Otis on the rise with latest elevator products in Mideast

Brand reaffirms commitment to the region with connected Gen2 Life elevator and the Skyrise product family

Having pioneered the concept of the elevator more than a century ago, the Otis brand needs no introduction. Historically, it has been as much Otis’ work on the high-speed elevator as it has been advancement in construction engineering that has made the modern skyscraper possible.

Take away the developments that the American brand has done over the years on transporting people up to heights safely, quickly and efficiently, and you may not have the modern high-rise skyline that is a feature of almost every city on the planet.

“It is well-known that Otis is the world’s leading manufacturer and maintainer of people-moving products, including elevators, escalators and moving walkways,” says Maged Nagib, vice president and managing director, Otis Middle East. “And now we have introduced our latest products and service initiatives in the Middle East, including the connected Gen2 Life elevator and the expanded Otis SkyRise product family. These new products mark the company’s continued commitment to the region, ensuring a safe and high-quality experience for passengers in the buildings they live and work in.”

The Gen2 elevator was the first product of its kind to replace conventional ropes with flat belts, and is one of Otis’ best-selling elevators ever with more than a half-million units sold worldwide. Nagib says that as more construction happens in the region, the latest version of the platform, the Gen2 Life elevator, will play a bigger role than ever in meeting the demand for modern, seamless elevators.

Demand is what Otis is used to seeing growing, both globally and especially in the Middle East. The company set up shop in the region very early and has now grown its presence to the furthest reaches.

“We have more than 35 branches in the region and we are committed to providing our customers with the best possible service. Despite the economic slowdown we are still growing in the Middle East and are committed to expanding our business here,” says Nagib.

“We have been here for decades – more than 70 years for some countries – which has enabled us to have better penetration. For example, in KSA we have opened many new branches and offices in the smaller cities to be nearer to our customers and to provide them with a better level of service. In fact, we are taking this opportunity of the relative economic slowdown to focus on our service levels and to improve the mechanical and skill levels of our people internally.”

The sector leader has a range of products between the elevator, escalator and moving walkways, which covers all the segments and needs of the market, from standard products to specially designed ones for a particular project, like a high-rise, he adds.

“The latest example of this is our Gen2 Life elevator, which we have recently introduced in the region, and the Skyrise. The first is the latest addition of our Gen2 range and is a without a machine room. It is also belt driven, instead of the normal traditional ropes. We replaced the normal wire ropes in the elevator system with a belt, which consumes less energy, saving you 40-60% of energy depending on use.”

The Gen2 life is also unique as it gives the architect more than 400,000 options in terms of aesthetics and finishes. It has a modern cab design and targets the residential market.

Otis also recently expanded its SkyRise product family, which, as the name suggests, is designed for tall, high-rise buildings. The first of its three main features is a permanent magnet motor, which has 35% less energy loss, as well as a smaller footprint compared to normal induction motors.

“It is also a Class-A energy saving device, because it incorporates what we call the Regen Drive, which recovers the power lost from the machine’s heat release machine and feeds it back to the building’s grid. This feature is standard on our Gen2 products and now we have it in the SkyRise line as well,” Nagib elaborates.

“The third feature is the Shroud System, an aerodynamic solution that mitigates the ‘piston effect’ in a high-rise elevator shaft and gives a smoother, better ride quality and more comfort. Then there is the Ultra Roller Guide, which is used on the guide rails to provide a much better ride quality.”

New to the SkyRise range is the SkyBuild construction elevator. In the initial stages of construction, the self-climbing SkyBuild uses a hydraulic piston system to move one floor at a time as the building rises. Construction teams can use it to move through the building quickly and safely, are not exposed to the weather and do not require an external lift. Once construction is complete, the SkyBuild transitions for immediate service as a SkyRise.

Speaking about the Skybuild, Nagib says: “One of the main challenges in the construction industry is to move workers vertically upwards in towers. You can use an external cage elevator like you see at job sites, but we came up with the SkyBuild, a construction use elevator – we call it the self-climbing elevator – that can rise with the building as it completes every stage and floor. When a new floor is being cast, this system can jump along with the new floor casting.

“We can introduce the Skybuild to a new construction site early, after a certain number of lower floors are built and the building has risen 30m. Then every time the building climbs higher by one floor, the elevator climbs with it. This allows contractors to move workers faster, more safely and efficiently.”

