Home: Issue 4 2008 › Raising the bar

Raising the bar

Raising the bar

16/06/2008 | Channel: Engineering, Manufacturing

Being a family-owned company brings multiple benefits to Kone

KONE facilitates safe and easy access for hundreds of millions of people every day all over the world by being one of the world's leading elevator and escalator companies. KONE also provide installation and maintenance services for automatic and industrial doors and during the past 98 years KONE has proven its ability to adapt and create new opportunities for growth, whilst the influence of stable management by four generations of the same family cannot be underestimated. In 2007, the company had annual net sales of 4.1 billion euros and over 32,500 employees.

“We're active in most countries around the world,” reveals UK marketing director Simon Dow. “KONE's roots are in Finland and we're still family owned, which permeates the culture of the company. Many of our employees have been with us for a long time and the strength of continuity that comes from being family run shows in the business and its strategy.”

Present in over 50 countries, KONE boasts specialised expertise in several areas and has an unsurpassed commitment to innovation. Simon says: “We have been present in the UK since 1979.We're specialists in elevators, escalators and doors - anything that facilitates the flow of people and goods through buildings - and we've led the way in new equipment in the UK through some of our innovations over the last decade.”

Elaborating on these advances, Simon adds: “We invented a product called MonoSpace in 1996, which revolutionised the industry as it was the first ever machineroom-less elevator. Progressing from lifts that required a large space to store the equipment, we were able to supply equipment that didn't need a machine
room. This allowed more flexibility for buildings in the freedom of design for architects, cost savings and an increase in rentable space.MonoSpace using the KONE EcoDisc also led the way for green technology as it halved the energy consumption of traditional hydraulic lifts, required no oil and was made from recyclable materials. In short its an innovation that changed the entire lift industry forever and positioned KONE as a leading brand, paving the way for our UK and global growth. Globally we turn over 4.1 billion euros and employ over 30,000 people.”

KONE's development in the UK has been characterised by strategic acquisitions that add quality to the company's mix of services, as Simon explains: “We've grown
organically and through acquisitions and look for companies that complement what we do, or bring new services and client bases to KONE. Our doors acquisition added a new arm - we were very much an elevator and escalator company but the doors division allowed us to look at the complete picture of people and goods flow and how people access buildings. Other acquisitions have complemented the KONE products and services with new ideas and innovations.”

As a trusted expert in its field, KONE has contributed to the high profile Terminal 5 developments at Heathrow and successfully met the challenges that project presented. Installation manager Mel Lewis outlines KONE's input and difficulties faced: “The Terminal 5 project involved the manufacture, supply, delivery, installation and commissioning of 103 escalators. It had been planned for 25 years and KONE took the work on as part of a framework agreement around a decade ago.We started on site at Terminal 5 five years ago and got involved not only with the supply of the lifts and escalators, but with the way the building was designed working closely with architects and other suppliers. T5 was a co-working style of project where all the trades worked together. The most challenging aspect related to logistics because T5 was built in the two busiest runways in the world. On one side we had the runways and Terminals 1, 2 and 3, and on the other we had the M25 so the delivery logistics were complicated. Through discussions, we developed a plan called Demand Fulfilment, which involved delivering equipment to the site just before we needed it.”

KONE plans to get involved with further projects that BAA has in the pipeline, as Adam Lawrie, project operation director, details: “There are further developments afoot at the airport to redevelop the central terminal area of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 into a new terminal called Heathrow East. It's a very similar project to Terminal 5 and will bring the whole airport up to standard. There's going to be an addition to T5 - another satellite building built by 2011 - and future projects will pan out along the same lines as T5, meaning working with dedicated project management to develop relationships with customers and deliver the best products and services.”

The company engages local builders, developers, building owners, facility managers and architects wherever possible and uses KONE products manufactured
internally when appropriate and also relies on a joined up supply chain. “Our procurement team is very professional and works with our supplier base, with whom we have strong relationships,” says Simon. “That team is closely monitored on what it's able to deliver and the quality it ensures. Our suppliers are also constantly
monitored, checked and audited on price and performance levels to make sure we're using the best in the market. As we're a big company, we have some purchasing power but we prefer suppliers that give a high quality of service rather than just the lowest price.With a few exceptions, most of our kit comes from KONE factories from facilities throughout the world.”

In thinking about the current condition of the marketplace, Simon notes that it continues to be strong despite the economic problems some countries are experiencing. “The UK construction market has been buoyant for a number of years,” he says. “There is likely to be some impact from the credit crunch but we're not seeing any evidence of it in our global order book, although we'll monitor the market carefully over the coming months. Clearly the Olympics is a driver to growth in the UK - with 2012 coming up there's a lot of construction work happening in the capital and around the country where Olympic villages are being built.

“With regards to our participation, we have good relationships with a many main contractors, builders and developers so are well positioned.”

When asked about KONE's success, Simon feels it comes down to a mix of understanding customers, providing a good service and maintaining an effective workforce.

“Our key strengths are born from what we call 'must win battles' so we aim to be a highly customer focused company,” reveals Simon. “We concentrate on operational excellence, delivering high service levels and working in an efficient manner.We invest in recruitment and development - we have a knack for bringing in new people to the business and giving them the best training possible under good leadership.”

Summarising KONE's key aims, Simon concludes: “Our goals and objectives are tomaintain our success and become the preferred choice for all customers when it comes to people flow solutions, both in terms of service and new products.”

Employees 32,500
Industry Escalator and lift manufacturing