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Urbanisation: vertical and horizontal transportation in the city of the future

29 May 2018

The fast and safe transportation of people in growing urban structures is one of the big challenges of the future. Convenient, time-saving transport in smart cities and smart buildings cannot be achieved without intelligent elevators, travelators and escalators. This provides considerable challenges for both building operators and the elevator and escalator industry as a whole. In September, Messe Frankfurt jointly with the VDMA association will be organising the E2 Forum Frankfurt in Frankfurt am Main, where decision-makers in the building management business will be able to discuss the key issues with the elevator and escalator industry. Under the heading ‘Innovation, digitalisation and sustainability in the buildings of tomorrow’, the conference deals with the crucial issues relating to the digital integration of elevator and escalator systems in buildings.

Industry profile

The elevator and escalator industry is one of the major industrial segments both in Germany and in many other countries. According to the VDMA (Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers) annual report on the development trends and challenges in the elevator and escalator industry, in 2017, the industry in Germany accounted for turnover of more than € 2.5 billion and approx. 17,000 employees, together with some 750,000 installed elevators and 36,000 escalators. The companies involved cover a spectrum of activities ranging from the production of entire installations and / or components to sales and fitting of elevators, escalators and travelators, as well as maintenance, repair and modernisation. At the same time, the market in Germany is extremely diverse. On the one hand, the market is determined largely by the four major companies, Kone, Otis, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp, with around a 60 percent share. On the other hand, according to the 2015 IMU Institute’s report on the industry, there are lots of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the industry, with, altogether, a 40 percent market share.

Continually growing market

Turnover in the elevator and escalator industry has, over the past few years, been continuously on the up, which is linked to the significantly increased activity in both industrial and domestic building work. As a result, sales and orders in building works grew by 9.8 and 6.7 percent respectively in 2017. In a similar vein, the orders for elevators in 2017 were up by 2.4 percent and for escalators by as much as 53.5 percent, according to the VDMA’s annual report 2017. And entries in the order books have also shown a continuous increase from € 191 million in 2013 to € 227.2 million in 2017. The overwhelming majority of the companies from the elevator and escalator sector in the VDMA (Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers) assess the current situation as good and rate their expectations of business in the coming six months as better or equally good.

Excellent prospects in the building trade

And the development of the market for elevators and escalators is also set to be closely linked to activity in the building sector. Projections for the building industry are similar to the expectations of companies in the elevator and escalator industry. In its medium-term forecast for Germany, the Ifo Institute assumes that work in the construction industry will continue to grow in the current year. The level of building achieved as a result (around a fifth more than the annual value in 2009) should continue more or less unchanged until the end of the decade.

The upsurge in the construction of new domestic dwellings has been the driving force behind the positive developments since 2009. Particularly important for the elevator industry has been the considerable increase in the building of multiple-occupancy dwellings. Because of the recent increase in demand for domestic dwellings, and also because of the growing lack of space in increasingly congested urban areas, the buildings now being built are bigger – or rather taller. Since the annual targets for additional building in the residential sector are a long way from being attained, we can reckon on a healthy rate of building work well into the next decade.

Construction work is, according to the findings of the Ifo Institute, set to remain at a high level over the next few years. There will, at the same time, be an emphasis on the construction of taller structures.  Source: Ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, April 2018
Construction work is, according to the findings of the Ifo Institute, set to remain at a high level over the next few years. There will, at the same time, be an emphasis on the construction of taller structures. Source: Ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, April 2018

The increased construction work since 2016, on the part of both commercial and public commissioning authorities, is currently benefitting the elevator and escalator sector significantly. “There are several reasons why we can expect lively building activity in the coming years and the dearth of homes in many places will improve only slowly. Quite apart from the residential sector, however, there will continue to be significant demand for additional floor area in offices, logistics facilities, schools and hotels, to name but a few. Alongside this, local authorities have recently, once again, been given increased room for manoeuvre in terms of financial investment. In spite of sluggish progress in the new-build sector, there is likely also be a clear focus, in the future, on the upkeep of the existing building stock.” Such is the view of Ludwig Dorffmeister of the ifo Institute in his speech at the VDMA annual meeting in April.

