Kone expects a lift from new field services applications


The Finnish manufacturer plans to put IoT data from elevators, escalators, doors and turnstiles into the hands of service technicians in the field, so that they can respond to maintenance issues more proactively.

koneWhen the new passenger terminal at Bahrain International Airport (BIA) opens in late 2018, its operators promise it will be one of the most modern and futuristic airport buildings in the world, giving BIA the capacity to handle 14 million passengers annually, up from the current nine million.

Much of the work of keeping passengers moving smoothly through the airport will be shouldered by equipment manufactured by KONE Corporation. This week, the Finnish company announced it had won an order to supply BIA with 85 elevators, 40 escalators and 20 moving walkways for the new terminal building.

If, in future, that equipment requires preventive maintenance or experiences a fault, then BIA looks set to benefit, along with other KONE customers, from a recent investment by the company in field service applications from Salesforce.

KONE has used CRM apps from Salesforce for over a decade and, in November 2016, announced that it is expanding its relationship with the cloud software provider to add Salesforce Service Cloud Lightning and Field Service Lightning to the mix.

With these new additions, KONE will be able to give its entire service workforce a single view of the customer and its equipment, according to company CIO Antti Koskelin. When I caught up with him, he had just come from a steering group meeting in which the first phase of this roll-out had been the main talking point. The plan for 2017 is to pilot Service Cloud Lightning and Field Service Lightning in a few countries (the company operates in over 50 worldwide), before embarking on a global rollout in 2018.

It’s a big job, but an important one: KONE employs more than 20,000 field service technicians, along with customer service agents and dispatchers working in customer care centres. With more than one million individual pieces of equipment in operation today, moving around an estimated one billion people daily, it’s vital that KONE responds to service requests quickly and efficiently. Plus, there’s a great deal of money involved here. Around 45% of the company’s annual revenues, which totalled €8.6bn in 2015, come from its services business, Koskelin explains.

Data from that equipment will do much to help. The new installations planned for BIA will be equipped with E-Link, Kone’s own monitoring technology, for example, but much older equipment also has the capability to communicate information on its status and usage on some level. What’s changed, says Koskelin, is that the falling price of sensors, widespread connectivity and the availability of computing capacity to store and analyse that data is leading to an Internet of Things (IoT) approach that makes it possible to keep a far closer eye on escalators and elevators, says Koskelin. In his view, that opens the doors to a more proactive, predictive service culture:

If we’re able to get a better view of what kinds of requests customers will make, what their service needs are going to be and what types of issues they might face with their equipment, then we’re able to react better. And if a service technician arrives at a customer site with more information about the customer, its equipment and its contract with us, then they’ll do a better job.

But it goes further than that. We need to be very good at providing the services that customers say they need, certainly, but our goal is to provide the services that they haven’t recognized themselves yet and point it out to them.

In addition to Salesforce, KONE is also working with IBM. In February 2016, the company announced it will use the IBM Watson IoT Cloud Platform to connect and monitor its elevators, escalators, doors and turnstiles in buildings worldwide. Service data coming from KONE’s connected equipment will also be routed through Salesforce Service Cloud Lightning, to put much of that data into the hands of service technicians working in the field.

Over time, Koskelin predicts, this set-up will make it possible to fine-tune KONE’s service performance to an impressive degree. He gives this example: if elevators break down simultaneously in a student hall of residence, an old people’s home and a hospital, the system will understand that the hospital – where patients are waiting to be transported to surgery – must be the first priority. It will also be able to identify the closest and most capable technician to perform the needed repair and even tell if there’s a technician already on-site at the hospital, working on another job:

This is what we mean by a customer-centric approach. If we have all the information in the digital form to send the right technicians to the right location, based on urgency, then we can make customers even happier.

Image credit - Kone

Disclosure - At time of writing, Salesforce is a premier partner of diginomica.