In some businesses, to say technology is constantly reaching new heights is a literal truth. For example, lift company Otis can point to iconic structures such as Jardine House, Central Plaza and the 88-storey Two IFC to mark some of the more significant milestones in its corporate history. Each in its day was Hong Kong's tallest building and, on completion, each represented an important series of scientific advances in the field of lift technology.
"As a regional engineering hub, we continue to introduce flagship products and patented technology," says Jeremy Youker, senior manager of the contract logistics centre at Otis Elevator Company (Hong Kong). "This, though, isn't just to deal with the rise, or increasing height, of new buildings. It is also to help save costs, reduce maintenance and improve energy efficiency."
He says that a recently introduced regenerative drive system cuts energy use by up to 75 per cent compared with traditional lifts. The design allows excess heat and power generated by descending lifts to be fed back into the building's electrical grid. Coupled with the use of innovative polyurethane-coated steel belts, instead of steel ropes, gearless machines installed in the hoistway, double-deck cabs and special software to control car assignments, it is possible to slash operating costs while incorporating green features and markedly increasing the lifespan of each unit.
"These things are now more of a concern for developers, property managers and tenants," Youker says. "And the technology is not only suitable for new buildings, but also for older properties that owners are looking to upgrade and modernise."
Otis is very optimistic about growth prospects in the next few years. Factors accounting for such confidence include the number of new infrastructure projects, a buoyant level of orders and inquiries, and the accelerating shift towards environmentally friendly policies.
Electrical and Mechanical Services Department data shows that about 18,000 lifts in Hong Kong are more than 20 years old and potentially due for replacement.
The company has a 1,100-strong team covering the local market, and projects across a region that stretches from Australia to the Middle East.
"We look at the layout and the likely flow of traffic through the building, based on the type of tenants and the number of people per floor," Youker says. "Later, we may be involved with consultants to do the design of the vertical transportation systems, which depends on the height of the building and [what] particular features the customer is looking for."
Anticipating steady growth, Otis expects to hire regularly over the coming months. According to Carrie Mak, senior manager for human resources, there will be openings for sales, contract and field engineers. These roles are responsible for handling tenders, ensuring performance and providing technical support and improvement respectively. There will also be opportunities for designers and service engineers who focus on maintenance, repair and after-sales support.
"It is nice if candidates have relevant experience, but what they most need is the right attitude to fit into our corporate culture," Mak says. "Career progression is subject to individual performance. But we have a structured succession plan to identify high-potential employees, and to give people the chance to take up different roles [and] get international exposure."