Reaching New Heights: The Success of Shanghai Mitsubishi Elevator

31st May, 2021

In November 2020, a Chinese affiliate of Mitsubishi Electric marked a milestone: one million elevators and escalators shipped. This achievement highlighted the reputation for technological excellence and thorough after-sales services that the company has built over the course of 34 years.

Market-Dominating Technologies

The elevators developed by the Shanghai Mitsubishi Elevator Company (SMEC) transport 247 million people per day up and down buildings in 652 cities across China. Elevators are an essential piece of infrastructure in the world’s second-largest economy, and SMEC has leveraged its industry-leading technologies to continually expand its business in this field. In November 2020, SMEC marked a milestone: one million elevators and escalators shipped since the company’s start in 1987.

According to SMEC, the millionth product was a Smart K-II escalator, part of the K series of escalators the company has developed exclusively for the Chinese market. SMEC installed the escalator for Line 14 of the Shanghai Metro, which is currently under development. The Smart K-II is a smart escalator incorporating Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology and has been on the market since 2018. It allows for the installation of a number of intelligent features, such as monitoring and image sensing.

The Smart K-II is the culmination of SMEC’s technological development to date — a worthy product for the one million milestone.

About one in eight of all operational elevators and escalators in China are made by SMEC — a significant market presence. The company’s success here is supported by the safety, seamless performance, and high level of comfort offered by their elevators. Many of these elevators have been in operation for two or three decades; such a long product cycle gives customers significant value for their investment.

According to SMEC, the company’s mission is twofold: to become and continue to remain an elevator company respected by society; and to provide users with the joy of traveling up and down, in the process creating harmony in the spaces that users move through in their daily lives. SMEC explains that Mitsubishi Electric elevators are well-known in China for their high quality, and that customers are particularly fond of the level of comfort they provide.

However, SMEC says that customers also appreciate the company’s after-sales service. With a network of 615 maintenance points across China, the company can respond immediately to any issues. The network uses IoT technology to instantly analyze elevator data related to operating status and technical problems, allowing it to actively monitor every elevator and provide on-demand maintenance—and, in an emergency, arrange swift rescue operations and emergency repairs.

A Ubiquitous Presence

The story of SMEC’s success is in a way the story of China’s economic growth. A significant factor in the company’s business expansion was the high-rise office building boom that started in the late 2000s. Sales of elevators expanded dramatically, and increasing demand from residential buildings added further tailwinds to the company.

As the elevator market expanded and diversified, SMEC continued to meet the needs of their customers, whether it was increasing performance in relation to speed and weight limits or adding intelligent features, as they did with the Smart K-II. There is no greater testament to SMEC’s dominance in the market than the fact that their elevators can be found in China’s best-known skyscrapers, such as the 632-meter, 127-floor Shanghai Tower (where the elevators travel at a speed of 20.5 m/s, the fastest of any Mitsubishi Electric elevator) and the 420.5-meter, 88-floor Jin Mao Tower. One of the company’s latest commissions is to install elevators for the 500-meter-tall Greenland International Silk Road Center in Xi’an, an inland city that is rapidly developing economically.

As the only elevator supplier on this project, SMEC will be installing 83 elevators in the building, including 4 of the company’s flagship NexWay elevators and 5 high-speed elevators that can travel at a speed of 10 m/s. SMEC will be installing an additional 70-plus elevators in nearby residential buildings.

Responding to New Needs

Even as elevator performance continues to rapidly evolve, the COVID-19 pandemic has also increased demand for new technologies that are suited to a post-pandemic world. To reassure users, elevators are now expected to meet antibacterial, disinfectant, and non-touch needs.

SMEC has already developed some antibacterial and disinfectant features that can be found in products already out in the market. One example is buttons made with antibacterial material. Another is a feature that emits ultraviolet rays to instantly disinfect the inside of an elevator. SMEC is currently developing non-touch features that will allow users to operate an elevator via face scans, smartphone apps, QR codes, and other nonphysical interactions.

Another growing need in the Chinese elevator and escalator market is installing elevators and escalators in existing commercial buildings, summer homes, and residential buildings—essentially, business-to-consumer and business-to-business-to-consumer projects. This trend is generally being driven by changes in lifestyles, an aging population, and government recommendations for old buildings to install elevators. There is great opportunity here—but even more for companies that can provide not just elevators but also smart elevators that offer automated control and other intelligent features.

According to SMEC, the biggest trend in China in the next few years will continue to be intelligent elevators that can provide a high level of safety by processing an enormous amount of numerical and image data and which conduct preventative maintenance to simplify their upkeep. This is why the company is redoubling its efforts in this field and working to refine its technologies.

The content is true and accurate as of the time of publication.Information related to products and services included in this article may differ by country or region.

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