Vodafone to connect 1 million elevators

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Vodafone Germany and multinational conglomerate Thyssenkrupp together aim to equip in excess of 1 million elevators worldwide with SIM cards in order to carry out predictive maintenance and reduce downtime.

The announcement, which came from the mobile operator on Monday, builds on an existing partnership between Vodafone and Thyssenkrupp, whose business spans steel making, engineering and machinery, including elevator systems. Thyssenkrupp selected Vodafone as its connectivity partner for the Internet of Things (IoT) just over two years ago, contracting the telco to provide its global M2M platform and SIM cards for existing and new elevators across Europe, Asia, and North and South America, equating to several hundred thousand connections.

This week Vodafone Germany revealed that 120,000 elevators in Germany, Korea, Spain and the US are connected via Thyssenkrupp's MAX box, equipped with Vodafone SIMs, creating a predictive and pre-emptive maintenance service for elevators.

"The SIM card is the modern tool for the service technicians of today's lifts," said Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany, in a statement.

"Population growth and urbanization put the infrastructure in high-rise buildings under greater load than ever before," added Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Elevator.

"Smart data usage is the solution, enabling us to accurately identify, analyse and solve the actual transportation needs and technical challenges within buildings," he said. "We create future-proof solutions that benefit our customers, facility managers and elevator users alike."

According to the companies, there are around 12 million elevators in use worldwide, carrying 1 billion people per day. Failures and long waiting times for repair bring significant cost to elevator operators; in Germany, for example, each elevator needs attention four times per year, they said. The MAX box collects data and transmits it to a central platform for analysis, so patterns that often precede failure can be observed, and a subsequent failure avoided.