Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Smartlifts (Making Lifts Smart for More Connected and Intelligent Services.)
Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2015-04-30
Merak SL Telecomunicacions i Sistemes wants to completely digitalise a central means of mass transportation: lifts. Concentrating their technological advantages; such as the digitalisation of signals in the design of high speed net connection and the integration of advanced features into a single terminal, into one concept SmartLifts. It consists of a software –hardware service containing a gateway, audios modules, sensors and a management platform which synthesize connectivity and security within lifts. Thus, increasing safety and reducing maintenance cost and also shifting from the conventional lift emergency systems based in landline telephone communication towards a smarter lifts emergency system.
SmartLifts will allow the lift industry to migrate from existing fleet of analogue emergency telephone modules to a more versatile and efficient solution to incorporate a new technological culture in the lift fleet management and create a safer experience for millions of people who use lifts on a daily basis. Over the last three months Merak has designed a strong business plan, based in a SaaS maintenance service that will allow the remotely control of a company´s lifts fleet and improve all services provided by a lift maintenance company.
The economic feasibility of SmartElevator has also been widely analysed and the results show that the business model is viable (EBITDA margin = 18% after 6 years in the market).
It is important to mention that after market research and examination of international and national trademarks, the name of Smartlift was changed to SmartElevator. Smartlifts, in plural, was already registered, in the Spanish and European harmonization offices for the internal market. Smartlifts is the name of a product and a Spanish company, also working in the vertical transportation industry. Thus, Merak decided to change the name in order to avoid any intellectual property violations.
The outputs of each one of the tasks demonstrate that SmartElevator management communication suite is free to operate. During the execution of this action we have been able to compare our solutions with others. Similarly, we have studied similar hardware-software solutions in order to have them as references for further development and commercialization activities. That said our hardware/software service still shows to be innovative and relevant in the current market with room for development in order to offer a fully tele-diagnostic of the 74 (70 in case of certain EU countries) hazards that could affect lifts performance.
Furthermore, a work plan for future steps has been developed, which involves the presentation of a Phase II proposal. The first stage of Phase II is devoted to carry out the modifications needed in the existing cabin audio electronics to connect it to the new set of sensors and the smart camera, and to study options to enable high speed net connection between the cabin and the control panel. In parallel, the existing software will be further developed to store all the incidences, plus a mobile app to control in-situ repairs. When all the systems have been developed, the new lift control and alarm system will be integrated and pilot tested will be carried out in at least two different lift environments (residential and business buildings).
The current report is an overview of the work done during the execution of this phase 1. In the proposal five tasks where defined: market assessment, legal framework, business environment, IPR issues and business plan. Each one of this task served for the preparation of a feasibility study, which is the main output of this phase 1 and also is the starting point to prepare a phase 2 proposal.
During the execution of phase 1, a refinement of the existing hardware was carried out. Identifying new sensors to the existing hardware to monitor some of hazardous situations mentioned at the SNEL EN 81-80: 2003 European Standard as well as “Recommendation” 95/216/EC. At the moment, SmartElevator is based on an existing prototype that consists of a hardware-software solution with two main parts: a hand-free audio module that is installed in the elevator car and a module (gateway) incorporating 2G and 3G mobile technology that is installed in the elevator machine room. The future hand-free audio module could also be enabled with high speed net connection, thus improving data transfer between the cabin and the control panel. Currently, the connection to the audio module is performed by digital audio through CAN-BUS (controller area network) and the gateway offer connectivity to manoeuvre through standard data interfaces for remote telediognosis through M2M technology. The software solution is based on an open source web platform.
Figure 1 shows the basic functioning of the existing prototype, which is composed by the following steps:
Merak´s software (Figure 2) has been further developed taking into account other software solutions offered by competitors and the sensors that the new hardware will include. Based on the competition, key market applications were defined and target market was identified. The SmartElevator service will predominately target small and medium lifts service providers in Spain and open up to other European countries in the coming years. Risks such as; market resistance, product misinterpretation, strong market diversification and changes in legislation, were identified and a contingency plans were designed. Regarding IPR issues, a trademark registration search was carried out and identified that Smartlift was already an existing European product and brand. Therefore, the name of this hardware-software solution was changed to SmartElevator. Lastly, an updated business plan, as well as detailed work plan for phase 2 execution has been created.
