by Microsoft Azure) “listens” for patterns and learns from them in order to recognize failure patterns. Once a pattern is recognized, it becomes possible to resolve the related failure before it ever occurs. Not only that, the elevator technicians are informed of what the failure is in advance, so they know exactly which tools and parts to bring with them. As a result of this “pre-diagnosis”, repairs can be carried out much faster and more efficiently.

Countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America are already benefiting from less downtime, faster and more efficient maintenance and a more than 50% reduction in customer calls. So far, MAX-connected elevators around the world have delivered an additional 95 million hours of in-service time to their passengers.

One World Trade Center benefits with MAX predictive maintenance

New digital tools

Elevator service technicians have recently been empowered with a special smartphone app, so they can receive critical alerts directly from the elevators themselves. The app also provides a virtual coaching function so they can arrive fully prepared, not just with the relevant tools, but with the exact knowledge of how to carry out the needed repair.

Building owners and facility managers are also immediately informed of issues, along with the assurance that an elevator technician is already on the way. They can choose to receive such messages via SMS, e-mail, or the MAX mobile app. Furthermore, the MAX mobile app and the MAX customer portal can now offer more detailed information to building managers, such as the maintenance status of all elevators, along with usage statistics and more.

MAX mobility for the entire building

Elevators aren’t the only mobility systems in buildings. Escalators and moving walkways are important, too. The efficient mobility of people in buildings and urban areas relies on the proper functioning of all of these. Large public buildings, such as train stations or malls, contain large numbers of mobility systems. If an escalator is not working, it can result in congestion at the elevators, which is a serious problem for anyone who cannot take the stairs.

That’s why MAX is currently expanding to cover escalators, too. Because when it comes to mobility in buildings, predictive maintenance will only keep everyone moving if it can cover all of the building’s mobility systems.

“We’ve been working with Microsoft and the elevator team to launch MAX for escalators, developing algorithms to meet the specific requirements of escalators. We already have MAX-enabled escalators in Spain, Germany and the USA, and we have more planned for Australia, France and other countries, too.”

Microsoft MAX
Fran Canteli, Global Electrical R&D Expert, Escalators, thyssenkrupp Elevator

Escalating the power of predictive maintenance

Unlike the original MAX solution for elevators, the “MAX for Escalators” project doesn’t have to start from scratch. This similar, but different solution can share a lot of the same resources (cloud & connectivity) and technical developments (e.g. the SIM card interface and the use of HoloLens), so the project was already at an advanced stage from day one.

According to Fran Canteli: “The specific interface to acquire data from escalator controllers needed to be developed from scratch. We are currently acquiring and processing data from the escalators in order to optimize maintenance and detect potential failures with time enough to react before a unit shuts down.”

For escalators, MAX will also provide real-time status updates in the customer portal and provide automatic alerts. Technicians will also have access to a virtual coach, so they’ll always be fully ready when they arrive at the scene. Canteli says, “the algorithms for predictive maintenance look very promising, and we’re already filing patents for these processes.”

Where MAX gets its wings

Can you think of another place where elevators, escalators and moving walks are absolutely essential to the mobility of people? The airport. Airports rely on these mobility systems to keep people moving across long distances quickly, efficiently, and without delay. MAX and predictive maintenance are of particular interest to airports: when everything runs smoothly, people keep moving and crowd bottlenecks are prevented, which makes everyone happier.

But there is another mobility system that could benefit from MAX at airports. A “passenger boarding bridge” is the moving corridor that connects departure and arrival gates directly to the airplanes’ doors. There’s no need to explain why these mobility solutions are so important to international human connectivity.

So, it should come as no surprise that TK Elevator is planning to launch MAX for passenger boarding bridges and thereby enable predictive maintenance for these vital arms of global mobility

Escalators at Lyon Airport depend on MAX
Lyon Airport
Lyon Airport