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Elevated Building Energy Management Through People Flow Intelligence

Company: KONE Corporation

Elevated Building Energy Management Through People Flow Intelligence

Untapped Potential of Vertical Transportation


Elevators, escalators, and moving walkways are a crucial form of indoor vertical transportation, enabling tall building construction and smooth flow of people. In urban environments, a person typically encounters and interacts with multiple vertical transportation devices each day. Through KONE technology, it is possible to harness these vast information sources. This is done by combining these interactions and domain knowledge of people flow solutions into machine readable, refined data. Furthermore, bi-directional communication with the smart building energy management systems further enables possibilities in developing new value-adding features to vertical transportation, while also potentially enhancing building operations and energy efficiency.

Main Objective – Reducing Peak Power Demand

Our innovative solution focuses on elevators and other such vertical transportation methods, which intermittently cause   large bi-directional power flows (consumption/generation) when in operation. The developed solution merges the current and historical operation state of the elevator (or elevator group) and the power demand model of the specific elevator design, to provide a real-time forecast of short-term power demand. The forecast then enables smart building energy management systems to make more exact, in-time decisions on power balancing actions. Such actions include charging/discharging a battery bank or ramping up/down other building equipment, such as ventilation, lighting, cooling, and heating.


How It Works

Example of live power demand forecast (0…30 s) of an actual non-regenerative elevator and its historical power demand forecast (-30…0s)

Typically, elevators, escalators and moving walkways are ordered and installed just to serve a specific need – to transport people efficiently between floors or areas of the building. 

Commonly, information on the operational characteristics of these have been scarce and typically unutilised beyond simple reports by the building owners or operators. With built-in connectivity and increased computational power, KONE devices can provide this valuable information, inducing savings in planning, investment, and maintenance costs of additional auxiliary sensors which would monitor the same quantities. 

The connectivity also enables KONE devices to take in external inputs and to react to those inputs. However, while participating in demand response by altering the power demand and energy usage of elevators and escalators, for example, by means of speed reduction, would also be technically feasible.

Who Can Benefit from This Innovation?

    Building operators

The increased details of vertical transportation usage and flows of people can help to manage and maintain, not just the vertical transportation devices in question, but also other building operations and equipment. Providing the detailed, novel information sources for ‘Virtual Twins’, ‘Virtual Power Plants’ or other such smart building automation systems can help to increase the performance of those systems. From the point of view of peak power management, forecasting the highly intermittent power profile of elevators can help to mitigate the occurring costs related to peak demand pricing of electricity. Additionally, accurate forecasting of power demand helps in securing power balance under special conditions, such as during back-up power supply usage, or mitigate power quality issues in weak or unreliable electricity networks. 

    Buidling occupants and visitors

The more detailed information on occupancy in different areas of the building and the real-time view of people flows within the building can benefit the users of the building by providing better thermal comfort, air quality, or illumination levels. Furthermore, elevators, escalators and automatic doors could prepare beforehand for upcoming traffic peaks, allowing smoother movement compared to traditional buildings

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