A highly moving experience

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 April, 2008, 12:00am

Jardine Schindler Group (JSG) is responsible for transporting more than 100 million people throughout Southeast Asia with its lifts, escalators and moving walkways every day.

Now, the Hong Kong-based company sees greater demand for vertical transportation driven by robust economic growth.

Silvio Napoli, president for Asia-Pacific at Schindler Management (Shanghai), said the growth of urbanisation in Asia's big cities had resulted in ongoing demand for mobility solutions which aimed to move people in a faster and smoother way.

With the mainland emerging as a new economic powerhouse, developers and investors are spending lots of money building high-rises serviced by the most advanced lifts and escalators.

Mr Napoli said demand for mobility solutions was not limited to prime mainland cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and that the company was getting many inquiries from second- and third-tier cities.

In Hong Kong, JSG has been tasked with finding a vertical mobility solution for the International Commerce Centre (ICC) which will be the tallest building in the city, at 490 metres tall with 118 storeys, when completed in 2010.

This massive project will involve 83 lifts and 37 escalators that will move up to 30,000 people every day. The building also boasts 40 top-range Schindler 7000 double-deck lifts and 26 high-speed ones.

The Schindler 7000 lifts, which will serve two floors at any one time, will run on the Miconic 10 traffic management system. The system tells passengers which car they can take to reach the desired floor in the shortest time.

'The beauty of this double-deck lift is that it is capable of carrying twice the number of passengers, up and down, and also that it greatly reduces shaft and machine room requirements, thereby providing more rentable space,' Mr Napoli said.

'In Asia today, more people are conscious of environmental values, and our planning takes this into account.'

With an estimated 18,000 people permanently working in the ICC, its lifts will virtually become a public transport system, and therefore the first requirement is reliability.

'We aim to disperse crowds at rush hour within minutes in the safest and most efficient way,' said Mr Napoli, who added that maintenance of lifts would be a challenge.

'It's comparable to an aircraft which needs to be regularly inspected and maintained by certified technicians. Top developers look at reliability, premium technology, the ability of suppliers to fulfil and manage projects in time, and service capability.'

The interior of lifts is as important as the basic function, especially when they become an integral part of a modern building.

'If you look at the One Island East project in Quarry Bay, you won't see any lifts physically in the lift lobby as they have become virtually part of the wall,' Mr Napoli said.

The lift industry is a people-oriented business and JSG views its 3,000 staff as an invaluable asset.

'Recruitment of technicians and engineers remains a problem as the work gets more demanding. It also entails the challenge of installing new technology and its subsequent maintenance,' said Mr Napoli, whose company has maintained a low staff turnover of less than three per cent.

JSG lures young talent by providing continuous training and a structured career path. Other than campus recruitment, the company runs a six-year on-the-job management training programme for executive trainees.

'We look for quality talent who are not afraid of a challenge, hardworking and must also be able to operate in a cross-functional environment as our team-oriented operation embraces design, salesmanship and service management.'

Mr Napoli stressed the importance of qualified maintenance by certified technicians. 'We transport people, like an aircraft, which also entails risk.'

To ensure its products meet the highest safety standards, all technicians at JSG must pass the company's technician certification course to develop their technical, safety and behavioural competencies required for their jobs. 'Engineers and managers are also assessed for job readiness, and undergo technical and functional training locally and at our training centres in Switzerland, Austria and China,' Mr Napoli said.