Otis has also brought the elevator to the connected age with smart features such as the Compass Plus – a destination dispatching system. Users enter their floor on a colour touchscreen keypad and the screen then tells them to go to a designated elevator number.

“With this you have a very efficient system that does the calculation to determine how to shorten your wait time and your overall journey time to your floor. So, the system assigns the dispatching of the elevator based on the call requests, and decides which elevators are going to serve the upper, lower and intermediate floors. It’s basically an elevator traffic management system that routes the elevators more efficiently for easier and faster travel,” says Nagib.

An added benefit of this is that it can be used to increase building security by linking it with a smart access card that visitors are given at the receptions of several buildings. With the floor code installed into the card, it can be swiped on the Compass Plus touchscreen and the system will then find the right lift to provide access to only the particular floor that the visitor needs to go to.

Still on traffic management, Nagib adds: “We also have another feature – the E-Call. It’s an app on your smartphone, which you can use when you enter the building. You enter your floor number on the app and call the elevator from your phone, which saves you a lot of time with greater connectivity.

Then there is One-Call, which is similar to the Compass Plus, but it is usually paired with the Gen2 Life when used in low rise residential applications. Its function is also to manage the traffic and direct users to the elevator that they need to use to get to their floors directly.

With such innovative technologies, it is no surprise that Otis has under its belt some of the biggest and most prestigious projects in the region. The best example, of course, is the Burj Khalifa, one of the most prestigious projects that Otis have been involved with.

“There were challenges during the design and construction phases, but we provided state-of-the-art technology for seamless service to the world’s tallest man-made structure. For example, our Skyrise double-deck elevator serves the tower’s observation deck. As the clock inside the elevator points, out it takes only 60 seconds to reach the level. Travelling at 10m/s, the elevators cover around 250 per day in terms of total distance travelled,” Nagib points out.

“In 2016 we achieved a milestone: clocking the total distance equivalent from the earth to the moon in its cumulative service life since its inception in 2010. We have a permanent Otis team stationed over there to take care of the 65 Otis lifts and eight escalators 24/7.”

Another landmark project for Otis in the region is at the Jamarat Bridge in Makkah, which often sees footfalls of more than a million during the Hajj.

“This is a huge number of people and it needs special attention. We have more than 300 units installed, mainly escalators. They are operational 24/7 and the challenge during Hajj is to ensure that none breaks down and we have max availability. We have our team of more than 200 skilled technicians there, dedicated to maintaining our products in Makkah that serve as key Hajj facilities running in top order. This is one of our notable projects in the region.”

Continued success: Otis selected for Riyadh Metro

Otis Saudi Arabia has been selected for the prestigious Riyadh Metro – lines 4, 5 and 6 – by FAST Consortium of companies, which is led by Spanish construction group FCC and includes partners Samsung C&T, Alstom, Strukton, Freyssinet Saudi Arabia, and is contracted by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh.

Otis will supply 256 escalators, six moving walkways, and 183 machine room-less elevators with travel speeds up to 1.0 metre per second, including fully glazed panoramic elevators. The heavy-duty escalators are specifically designed for public transportation.

The scope awarded to Otis comprises all elevators and escalators within the three lines of the metro for all stations across Riyadh, two train depots, and three car parking facilities over a total area of 72km. Otis, which operates in Saudi Arabia as Otis Elevator Company Saudi Arabia Limited, is part of a joint venture between Otis Elevator Company (New Jersey) and E.A. Juffali & Brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Riyadh Metro Project constitutes the backbone of the future public transit system in Riyadh. With six lines totaling 176km and 85 metro stations, the Metro network will serve most of the densely-populated areas, public facilities, as well as educational, commercial and medical institutions. It will be connected to King Khalid International Airport and King Abdullah Financial District, in addition to main universities and the downtown area.

“The Riyadh Metro will be one of the world’s biggest infrastructure projects, and we’re extremely proud to be part of this landmark project,” says Maged Nagib. “Otis is committed to Riyadh’s fast growth and high standards of efficiency and passenger comfort.”

“We are honoured that our equipment has been selected for this prestigious project,” adds Fernando Condinho, managing director, Otis Saudi Arabia. “The Riyadh Metro is a significant project for Saudi Arabia and its local community, and we are proud to be part of it.”


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