• Otis vertical transportation leads the world higher

    12 October 2023

    Skylines of cities around the world are constantly evolving, reaching ever higher. In addition to excellent architectural design, the ability to grow also depends on the application of state – of – the – art electromechanical technology to develop living and working spaces to meet the needs of the 21st Century. 


    This is why the invention of the elevator is so fundamentally important. It can even be said that if there is no elevator, there will be no skyscrapers!

    PRC Magazine was honoured to meet Otis Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan’s newly appointed Executive Director and Managing Director, Mr. Michael Lee. He has been responsible for new installation, service business departments and many world-renowned projects. Lee has worked at Otis China for the past 13 years and joined Otis over 29 years ago.

    East Rail Line Cross-harbour Extension Platform escalator in MTR’s Admiralty station

    Growing with Hong Kong

    Otis Elevator Company, established in the United States 170 years ago, is the world’s leading provider of elevator and escalator manufacturing, installation and maintenance services, and is committed to developing safe and reliable vertical transportation systems. The company currently has offices in more than 200 countries and regions, and this year marks its 135th anniversary in Hong Kong. 

    Otis’s first project in Hong Kong was to install their hydraulic elevator for a 6-storey Hong Kong hotel in 1888. Since then the company has grown in step with Hong Kong. The company has contributed to a multitude of projects, including such icons as Two IFC, Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, Xiqu Centre, as well as providing elevator services in many local private and public housing projects, bringing Hong Kong’s population excellent elevator experiences for more than a century.

    Lee said proudly: “In Hong Kong, there are many advanced buildings that use Otis products. As long as the design meets Otis’ Three Absolutes: Safety, Ethics and Quality, we will try our best to meet the client’s requirements.”

    Revolutionary Innovation

    The earliest elevators were all hydraulically driven and manually operated. In the early 20th century, Otis introduced electric elevators to Hong Kong. In the 1950s, the first escalator was installed in Hong Kong, since then the company has been continually innovating to provide the best elevator solutions. In the 1980s, an era when the world was developing at breakneck speed, Hong Kong also developed rapidly into the world-renowned financial centre we know today. Buildings were growing taller and taller and Otis kept pace with the times and continued to develop and innovate. This led to a gearless design and then high-speed elevators and double-deck elevators, making it possible to build super high-rise towers, transforming the city’s real estate forever. And passenger capacity has continued to increase.

    From the turn of this century the world began to pay greater attention to environmental protection, and Otis, launched a series of environmental protection solutions. 

    Lee says, “Traditional elevators need to be pulled by steel rope. To operate smoothly, the steel rope must be lubricated regularly. Therefore, Otis developed the Gen2TM elevator, where the steel rope were changed into a flat coated steel belt, eliminated the use of lubricating oil. Plus, the volume of the belt is thinner and combined with the ReGen® driver, reduces energy consumption by as much as 75%. 

    “Two years ago, we launched Gen3TM, more advanced with smarter connections which increases how the company can imagine greater possibilities to meet the needs of customers and passengers in the digital generation.”

    Moving Forward

    This year, to celebrate the 135th anniversary since the first project by Otis in Hong Kong, the company launched the campaign named: Leading the Way: Past, Present and Future.

    Lee explained: “Past looks back on the success of Otis, growing together with society; Present focuses on how we have launched so many products and services, and have to study how to develop and integrate these with the community; Future is how we look forward to meeting new challenges, in line with the direction of the world’s development, leading to a new generation of intelligence.”

    “In addition to the innovation of elevator technology, we have also put a lot of effort into how to optimise the installation of elevators. In recent years, the Hong Kong government has vigorously promoted Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), so we started working with contractors to study how to integrate elevators into the construction to contribute to building faster and more smoothly over the last few years.” 

    Passenger experience is an area that Otis attaches great importance to. How to seamlessly connect passengers and the environment, make the vertical transportation system more intelligent and personalised, and integrating with the overall urban environment has always been one of the company’s primary goals.

    “Otis ONE™ is an intelligent IoT solution that connects the elevator to the cloud. With real-time data analysis and remote monitoring, it can detect potential problems in advance and make adjustments or schedule repairs when appropriate. It helps to optimise the management and greatly increases the performance of the elevator. At the same time, it also ensures the safety of the maintenance staff, and the passengers will also feel at ease because of the high-performance management system,” says Lee.

    Rising to the challenge 

    The project of the East Rail Line Cross-harbour Extension, completed and put into use in 2022, won recognition for Otis in the World Elevator Magazine Awards. This project was very challenging. Passengers currently see rows of 25-meter-long escalators on the Admiralty Interchange platform. To install these without affecting passengers using the station was a very difficult task. Admiralty is one of the busiest stations of the Hong Kong’s MTR, used by over one million people every day. During the construction process, in-depth research and perimeter planning was necessary. At the same time, professional engineers from other regions also participated so that the project was completed smoothly and on time.

    Otis Hong Kong launches “Leading Forward 135 Years” anniversary celebration campaign.

    Driving force with ESG

    Michael Lee believes that innovation and environmental protection is a prerequisite of the elevator business. In fact, when these issues are brought together, they can lead the company to go further, faster, and be more competitive.

    Lee explains: “How to use innovation to maintain the company’s competitiveness and how to use technology to promote environmentally friendly practices are the two most important directions for us in the future. We will elevate environmental protection, society, and corporate governance (ESG) to a strategic level to reduce carbon emissions and the impact on the climate, as one of the defining challenges of our time.”

    The principles behind ESG have been woven into Otis’ business culture for decades, as the company is committed to the health and safety of their colleagues and passengers, whilst striving to reduce the environmental impact of their products, operations, and services. To foster a culture that embraces all voices and diverse perspectives, Otis is actively engaged in serving the community, upholding the highest standards of rigorous governance, ethics and integrity. 

    Lee said: “I have worked at Otis for so many years. I like the company culture the most. What I am most proud of is the company’s system of treating all employees equally, which allows all the employees to have the opportunity to utilise their talents. Currently half of the management at Otis Hong Kong are women. The company does not tolerate any discriminatory attitudes and hopes that everyone can work and develop their talents in a fair environment. “For the future, we must keep pace with the times and lead the team to progress together with society. Past success does not mean that we will be successful in the future. What is more important is how we improve and challenge ourselves to integrate with the needs of future generations. I don’t know what the future will be like, but we need to keep exploring and improving, and in the process learn how to use new technologies to make us more capable whilst continuing to grow.”


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