1.1 Market Assessment
Throughout the last 20 years, Merak has been dedicating it’s time to design useful and safe telecommunication systems for the lift industry, producing reliable and technological advanced products that are accessible to everyone. In emergency situations, like in case of entrapment, Merak devices have always performed impeccably. From this accumulated experience, in the next 10 years we are getting ready to make a qualitative leap forward: Merak aims at becoming a strong European provider for intelligent and thorough lift communication services that contribute efficiently to the management of lift fleets and guarantee an optimal end-to-end service of medium and small maintenance companies to their clients.
Currently, Merak has around 15 strong competitors in Europe, from which, four are strong worldwide lift manufacturers: ThyssenKrupp, Otis, Kone and Schindler. To be able to compete with the large lift manufacturers, now moving towards the tertiary sector, Merak will need to offer a cost-effective and interoperable service to differentiate itself from these strong market actors. Moreover, Merak´s target market is small and medium companies, instead of large corporation buildings, which are lift manufacturers main clients. Merak´s clients will be small and medium maintenance companies that will offer Merak´s SaaS solution, thus allowing them to provide a cheaper and more effective maintenance and monitoring service for their clients´ lift fleets. Merak is targeting small and medium companies to offer a more customised and personalised service.
Merak has other competitors: Avire-Memco (UK), 2N (Czech Republic), Esse-TI (Italy), Peters Research (UK), Safeline (Sweden) and MicroKey (Spain) that offer digitalisation of several features to tele-monitor lifts performance and maintenance. Most of them offer a hardware/software solution, except of Peters Research which offers just a specialist maintenance software, in which information on the lift fleet performance can be tracked and assessed. In figure 3, the ten different features that the SmartElevator service will monitor and assess are shown, also a comparison of the different products/service feautures provided by Merak´s competitors is provided. A Yes means this company´s product has that concrete feature, a No indicates that their service/product doesn’t have the concerned feature and n/a means non-accessible meaning this information could not be found. The most unusual feature that Merak is offering, is the time of reaction in case of lift entrapment or breakdown. This service feature is one of Merak´s areas of expertise, having specialised in emergency communications for the past 15 years. Additionally, it also visible that Merak offers the most integrated service as none of the other competitors offer the digitalisation of all the below features.
Merak´s hardware/software solution aims at fighting restrictions placed by lift manufactures and other lift service providers, as this product doesn’t restrict its use to selective lifts but aims at establishing an interoperable service that can be implemented in any lift. To have a strong impact and acknowledgement in the vertical transportation sector and allow new and current customers to understand this new interoperable service, Merak will improve the branding of SmartElevator by designing an appealing visual identity and maximising its presence in social media and news channels.
This smart and breakthrough technology will enable the democratisation and transparency of the vertical industry sector as it aims to simplify operating systems of lift hardware and facilitate data collecting and sharing through a specialist software solution. Increasing the level of interoperability between the systems of different suppliers and service companies, Merak will differentiate itself from all competitors thus avoiding maintenance companies to cope with different performing systems but just remotely control all lift fleet independently from its manufacturer or provider.
1.2 Legal Framework study
From a regulatory perspective, SmartElevator will need to comply with existing European and national directives. The three European directives that need to be taking into consideration for the maintenance and safety requirement of lifts are: the first Lifts Directive/95/16/EC, the upcoming Lift Directive 2014/33/EU and the Machine Directive 2006/42/EC. European lift safety standards detail safety rules for various types of lift and also cover different aspects of lifts construction and operation. All safety and maintenance requirement need to be taking into account when launching a lift communication service into the market.
EU Legal Framework
European legislation for lifts has been predominantly based on the Lifts Directive/95/16/EC which establishes European legal requirements for the design, construction, installation and placing on the market of new lifts. National legislation of EU member states relating to lift safety has been replaced by the European Lift Directive. The EC and its partners, including European Elevator Association (EEA) and European Lift & Lift Component Association (EFLA) at the time, decided to add a short one page “Recommendation” 95/216/EC with the 10 following recommendations to make existing lifts safe.
