May 19, 2020

New sideways elevators could ease London Underground travel stress

transport for london
Thyssenkrupp
London First
WSP
Real GDPR
3 min
New sideways elevators could ease London Underground travel stress

Elevator manufacturer thyssenkrupp has developed the MULTI solution, a Willy Wonka-style elevator which moves upwards and sideways which could hold the key to opening up access to Metro lines across Europe.

Thought-leaders from Transport for London (TfL), London First, Arup, WSP, thyssenkrupp and Weston Williamson gathered in London today in an exclusive panel debate to discuss the latest technology set to transform metro stations and bring them in line with 21st century demands.

Up for discussion was thyssenkrupp’s MULTI solution, referred to as the Willy Wonka elevator, which moves upwards and sideways.

With population growth and urbanisation driving more people to cities than ever before, metro stations – which are the beating heart of city life, transporting people from home to work and other daily destinations – are facing unprecedented challenges to mobility and efficiency.

In London alone the population is growing at a rate of 1.5 percent year-on-year, reaching almost 8.6 million in 2015. Implementing new technology at key city transport hubs is essential to get people from A to B as effectively as possible.

The panel debate came at an important time, as pressures on the London Underground – the world’s oldest underground transport network - continue to mount. Passenger numbers have risen 33 percent in the past decade and some 1.34 billion passengers use the underground every year.

As people’s lifestyles evolve and commuters seek to achieve a better work/life balance, transport hubs are also increasingly being developed into retail and dining locations; places people want to stay, rather than leave quickly. As seen so clearly in stations such as Waterloo and King’s Cross, metro hubs are now centres of human interaction, where people can enjoy a comfortable environment for commuting and leisure activities alike.

However moving people around transport networks easily and effectively is not an easy task. Metro stations are complex infrastructures that connect several rail lines overlapped in a very restricted space. The capital’s busiest tube station, London Waterloo, handles 95 million passengers every year and the deepest platform in the network is 58 meters below street level, at Hampstead. Commuting time and passenger comfort should be at the forefront of all considerations for re-designing these metro and railway stations to ensure they can accommodate the needs of the modern-day traveller.

MULTI is the world’s first horizontal/vertical ‘Willy Wonka’ elevator that can open up new directions of travel in underground transport hubs. MULTI breaks the 160-year tradition of rope-driven elevators and has been designed to increase passenger shaft capacity by 50 percent. It does this by enabling multiple cabins to travel safely up one shaft and down another in a single continuous loop, much like a circular shuttle. The only visible difference to passengers is that the doors can open every 15 to 30 seconds.

Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO at technology leader thyssenkrupp Elevator added: “MULTI was initially developed for tall buildings, to double elevator shaft capacity, reduce elevator footprint, and offer vertical and horizontal movement to enable architects to construct taller, more creative and more user friendly structures, but its concept makes it a prime solution to the challenges of metro stations as well. If applied it would undoubtedly change the face of London’s transport network, and reinforce the UK’s position at the head of global innovations. Yet it also offers a practical solution that could ease congestion in dozens of underground networks across the world too; a thought that makes you realize its potential to be one of the most revolutionary new developments of our time.”

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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