Visionary ideas for the future of buildings and infrastructure

The elevator and escalator industry is one of the most innovative areas of business in the mechanical engineering sector in Germany. Not least through the introduction of European and national standards, manufacturers have been introducing a host of new ideas onto the market, many of them ground-breaking in their field and generally leading to significant cost-savings on the part of the customer. These include, amongst other things, the electrically powered, machine-room-less elevator and, more recently, the cableless elevator, which moves at high speed both vertically and horizontally in the building. This historical background, studded with innovation as it is, is set to help the companies in the elevator and escalator sector overcome the challenges that the future holds and that arise as a result of trends such as demographic change and urbanisation.

The conference in the E2 Forum Frankfurt will, in accordance with these developments, focus on the following current issues: Building Information Modelling (BIM) from the customers point of view; planning buildings with elevators, taking into consideration questions of noise abatement and ventilation; rules and regulations for planning elevators and the factors which impact on fire protection measures: digitalisation concepts in the light of the challenges imposed by cloud-based solutions and IoT applications in buildings: the demands of energy and cost efficiency requirements on maintenance; interfaces with building regulations, norms and standards, operational obligations and the implications of the elevator as a piece of equipment in the workplace.

The list of exhibitors includes leading manufacturers of elevators, escalators and relevant components, such as Bosch Service Solutions, Cedes (Switzerland), Kleemann, Kollmorgen, Kone, Meiller, OSMA, OTIS, RLS Wacon, Schindler Deutschland, Serapid Deutschland, Siemens, Thyssenkrupp Elevator, Vestner and Wittur.

Trade fairs for the challenges facing building services engineering and the domestic construction industry

The E2 Forum Frankfurt will be taking place for the first time on 18 and 19 September 2018, in the Forum.1 conference building at the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre. It is planned as a forum for innovation that will take place on a two-yearly cycle. The E2 Forum Frankfurt is being organised by Messe Frankfurt, in collaboration with the Elevators and Escalators Division of the VDMA (Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers), who are taking on responsibility for the content and planning of the conference element. You will find further information on the internet at:

The E2 Forum Frankfurt is the third elevator and escalator sector event in Messe Frankfurt’s building technologies portfolio, which includes the perennially successful IEE-Expo in Mumbai (India) and the E2 Forum Milan, introduced in 2016. In the expert field of building technologies Messe Frankfurt organises a total of 25 trade fairs on three continents, including the world’s two leading trade fair brands for building technologies: Light + Building and ISH. Further information is available internationally at:,,

Sources and further reading for the press:

Elevator and escalator sector in Germany. Developments, trends and challenges. Sector report 2015, IMU Institut GmbH, commissioned by the Hans-Böckler Foundation and IG Metall, 2015

Mechanical engineering in figures and graphics 2017, Economics and Statistics Division of the VDMA 2017:

VDMA Annual report 2017:

Mittelfristige Perspektiven für den Hochbau in Deutschland (Medium-term prospects for the construction industry in Germany – In German), Ifo Institute – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich; Ludwig Dorffmeister, research specialist construction work and real estate, April 2018

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Background information about the Elevators and Escalators Division of the VDMA

The Elevators and Escalators Division of the VDMA (Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers) represents approx. 90 per cent of the German market for lifts, escalators and moving pavements. There are currently 750,000 elevator systems installed in Germany, of which some 640,000 are for carrying people. For escalators, the current figure is around 36,000 installed units. Turnover in the sector, which employs approximately 17,000 people, amounts to more than two billion euros.

Further information is available at:

Background information on Messe Frankfurt

Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. With over 2,500 employees at some 30 locations, the company generates annual sales of around €661* million. Thanks to its far-reaching ties with the relevant sectors and to its international sales network, the Group looks after the business interests of its customers effectively. A comprehensive range of services – both onsite and online – ensures that customers worldwide enjoy consistently high quality and flexibility when planning, organising and running their events. The wide range of services includes renting exhibition grounds, trade fair construction and marketing, personnel and food services.
With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent). * preliminary figures for 2017

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