1.Car doors to be fitted and a floor-level indicator to be fitted inside the car.
2.The car suspension cables to be inspected and possibly replaced.
3.The stop controls to be modified in order to achieve a high degree of precision in the stopping level of the car and a gradual deceleration.
4.Make the controls in both the cars and lift wells intelligible and usable by unaccompanied disabled persons.
5.Fit human- or animal-presence detectors to the automatic doors.
6.For lifts which travel faster than 0,6 m/s, fit a parachute system allowing them to decelerate smoothly when stopping. Modify the alarm systems to establish a permanent link with a high-speed breakdown service.
7.Eliminate any asbestos in the braking systems, where this exists.
8.Fit a device preventing uncontrolled movements towards the top of the car.
9.Provide cars with emergency lighting that operates in the event of a main power supply failure. It must operate for long enough to enable the rescue services to intervene in a normal manner. The installation must also enable the alarm system provided for in item 7 to function.
The Lifts Directive objectives are: to permit the free movement of lifts and safety components for lifts within the internal market and to ensure that these products provide a high level of protection of the health and safety of people. The Lifts Directive entered into force on 1st July 1999. It has been recently amended by the revised Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC, which is applicable since 29 December 2009. The main aim for the revision was to clarify the borderline between the scopes of both Directives.
The directive offers lift manufacturers greater design freedom. It’s now possible to choose alternatives to the possibilities offered by the harmonized European standards. But any alternatives chosen must meet the fundamental health and safety requirements laid down by the directive. Conformity with these requirements must be demonstrated by a risk assessment.
In case of lifts manufacturer and safety components providers, they must establish that products meet the requirements stipulated by the directive. They can do this by using one of several conformity procedures. Depending on the procedure chosen, they and/or a designated certification organization (Notified Body) can take the required actions. If they choose to perform these actions yourself, they must work with a quality assurance system which has been certified by a Notified Body. This system must incorporate the requirements laid down by the directive. They can choose the conformity procedure which best suits their needs.
The Machinery Directive EU
On 29 December 2009, the new Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC came into force. This directive replaces the old Machinery Directive 98/37/EC. There is no transition period. The directive can also be important for lift manufacturers. The Lift Directive is distinct from the Machinery Directive and lifts must meet both directives.
What does this new directive mean in broad terms for lifts and related equipment? The new Machinery Directive was introduced because the old one was no longer in line with the so-called ‘new approach’ applied to all directives. In addition, a number of products needed to be added to the directive’s application areas in order to clarify certain matters.
It was also clear that the wording of the old directive needed to be improved and that in some cases, like lifts, the distinction between directives should be clarified. The ultimate goal of the revised directive is to maintain Europe’s competitive position in the global market. A noticeable change is a limit to the validity period of a product certificate which is now five years.
One of the harmonized standards covered by the Machinery Directive is EN115-1:2008 Safety of Escalators and Moving Walks - Part 1: Construction and Installation. This standard explains the construction and installation of escalators and moving walks. It addresses significant hazards, safety requirements, protective measures, test reports and information related to safety. The standard’s appendices include illustrations and tables that further explain various concepts.
The new Lifts Directive coming to force in 2016
On 29 March 2014 the new Lifts Directive 2014/33/EU was published. This directive comes into force in every European member state on 20th April 2016.
The changes are mainly legal and the aim is to bring the directive more in line with the so-called ‘new legislative framework’, which establishes the general terms and conditions regarding accreditation, more stringent market surveillance and conformity procedures. The new directive also includes amendments to the current directive. The new directive does not affect previously issued EC type certificates. These remain valid as long as the certified products and the accompanying technology remain unchanged.
What changes with the new Lift Directive?
•The provision against unintended car movement, in directive jargon the UCMP, is not currently a safety component, but it is in the new directive. An EU type certificate will soon be needed for this, along with an EU conformity statement and a CE mark.
•EC changes to EU. In the new directive, the same designation applies to all European countries.
•With a unit verification, the certificate of conformity will soon become a conformity certificate.
•The CE declaration, issued when a lift goes into service, will soon be called an ‘EU declaration of conformity’.
•More identification information for product marking will have to be added to the lift and safety components.
