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Filipe Nóbrega

SPAIN - Industry

Improving the flow of urban life

General Manager, KONE Ibérica


Filipe Nóbrega is the General Manager of KONE Ibérica.

"Our mission is to improve the flow of urban life."

How has the company evolved since its foundation in 1910, and what is your mission and vision?

Our mission is to improve the flow of urban life. We operate in more than 60 countries, leading the elevators, escalators, and automatic doors industry. 20 years ago, the industry revolved mainly around products; now, it is changing to provide new solutions and services in order to offer added value to our customers. This is also reflected in our new strategy phase called Sustainable success with Customers, in which we focus on helping our customers succeed in their businesses by creating value with new intelligent and sustainable solutions over the full lifecycle of their buildings and also embedding sustainability even deeper in everything we do. One example of service is KONE Residential Flow with which we can use one’s phone to open the building main door, automatically call the elevator and take the user to their home floor, without having to touch anything. Today, it is also possible to call the elevator with Amazon Alexa. Another example of our solutions is the predictive maintenance service KONE Connected 24/7, which gathers data from sensors installed in the elevators that is automatically sent to the cloud, allowing us to identify any potential issue before it causes a breakdown, by previously alerting our specialized technicians. This type of solutions are linked to our vision, which is to create the best People FlowTM experience. We are innovation leaders in our industry with more than 3,000 patents across our businesses. Together with our partners and customers, we constantly work to understand the urban environments and anticipate the needs and opportunities for users and to co-create services and solutions that provide value to the society.

How important is the Spanish market for the company?

Spain has the highest number of elevators per capita in the world. Beyond this, there are still many opportunities to improve building accessibility, safety, and energy efficiency; and these are also focus topics of the Next Generation EU funds within the urban regeneration plans. Elevators are a key element in the improvement of buildings, not only in terms of safe mobility but also sustainability. Today, the elevators we install consume 90% less energy than the ones installed in 1990s. This is a huge energy improvement and has a great impact. Safety requirements have also changed and improved.

How is your business divided?

We have divided it into three areas: installation in new buildings, which are elevators, escalators, and automatic doors; modernizations, which involve installation in existing buildings and upgrading the elevator or escalator; and maintenance. Globally, these divisions account for 54%, 14%, and 32% respectively. In 2020, we were the second largest global company in terms of sales, and this is related with our sustainable business growth, both globally and in Spain. Most of our customers belong to the private sector. We work with developers and building owners as well as construction companies. At the same time, we work closely with architects and engineers in the designing phases and the early stages of the projects. Within the public sector, we also work mainly in infrastructure.

How have you addressed the effects of the pandemic on the real estate sector?

There has been an impact on the construction of new buildings due to inherent uncertainty, which has caused projects and investment to be temporarily halted. Modernization projects have also been affected. However, we have seen a recovery since summer 2020 which is expected to continue improving in the second half of the year. Maintenance has continued to operate as usual, excluding those buildings that have shut down due to the pandemic. We have continued with all our operations across all areas, supporting our customers by providing solutions that could help them in this critical time. Although we already had some touchless solutions before the pandemic, the proximity to our customers, has helped us to quickly develop or implement solutions adapted to their new needs and requirements, such as air purifiers for elevator cars or handrail sanitizers for escalators. In fact, our contact with our customers has doubled during the pandemic. Being close to them and listening to their needs has been fundamental for us. Although there has inevitably been an impact on the business, we did not carry out any layoffs during the pandemic. Despite the strong economic recession, we have had solid results and expectations are positive for the future.

What strategy are you following to reduce emissions?

We have set up three ambitious targets: reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 50% in our operations by 2030; reduce by 40% the GHG emissions related to products’ materials, lifetime energy use and the activities across the whole supply chain; and achieve carbon neutral operations by 2030. Delving into our first commitment, in 2019, we began switching our cars over to hybrid and electric. We now have about 35 hybrid cars in Spain and aim to have 40 more this year. Furthermore, in 2019, 0% of the energy we consumed in our offices was green energy; in 2020, this soared to 48%. This year, our goal is to exceed 70%. Related with the second target of a 40% cut in the emissions in the full chain, we are developing energy-efficient solutions, further improving the material circularity and working with our partners and suppliers to align their commitments with ours. We are also increasing the use of recyclable materials in our products and packaging.

What are the features of KONE DX Class Elevators?

KONE DX are the first elevators with fully in-built connectivity that has revolutionized the market since they launched globally in 2020. All the solutions mentioned so far can be immediately installed in these elevators because they are connected, and they can also be plugged in additional software and services inside the building, outside the building, and directly to the cloud. These enables these elevators to also be called via phone or integrated with the building’s automation, among many other options. By using open application programming interface (APIs), these elevators can be connected with KONE own apps, but also with customer or third-party applications, bringing new levels of customization and convenience. A building’s use can change, and this type of solution has the ability to adapt and upgrade the elevator experience according to the current need or future needs. In addition, they bring a whole new variety of design options and innovations, including anti-bacterial, anti-stain and anti-scratch surfaces, and sustainable materials to meet green building criteria.

What are your main goals for the rest of the year?

Fully in line with our strategy, we aim to continue developing solutions and services that help our clients to succeed in their businesses. To do this, we take care of our employees in order to take care of our customers. On a financial level, we will continue to grow sustainably throughout 2021. We foresee an improvement in the pandemic and, consequently, in the economy as the year progresses. We expect decision-making, projects and investments will continue across the board. In addition, we have a solid order book and maintenance base that allow us to face 2021 and the coming years with optimism.



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