International standardization in the smart lifts sector will build on the foundations we pioneered with oneM2M


Marco Cogliati is the Director for Research Design & User Experience at TRE-E scrl, a consortium of elevator and escalator industry service providers operating across Italy. In this interview, he discusses his activities in standardizing new ways to capture, share and apply data from elevators.

Q: Would you begin by introducing yourself and your role with TRE-E?

MC: My name is Marco Cogliati, I have a diploma in the mechanical sector. I started working in the lift sector in 1995 and I have always dealt with the design of lifts and elevation systems. I have carried out many different projects all around the world (about 20.000) with the technical studio I founded.  I joined the TRE-E consortium in 2015 and held various roles mainly related to technical topics. With my experience in areas related to the design of systems, I began by supporting companies in design and feasibility studies of new and special systems. I also worked on projects to renovate existing lifts, designing in compliance with national and European Standards. Nowadays, I am TRE-E’s official contact person in the Italian (UNI), European (CEN and ETSI) and international (ISO) technical commissions. This activity is considered strategic by TRE-E for its growth.  Last but not least, I have an R&D role to look into new technologies. In terms of the IoT, I managed the development of our IoT platform based on technical specifications published by ETSI. I am the rapporteur for one of ETSI’s working groups and collaborated with a team of experts through various phases of the technical specification process. Another technology topic is Artificial Intelligence and here I manage a working group with the University of Florence which is developing an initial approach to predictive maintenance through AI. This is an activity that overlaps with BIM - Building Information Modeling. 

Q: Your CEO outlined TRE-E’s business model in an earlier interview. How would you describe TRE-E’s technical model?  

MC: TRE-E entrusted me with the task of overseeing technical, regulatory, and R&D activities. The first two are managed with direct interventions on the problems and with training courses, both online and in-person, for the heads of the technical areas of our member companies. In particular, we focus on regulatory and standards updates. In our working meetings, I share technical experiences, solutions and aspects related to changes or updates to industry standards.

For the part concerning R&D, I organize knowledge sharing meetings. This is where I share results and update company managers on the current state of affairs and future progress of ongoing projects. These are very important occasions to identify new needs and to direct development requests.

Q: What opportunities does IoT enable in the lifts sector?

MC: IoT is opening up in all market sectors. I believe that the sector related to vertical mobility will also be increasingly involved in this world. In our business, I see several opportunities. One part falls in the commercial sphere and involves the activities to create new tools services for the owners and managers of our local business partners. The other part will have an impact on the technical capabilities of each company. We can improve maintenance services, the management and procurement of spare parts, warehouse management and intervention management with the help of AI. As a result, our members can increase their product and service efficiency.  

Q: How did TRE-E approach the challenge of building IoT into your framework for managing lifts?

MC: TRE-E has been attempting an approach to the IoT world for several years. Personally, I have been following and informing myself on this topic since 2017. Internally we launched several study projects related to the IoT. The early experiments, at an economic level, were not sustainable. This was because the solutions proposed to us were essentially based on "proprietary" products and not very adaptable to our systems.

Q: So, what happened next?

MC: We decided to try our own approach, building on the scale of our member companies. In October 2019 I joined the EFESME (European Federation for Elevator Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). This was with support from SBS (Small Business Standard) which is supported by the European Union and EFTA Member States with the aim of representing SME interests in European and international standardization activities.  Working as a sector expert, I started to participate in ETSI’s Smart M2M Technical Committee (TC Smart M2M). This gave me the opportunity to meet IT / ICT experts. Working with other industry experts, we created a pilot project for Smart Lifts. Over the following three years I was actively involved in developing three documents related to the integration of elevators and escalators in the IoT world. The first of these was a technical report (TR 103.546), to study the key issues and requirements. This led to the second two which were technical specification documents (TS 103.735 and TS 103.849).  

Q: Given that standardization is important to your work, how do you work with formal standards development organizations?

MC: I believe that standardization plays a fundamental role in our work. With the support of TRE-E, I had the opportunity to take part in various technical commissions and national, European, and international working groups. In the Italian standardization body (UNI) I am present as an expert in the CT019 (Lifts) working group and in the CT033 (Construction) working group that deals with BIM. In CEN I am an expert in the TC10 (Lifts) and in two other working groups. I already mentioned that I contribute in ETSI’s TC Smart M2M as an expert on behalf of SBS/EFESME. At the international level, I am part of TC178 (Lifts) in ISO. I also participate in working group 13 (WG13) on “New Technologies”. Within the European Digital SME Alliance, I am part I am also part of the “WG on Standards” which is linked to the development of standardization in the digitization sector. My involvement has given me the opportunity to understand how digitization topics are developing in other sectors. My standardization work puts me in a good position to share knowledge in other circles. For example, I regularly share documents published by ETSI with several lift parts manufacturers to involve and confirm the practical applicability of what we have done. So far, the conclusions are all positive. 

Q: How are you building your smart lifts system and what is its project timeline?

MC: Our IoT system was developed simultaneously with the writing of the ETSI technical specification TS 103.735 “Smart Lifts IoT System”. This work was very important because it allowed us to write a document and test that everything worked correctly in real time. As a representative of SBS/EFESME, my main concern was to draft a technical specification that could be used easily by European SMEs in the future. In 2020, TRE-E involved our main partner, which produces control panels and communication systems, in the project. This helped us develop the prototype project in a timely, simple, and adaptable way to sector technologies. Adaptation is necessary because oneM2M is a general standard for IoT in all different verticals. With our main partner and the support of experts from ETSI's TC SmartM2M we defined a prototype approach. Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) played a significant role in the implementation.  They provided access to their oneM2M platform on which the whole project was developed. TRE-E’s software house worked with TIM’s technical experts to manage the interaction between third-party, lift data and the oneM2M platform. The system was effective immediately and the use of an "open" platform played a fundamental role for us. The project is of interest to the outside world, and we talk about it a lot. Early indications and decisions taken at European and international standardization bodies bode well for a general alignment towards the open-standard approach. The conclusion of the prototype project is scheduled for mid-2023. This will allow us to release the complete system mapped on the lifts that our members service. 

Q: Do you have any advice for the lifts sector or SMEs in other industries?

MC: The lift sector in recent years has seen some companies approach digitization in a very "walled garden" way. We have seen some very interesting systems, but they have been too closed to the outside. IoT systems, by their very nature, must be open and interoperable. In general, I think that the use of non-proprietary platforms allows for better development, customizing products and services and ensuring system interoperability. There is one additional benefit because this approach avoids wasting time and money on generic development issues such as the common service functions in oneM2M which are designed to be re-usable. Considering the approach, structure, and specific skills of the oneM2M project, but above all, the work that has been done in all sectors, I believe that this approach can be of great benefit to SMEs in every market sector.