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PORTUGAL - Real Estate & Construction

Filipe Nóbrega

Managing Director, KONE Ibérica


Filipe Nóbrega is Managing Director of KONE in Spain, Portugal, and Andorra. He is graduated in mechanical engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico of Lisboa (IST) and holds an MBA on General Management from IMD Business School in Switzerland. He accumulates more than 20 years of international experience in leadership roles with strong customer focus. He has a strong know-how in leading, executing and coordination all business activities of a company with full P&L responsibility. In 2011 he joined KONE as Managing Director of Czech Republic and Slovakia and in 2015 took over the position of Area Director Modernization for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Since 2019, he holds the position of Managing Director of KONE Spain, Portugal and Andorra.

"In the cities of the future, we can significantly help with the building connectivity, where elevators, escalators and automatic doors play a key role."
Filipe Nóbrega, Managing Director of KONE Ibérica, about the urban mobility industry, the future of cities, and the “Internet of Things.”
What trends are driving the urban mobility industry?

What was traditionally a product-related industry, has shifted towards a service and solutions industry. An elevator or an escalator was just a piece of the whole building system but today thanks to connectivity they can provide added value to customers. By integrating the equipment with other elements – driven by Internet of Things and AI – the building becomes a complete ecosystem to provide customers’ enhanced efficiency, reliability and comfort. Nowadays, 50% of the global population lives in urban areas and by 2050 that number is expected to increase to two thirds. To make these urban environments manageable and liveable, buildings must be smarter and environmentally friendly. They need to be connected and efficient. For example, a portion of the EU funds is related to the efficiency and sustainability of buildings. So, there is a significant investment there, both in new buildings and in refurbishment. To make city dwellers’ daily life better and more pleasant, KONE works directly with city planners to improve the flow of urban environments.

How is KONE’s business evolving in the face of market requirements?

KONE’s business consists of three segments: 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. The market trends of efficiency and sustainability are transversal in these three business lines. Buildings are designed to be more sustainable, while maintenance and refurbishment are intended for matters of efficiency. There is also still a significant portion of market need related to accessibility. Many of the buildings that exist in Portugal were built during a significant construction boom in the 1970s and 1980s and were not conceived at the time anticipating accessibility or future mobility needs of the tenants. Considering the longevity and aging of the population – and buildings – it is a great opportunity to ensure a safe and comfortable movement for all. Sustainable and accessible buildings are the central element of urban regeneration, and they need to respond and adapt to our future needs, not only in terms of safe mobility but also eco-efficiency.

How does KONE work to make elevators and escalators more energy-efficient and better for the long-term energy consumption of buildings?

Traditionally, and in terms of technology, KONE has been known for being the most innovative company in the industry. The groundbreaking developments in the industry for the last 30 years have been pioneered by KONE, and the same goes for sustainability. We were the first company to really pledge science-based targets in terms of greenhouse gas reduction. We pledged to reduce 50% of energy consumption and committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. This 50% also applies to energy consumption during the full lifecycle of equipment. We were the first to do this and have the highest ambition in terms of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. As an example, nowadays more than 70% of our offices in Portugal and Spain are supplied with green electricity. We are transitioning our fleet of 700 cars to hybrid or electric. A lot has also been done on the equipment itself: we have class A energy efficiency elevators. Just as an example of the significant environmental impact than an elevator can have, our current KONE elevators are up to 90% more energy-efficient than the ones installed in the 1990s, so only the elevator has the potential to significantly reduce our customers energy consumption and carbon footprint. As a result, when we refurbish a building, one of the main topics—aside from obviously improving the ride comfort and aesthetics—is eco-efficiency. Our objective is to be a leader in sustainability, not only in our own industry, but also beyond. We want to help our customers make cities better places to live, and we want to be their most trusted partner throughout their building life cycle.

Given the rise of IoT, what commercial relationships can expedite the rollout of products and technologies?

Partnerships are important for product development and maintenance. In 2020, we launched KONE DX elevators: a market revolution by being the first elevators with fully in-built connectivity. As a customer, I can call the elevator from my phone and select which floor I’m going to, so KONE can receive information in real time about my movements and also customize the elevator according to my preferences. In essence, it is as if the elevator has an app store being able to relate not only to KONE own apps, but also with customer or third-party applications, bringing new levels of customization and convenience. So, basically, this is some of what we’ve been doing together with our partner ecosystem and customers. Another example is something we launched almost five years ago, KONE Connected 24/7, which is a service of predictive maintenance that gathers data from sensors installed in the elevators and automatically sends them to the cloud. In this case, we partnered with Amazon Web Services to use IoT for gathering data from sensors installed in the elevators that are automatically sent to the Cloud. And this data is collected by the hundreds of thousands of units that we have globally. The information is collected by the sensors installed in all the units and they automatically send it to the cloud, where AI and Amazon Web Services operate constantly analyzing data. So, if the elevator door movement normally takes a second but suddenly takes 1.5 seconds, it raises a warning alert. And before a breakdown occurs, it automatically sends a message to the field technician who immediately investigates the situation. It is a way of reducing the breakdowns of the equipment, increasing its reliability and minimizing problems. It is a huge advantage, and this is achieved because of the IoT and our work with certain partners to provide an optimum service quality.

How do you envision cities of the future, and what role can KONE play in them?

In the cities of the future, we can significantly help with the building connectivity, where elevators, escalators and automatic doors play a key role. Imagine if I am in my office and have everything connected on my phone, to the point that I can tell my voice assistant to turn off the lights, call the elevator to the ground floor and during the ride show in its screens when the next metro will pass by my train station. In 2022, we had a meeting with the city planners of Lisbon and Cascais—two of the most advanced smart and connected cities in Portugal—to explain how we can help them in terms of mobility. Because of all the data we have about people and elevators—thanks to the cloud sensors—KONE can help a lot by knowing when movement is done and connecting numerous building elements intelligently.



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