KONE, one of the global leaders in the elevator and escalator industry celebrated, in December 2015, the opening of one of the world’s tallest elevator test towers. The new 36-floor tower is centrally located at the KONE Park manufacturing site, engineering facility and research and development (R&D) center in the Kunshan New and Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone in Eastern China.
Reaching a height of 235.6 meters, the tower contains 12 shafts that can be reconfigured for testing new high-rise solutions and components. Permanent features include a high-speed elevator that carries visitors to a sky lobby and showroom at speed of up to 10m/s. This is the world’s first double-decker elevator to feature KONE UltraRope(TM) super-light rope technology.
“The new test tower demonstrates our strong commitment to developing R&D in mid- and high-rise elevator technology. We are the industry leader in China, and this investment will further strengthen our position in a rapidly changing market. Now that we have additional capacity and capability to test our innovations, we will be able to deliver new products faster than ever before,” says Henrik Ehrnrooth, CEO and President at KONE.
The Kunshan test tower is the tallest among KONE’s eight global testing facilities. KONE’s underground testing facility in Tytyri, Finland, is 305 meters deep, allowing the company to test elevators at speeds up to 17 m/s – the only testing facility in the world where such speeds can be reached. In the new Kunshan test tower, the maximum speed is 15 m/s.
The Kunshan R&D team works in close collaboration with KONE’s existing high-rise laboratory researchers in Finland. “It will bring our R&D units in Finland and China closer together. Geographically it benefits us to have two separate laboratories near our markets in Europe and Asia, serving both hemispheres,” adds Ehrnrooth.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn, the Vice Mayor of Suzhou Xu Huimin, as well as KONE Chairman Antti Herlin, and KONE President and CEO Henrik Ehrnrooth.
Finnish flagship corporation KONE began operations in China in 1996, when it registered the KONE Elevators Co., Ltd. subsidiary. The first Kunshan factory was opened in 1998 at a site that is now in the middle of a residential area. The new KONE Park in Kunshan was opened in 2013, and today it is KONE’s largest manufacturing unit in the world. KONE also operates through its majority-owned GiantKONE joint venture. KONE has a network of over 500 locations in China, employing over 13,000 people. KONE is the leading company in the Chinese market in terms of new elevator and escalator orders.