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New IoT data from Uptime shows citizens spend 11.6 million hours a year stuck in elevators

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YouGov survey finds consistently working elevators rated more important than air ventilation and regular cleaning in buildings as cities begin post-pandemic recovery

LONDON – 19 May, 2021 – New data from smart elevator technology start-up Uptime has shown that elevators break down on average at least four times a year, with each breakdown taking an average of four hours to be fixed. With more than 17 million lifts in operation globally, that’s nearly 272 million hours of downtime each year.

Uptime’s database of more than 1.8 billion data points generated every year from 1,000 elevators, which monitors 200 touchpoints from each single elevator, shows that one out of six elevator breakdowns occur with people trapped inside, with successful rescue after about an hour on average. In total, this means people across the globe spend 11.6 million hours stuck in elevators every year, equating to 1,320 years, before being rescued.

This breakdown cycle can quickly become a stumbling block for buildings post-pandemic. A YouGov survey of 2,032 British adults on behalf of Uptime showed that consistently working elevators are more important than air ventilation, security and cleaning when considering a new property – 30% of respondents stated that elevators breaking down frequently is most likely to stop them buying or renting in a building if they were to live on the sixth floor, compared with poor security (20%), poor air ventilation (14%), or a lack of regular cleaning in communal spaces (12%). A vast majority (87%) of all adults surveyed said it would be important to have a consistently working elevator when living on the sixth floor of a building, with a majority (60%) saying it is very important – a need that will only grow as occupants strive for a safe return to normality.

“The downtime and unreliability of elevators poses a huge cost for building managers and occupants, – both financially and in real life terms – which simply cannot continue,” said Augustin Celier, co-founder and CEO of Uptime. “Cities are already grappling with the unparalleled challenges of returning its populations to living and working in safe environments. Frequent and long elevator breakdowns could put tenants and workers in danger, damage the reputation of building managers, and even play a significant role in workers choosing not to return to the office.”

Despite spending on elevator maintenance adding up to €34 billion per year, they still break down four times on average.

“The current elevator maintenance model – which provides for 75% of industry profits – is woefully outdated. Buildings and occupants are still paying for the number of maintenance visits and elevator breakdown response, rather than any guarantees that an elevator works. With both COVID-19 and regulatory changes predicted to significantly reduce elevator maintenance visits, building occupants must realise that the number of maintenance visits is not associated with elevator safety conditions,” explains Celier.

Uptime’s IoT database shows there is no correlation between a higher frequency of maintenance checks and a lower rate of breakdowns – in fact, countries with the highest number of mandatory maintenance visits by law also experience the highest number of breakdowns. France and Spain require nine and twelve annual mandatory visits by law respectively yet experience on average five breakdowns per year, compared with the Nordics and Germany, which only require one to six maintenance visits per year, yet only experience two to three elevator breakdowns per year. However, technology exists to enable performance and traffic based contracts instead.

According to research from Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley, the four biggest elevator manufacturers – Otis, Kone, Schindler, ThyssenKrupp Elevators – are beginning to lose elevator maintenance market share, dropping from 43% in 2012 to 37% in 2020 of the installed elevator base, with independent service providers rapidly gaining contracts.

“We do see a meaningful risk of technology-driven new entrants attacking and directly taking share from large OEMs’ existing maintenance base over the next 3-5 years. The primary risk in our view is the new entrants making IIoT technology widely available to ISPs [Independent Service Providers] and hence levelling off the competitive advantage built up through own heavy investment,” says Andre Kukhnin in the last Credit Suisse Global Elevators & Escalators research.

The elevator industry is switching from the manufacturer-led maintenance model to an independent service model, where predictive technology is used to purchase the result of fewer breakdowns and more uptime, rather than purchasing the number of maintenance visits. For example, elevators using Uptime’s technology experience less than two breakdowns per year, compared to the global average of four breakdowns per year.

“Today, data extraction is critical for our business – and being able to draw intelligence from that data gives us a new, extremely valuable perspective on our overall operation,” said Dr. Nasos Bikas, former OTIS Africa MD and current CEO of Valsamidis SA, a pioneer in the vertical transport sector and Uptime customer. “I’ve known Uptime’s founder for a long time, and as soon as the solution was available, we started working together. With Uptime in place, we are now able to collect crucial real-time information to ensure the smooth operation of our elevators, something that is truly groundbreaking and gives us a significant edge over the competition.”

“With COVID-19 putting safety and efficiency front of mind, using real-time elevator data in the right way means users no longer have to live in fear of breakdowns or long waiting times, while building managers can regain control of their elevators’ performance and costs. Meanwhile, elevator manufacturers can focus on what they do best – manufacture the most reliable equipment possible – while service providers can focus on providing the highest quality of service and results,” concludes Celier.


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