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From machines to smart systems: Cloud-based IoT for lift modernization and predictive maintenance

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - e-BlueBox (From machines to smart systems: Cloud-based IoT for lift modernization and predictive maintenance)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2018-11-30

As our buildings and the lifts installed in them age, risks related to structural instability of the building and lift failure increase. 45% of Europe’s buildings are 50+ years-old and 70% of Europe’s lifts are 20+ years-old. Every year, lift downtime adds up to 190 million hours worldwide, and ~1.000 lift user accidents occur in Europe. Recent examples of building collapse caused by extreme hydrogeological events, mostly earthquakes, have notably risen concern on structural safety in highly seismic countries such as Italy and Greece.
e BlueBox offers an innovative solution to this challenge based on the IoT by enabling continuous, remote monitoring of lift and structural performance and signalling anomalies. By installing sensors in the lift and lift’s shaft and automatically filtering and analysing the data they collect through advanced algorithms and cloud-based cognitive computing, we are able to anticipate and notify potential failures and suggest preventive actions.
This solution fulfils unmet market needs: for lift monitoring, there are some proprietary, partial solutions (not valid for all types of lifts and based only on data provided by the lift’s control unit), and lift maintenance is still mostly based on on-site visits; for structural monitoring, current solutions are complex, costly and installed only temporarily on the suspicion of a problem. e BlueBox provides a cost-effective, easy-to-install, all-types-of-lift compatible access to continuous, reliable monitoring to improve building safety and reduce lift maintenance costs.
IoTty has already built a functioning prototype of e BlueBox and is working to improve the product to successfully reach the market in the next years. Specific objectives of the project include:
- Develop improved version of our standard, modulable data collection equipment and configuration valid for all types of lifts.
- Refine and develop new algorithms for reliably detecting anomalies and anticipating threats.
- Improve usability in the access to our monitoring service through further development of multi-device compatible, customizable dashboard and alert notification.
Once e BlueBox enters the market, it will contribute to improve safety in buildings by mitigating the risk for building collapse and lift accidents, preserve capital stock and architectural heritage, improve efficiency and effectiveness of lifts maintenance, and generate jobs and added value in the thriving, growing lift modernisation market.
Work performed to date includes:
- developed first functioning prototype with sensors+gateway able to collect and transmit to the cloud key data on lift performance
- designed standard configuration for 3-, 6- and 9-floor buildings
- developed and tested first algorithms for detecting anomalies in lift performance
- developed preliminary version of dashboard for user interaction with our service
- collected feedback from users and potential customers
- established key technological partnerships with IBM and STMicroelectronics
- begun commercial action by attending fairs and building relationship with key stakeholders
Main results achieved include:
- verified performance of communication systems sensors – gateway – cloud for <9-floor configurations
- discovered the potential for applying the e BlueBox solution for structural monitoring and validated the market interest in this application
- identified key technological challenges we need to overcome: gateway miniaturisation and improvement of signal transmission for >9-floor building configurations
- pivoted business model from direct sales to service fee
- developed commercial and marketing strategy to enter the market
- built confidence on the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of the project thanks to Feasibility Study (FS)
Overall, this FS has enabled us to:
• Detect and prioritize areas of development needed to bring e BlueBox to the market
• Provide a solid basis for the planning our technical and commercial work ahead
• Identify risks and opportunities and plan how we can mitigate / take advantage of them
• Assess our readiness for a Ph2 project that can support us in successfully reaching the market
As an outcome of the FS we have decided to progress forward in the development of e-BlueBox towards market launch and to present a Ph2 proposal to the H2020 SME instrument that can support us in this endeavour.
e BlueBox represents an innovative solution that goes beyond the current state of the art in several ways:
- It uncovers the potential for the Internet of Things at under-explored applications: lift performance and structural stability monitoring
- It obtains highly rich datasets collected thanks to innovative configuration of sensors strategically positioned along the lift’s shaft
- Novel algorithms applied to those rich datasets provide critical, previously inaccessible insights on lift’s or building’s safety
- Analysis of big data (once e BlueBox is installed widely) will allow to improve existing knowledge on lift performance and structural behaviour, potentially enabling more powerful and reliable predictive tools
We expect to install 0.4M+ e-BlueBox units over a 10-year period, in Europe and internationally (mostly in areas highly exposed to seismic risk), achieving significant socio-economic impact that includes:
- Reduce lift maintenance average costs by half in the buildings e BlueBox is installed
- Anticipate 90% of lift failures where e-BlueBox is installed, drastically reducing lift downtime
- Avoid lift accidents by accurately detecting the wearing of lift components and signalling the need for preventive maintenance
- Extend the lifetime of lifts where e-Blue Box is installed 5+ years
- Avoid building collapse by accurately detecting structural instability and signalling the need for structural reinforcing (this is particularly relevant in highly seismic areas to improve earthquake resilience)
- Generate economic activity: expected turnover growing from 27M€ in the first year of commercialisation to 230 M€ in 10 years
- Create added value: we estimate a 39 ROI for the ~2M€ invested in Ph2
- Create jobs, both in-company positions (10 technical, 8 commercial/marketing, 2 management) and in our network of partners and suppliers, particularly those involved in equipment installation