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  • Hilde Huus

Kone Elevator Company Talk by Laura Kehusmaa

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

Laura Kehusmaa is a Branch Co-ordinator of Kone, and her talk was called “Kone - a leading company in people flow.” In her talk on February 19, she covered a lot of material about the company, impressing us with the history of the company, its global reach, the intricacies of developing their devices (elevators, escalators, autowalks, and others) to move people around safely, conveniently, and reliably, and the company’s constant innovations.

Kone, which is Finnish for “machine,” was founded in Finland in 1910 as a general mechanics company and has grown to become one of the top four elevator companies in the world. It built its first escalator for Helsinki’s Stockmann Department Store in 1928, which was such an innovation at the time that the company adopted a logo that represents a graphic of an escalator. Finland’s parliament building has an elevator in the “pater noster” design (see example below), installed by Kone in 1931. It features a series of doorless elevator cars that move constantly in the same direction so people “hop in and hop out” as a car comes along. The design is called “pater noster” due to its movement resembling the use of prayer beads.

Kone now has operations in more than 60 countries worldwide and its equipment moves over 1 billion people every day. A large portion of its recent installations have been in China, while the maintenance side of the business remains greater in Europe, where existing installations are ageing.

Megatrends affecting the industry include the rapid urbanization of populations (200,000 people move to a city daily), disruptions due to new technologies, the shortening of building life cycles, and the increasing trend to convert buildings from one purpose to another.

When planning an installation, Kone thoroughly researches where people are going, how they are getting there, and what they do when they arrive. Kone need to know these paths to improve flow, avoid bottlenecks and make things easier and safer. Safety is paramount and this also applies for their elevator mechanics, whose job can be very dangerous.

Recent innovations in their business include their partnership with IBM on artificial intelligence. Another is the disappearance of the separate machine room, whose functions have been replaced by an attachment to the elevator car itself. With the advent of the construction of buildings in phases, floor by floor as units are sold, has come the invention of “jump-lift” elevators, which can be extended as needed. “Double decker” elevators, in which two cars are placed on top of each other, are another recent innovation.

Laura also gave us an overview of the elevator business in Canada, which faces the challenges of dealing with long distances and severe weather conditions. New challenges include the need for flexible solutions in the increasing amount of housing for seniors.

A surprising number (to me anyway) of questions people had for Laura focused on elevator entrapment. Laura advised relying on the elevator telephone to get help and using it to get as much information as you need to avoid panicking.

Laura Kehusmaa came to us highly recommended as an excellent speaker by CNS member Tuula Bigras. Those of us who attended her talk are in complete agreement with Tuula. Laura is extremely knowledgeable on this subject and delivered a very enjoyable presentation. In the photo above, she holds the “coveted” CNS mug presented by CNS Secretary Astrid Ahlgren.

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