Connecting the Schindler Dots

Connecting the Schindler Dots

Michael Nilles joined the IOTA Foundation as an advisor back in May. Michael is the CDO and Member of the Board of Directors of Schindler Group, and has proven to be extremely adept at driving innovation with his thought leadership within large-scale industrial businesses. Although Schindler Group is not an official IOTA partner, this article will attempt to connect the dots of information that’s available, and make the case for Schindler to be a major player in IOTA’s future.

Schindler Fact Box:

  • Among the top-3 elevator manufacturing companies worldwide
  • Revenue: $9.72bn (in 2017)
  • Employees: 61,000 (in 2017)
  • Headquarters: Ebikon, Switzerland
  • More than 1,000 field offices in 100+ countries

 

Schindler Group is one of the largest elevator manufacturers in the world:

But why would an elevator manufacturer be interested in IOTA’s cutting-edge technology, which is primarily focused on the niche “Internet of Things“?

Schindler is a service provider, so usability and transparency are vital core competencies of the enterprise. Their interest in disruption becomes apparent from this post on Schindler’s “Vertical Mobility” blog:

The elevator industry, like the entire engineering industry, is changing. Conventional products are increasingly connected to the Internet, the software share is increasing, even in elevators. This links this industry closely with the IT industry. This new area, which results from the interface between IT and plant engineering, can result in completely new business areas. As a result, new disruptive business models can be developed.

The company’s annual report provides additional perspective (translation of the Schindler German annual report 2017, p.62):

Thanks to Digitalisation of the processes Schindler generates in all areas – from construction via sales, through to maintenance – growing amounts of data will deliver valuable “information in advance” by means of state-of-the-art Big-Data and Machine-Learning technologies. Schindler can make use of this data to design digital processes more efficiently, improve its products, and develop new innovative solutions. Even today, intelligent sensors are built into Schindler products, collecting valuable information. For example, data is collected on the dynamics of single components, energy consumption, or fluctuations in temperature. These data are transmitted to an “Edge Device” – a decentralized terminal device which recognizes abnormalities through learning algorithms, and forwards them to a service technician. Thus, […] downtimes can be reduced, the product development can be sped up, and the client satisfaction can be improved.

Schindler doesn’t stop there. Taking it one step further, they coined a new expression for the specific subgroup of the IoT in which they’re focused: IoEE  (Internet of Elevators and Escalators). They have even gone as far as deeming the IoEE a “strategic initiative”. The idea is heralded as the first digitally interconnected maintenance, emergency, and information system for elevators and escalators, and is expounded upon in the following video:

The synergy of an IOTA + Schindler alliance is tantalizing to imagine. IOTA’s ledger (the Tangle) could function as the base layer for data collection, storage, and transmission, allowing information from the field to be directly linked with technicians while bypassing potential intermediaries. One could even foresee a corporate monetization strategy involving the sale of elevator usage data to interested parties via the IOTA Data Marketplace.

It’s always important to remain skeptical, take a step back, and ask “why IOTA”? Maybe Michael Nilles himself can answer that:

The Industrial Internet of Things today is very powerful within individual industry sectors, but it lacks a decentralized and trusted machine-to-machine transaction layer to fully enable cross-industry ecosystems … IOTA … is best positioned to fill this gap.

To expand on the “cross-industry ecosystems” tidbit from Michael’s statement, it’s worth briefly exploring Schindler’s two partners in its implementation of IoT solutions. General Electric is handling the software and cloud architecture, while Huawei has co-developed the communication/data gathering hub called “Ahead Cube“. Huawei is also working on solutions to provide OTA (over-the-air) updates via 4G/LTE, one of IOTA’s use cases. The puzzle pieces start falling into place when you remember that Huawei has already shown its interest in IOTA.

In summary, the addition of Michael Nilles to the IOTA Foundation is promising for the future direction of the project. Nilles has such a strong track record for moving Schindler forward in “digital”, data, and analytics, he was recognized with both the MIT Sloan Leadership Award and the European Digital Business Innovation Award. After digging deeper into the possible crossover between Nilles’s Schindler and IOTA’s Tangle, and then realizing what other large corporate players are potentially looming behind the scenes, the future of IoEE looks very interesting indeed.

 

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Written by: Chris Mueller