Welcome to the Silicon Valley of high-rise technology. The KONE Park manufacturing and R&D centre in Kunshan, China is where cutting-edge high-rise innovations undergo rigorous testing.
In the middle of it all, towering 235 metres above the flat landscape, is the newly inaugurated 36-floor Kunshan Test Tower. This is literally a skyscraper like no other: You’ll find no offices, apartments or commercial space inside, only a vast machine room and twelve lift shafts. And – here’s the twist – what you’ll find inside those shafts is liable to change from one month to the next.
“The whole tower is basically a technical chameleon. The elevators in the test shafts will be constantly reconfigured. We’ll be dismantling and installing new lifts, or at least new components, on a monthly basis,” says Antti Hoppania, Director for Reliability and Quality KONE Technology.
Among the few permanent installations is a super-fast 10 m/s double-deck lift which carries visitors from the ground level to the sky lobby and showroom. This is the world’s very first double-deck elevator to feature KONE UltraRope™ super-light rope technology.
Another permanent fixture is an industrial lift that travels the full distance up to the 36th floor and is reserved solely for R&D activities. The tower also provides KONE with a unique location to invite customers to see its latest innovations in action.
Having the test tower located in the middle of an existing R&D and production park will significantly boost KONE’s agility. “Now that we have more capacity, muscle and speed, we’ll be able to deliver new products to market faster than ever before,” says Hoppania.
The Kunshan Test Tower is the ‘Asian twin’ of the KONE high-rise laboratory in Tytyri, Finland.
“We needed additional capacity and capability to support our high-rise testing efforts. Earlier, we were dependent on our Finnish unit and smaller test shafts in Kunshan, but their heights were nothing compared to this,” explains Hoppania.
NEW HEIGHTS IN R&D
The geographical location is ideal, as it unites KONE’s two research units in Finland and China. “Now we are physically closer to our Asian customers and have two teams working as a close-knit unit across the eastern and western hemispheres,” he adds.
“KONE is a major player driving technological development in the mid- and high-rise market. This new landmark dedicated exclusively to R&D is a visually powerful symbol of our commitment to taking lift technology to truly new heights.”