•The only technical change is that with a unit verification a load test is mandatory throughout Europe
European Lift safety standards
Moreover, there are European standards supporting EU legislation which address other issues of interest to the lift service providers. In 2003, the European Committee of Standardization (CEN) added to its well-known European Standard for new lifts, EN 81-80: 2003 (SNEL, the safety norm for existing lifts) as part of the process of European legal harmonization. EN 81-80:2003, Safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts – Existing lifts – Part 80: Rules for the improvement of safety of existing passenger and goods passenger lifts, categorizes various hazards and hazardous situations, each of which has been analysed by a risk assessment.
It then provides a list of corrective actions to improve safety progressively. The lift should be audited against a checklist of more than 70 items (74 in Western Europe but several more in Central & Eastern European member states). The identification of the hazardous situation can be carried out in the course of any periodical survey or special examination on a given installation, but only technically competent and sufficiently trained persons should be allowed to carry out these examinations. However, this can be subjected to national regulations.
Once the weak points of the installation have been identified through this pro-active assessment or safety audit, improvements can be made (if necessary) by a stepwise upgrading which can naturally be combined with any modernization being carried out. In addition, preventive maintenance and repairs are a necessary ongoing process.
Members of the European Committee for Standardization are bound to give all European Standard the status of national standard without any alteration. Thus, SmartElevator aims to simplify the identification of the hazards named in the EN 81-80:2003 providing a smart interoperable lift emergency communications suite and contribute to the harmonization and surveillance of the lift market in Europe.
Additionally, the European Lift Association (ELA) considers that the SNEL is a powerful tool that will soon show its impact in Europe and will help as a benchmark for other countries. Even though, the application of EN 81-80 will vary by country, including the 74 identified risks, in the content and programming, about 75% of existing lifts wi
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In order to provide the proposed hardware/software service, Merak should adapt its current software and hardware as it was previously described. In order to do that, the company has developed a work plan and costs estimated required to complete SmartElevator to be ready for the market, including the validation by final users and maintenance companies. This workplan and Phase I feasibility study will be part of the SMEI phase II submission next June 2015.
WP1. Sensing devices
To develop a series of sensing devices to provide compulsory with the new European regulation EN 81-80. The main concept is to modify the minimum possible the current Merak cabin electronic module to adapt the new sensors to it. The current module has RS485 connectivity for a maximum of 20 new sensors.
WP2. Electonics development
Objectives: provide a high speed communication connection between the control panel and the cabin and modify the cabin electronic system to support all the new features of the Merak phone system.
WP3. Software development
To carry out the software development of the Merak cloud platform in order to scale up the exisiting platform, integrate the new developed sensors of the project and add new software functionalities to explote the new incoming sensor data and the new communication system developed in WP1. The mobile application for Maintenance operators will be designed and developed, and will integrate all the new functionalities developed in the Cloud platform.
WP4. Integration test
Objectives: to integrate all the components created and modified for the new Merak Phone System and to pre-certify that the new Merak Phone System accomplishes with all the European Normative.
WP5. Pilot tests
Objectives: To plan proper pilot tests to validate with real end users in their environment the capabilities of the Merak devices and to test the Merak devices and to collect information to improve the usability of the devices
To develop a business innovation plan incorporating a detailed commercialization strategy (dissemination and exploitation) and a financing plan in view of market launch. To Define a Customer Development plan to validate business hypothesis and focus all activities towards growth.
WP7. Communication Activities
To disseminate both the project itself and its results in the most relevant forums. This involves both disseminating the project in the society, and scientifically, both in technical and clinical audiences (through referenced and dissemination papers, conference communications, and specific targeted web events, whenever possible).
Review and assess the work being carried out by optimizing resources within the project, monitor subcontracted tasks, involve all company departments in the innovation process, facilitate the take-up of results by incorporating them in the BIP and in the CP, implement coaching and mentoring advice, manage IP knowledge and ensure that all aspects of the EC requirements for communication and reporting are met.
More information can be found in the feasibility study deliverable 1.
The total duration of the Phase II project will be 24 months, and the required investment to completely validate SmartElevator service and prove the business model proposed would be around 1.500.000 euros.