Ready for the World
Longtime door-maker Meiller is planning an expansion beyond its European home.
Historically, elevator door manufacturer Meiller Aufzugtüren GmbH has served German- speaking regions of Europe from its home base in Munich, Germany. In recent years, it gained footholds and market share in other parts of Central and Northern Europe. And now? “Now, we are looking also to expand to overseas countries, worldwide,” said Markus Mannig, head of export sales.
Meiller Aufzugtüren is an independent subsidiary of the Meiller Group, an industrial company known for its hydraulic tipper trucks and other equipment used in the construction sector. Though it counts a payroll of about 150 people (all located at the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility in Munich), the elevator-door unit is looking to expand and add staff to its sales, technical and production departments.
Customers include elevator companies large and small, from OEMs to independent lift companies. End users include large infrastructure developments (rail and metro stations, airports and power plants), manufacturing facilities (automobile factories and chemical plants), commercial developments (shopping centers) and governmental functions (city works, hospitals and public housing).
Meiller’s product strategy has been to focus on niches and supplement customers’ standard product ranges. Meiller provides country- specific products; strong and robust doors for goods elevators and heavy-duty lifts designed according to specific demands; vandal-resistant doors for public uses, such as rail stations; and modernization products that meet custom specifications.
Meiller’s product line includes standard sliding doors, both center- opening and telescopic, from two to six panels (available in metal and glass); high-performance doors, including the SPEED system, which combines high-speed function with smooth, quiet operation (also available in glass); industrial doors up to six panels wide; vandal- and fire-resistant doors for heavy-use applications (such as rail stations); swing doors for both passenger and industrial applications; vertical doors (Genius roller shutter car doors and Premius four-panel telescopic landing- and car-door systems); ScooterGuard safety doors, which prevent mobility scooters from falling into the shaft, and the FingerGuard safety system, which prevents finger trapping; customized modernization packages for major OEMs; and the Meiller intelligent Drive (MiDrive) system, a CANopen- equipped digital door drive that saves energy, simplifies service logistics, facilitates predictive maintenance and gathers data that can be used to improve door functioning or contribute to upgraded designs (ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2018). It also provides enough energy to operate electric interlocks, eliminating the need for a separate power supply.
The company has a two-pronged strategic focus: new installations and modernizations. New installations include doors for heavy-duty goods lifts and passenger elevators (high availability, high use, special designs and environments, fast doors and special solutions, such as inclined lifts). For modernizations, Meiller specializes in replacing car doors (retaining original landing doors), new door drives and retroactively installing car doors on goods lifts. Modernizations cover a wide range of dimensions and applications.
Meiller offers products for large and even extraordinary-sized goods lifts, such as automotive lifts. It is also known for special designs and materials, such as glass, stainless-steel and other high-grade surfaces within custom designs. Special-use lift doors are another popular product, for heavy-use areas such as the food industry or where explosion-proof capabilities are mandated, such as at chemical plants.
Mannig said the biggest challenge facing the company is international online services, specifically in providing good aftersales service to customers. This challenge can be overcome, he said, through the use of new technologies. For example, linking Meiller’s Munich office to door controllers anywhere may allow problems to be addressed remotely. Or, modern online communication programs, such as WhatsApp or Skype, will allow direct communication between Munich-based engineers and technicians in the field.
The main challenge for the industry in general, he said, is the digitization of elevator components, technological advances through which elevators become systems with networked components (for example, via CANopen) offering added value for owners and supervisors. These intelligent systems boost function and reliability, and generate and evaluate data, providing a source of knowledge that becomes an engine for product development, new business ideas and potential sources of revenue. Non- intelligent mechanical systems will not share these attributes, and, thus, not reap the rewards.
MiDrive is one such system, building intelligence into the door-control unit, producing data that enhances service and maintenance (including predictive maintenance), and mitigates downtime and reduces labor and operating costs. It also facilitates remote operation and service, “extremely low” energy consumption and energy-management functions.
The best way to increase business, Mannig said, is to attend industry tradeshows and events, including gatherings of manufacturers, consultants and operators, and Meiller is in regular attendance at events in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the U.K. They typically will attend with partner companies, such as hydraulic systems manufacturer Algi, or controller-maker Kollmorgen. Major shows at which Meiller can be found include Interlift in Augsburg, Germany; Liftex in London; EURO-LIFT in Kielce, Poland; the World Elevator & Escalator Expo in Shanghai; and the International Lift Expo Korea in Seoul.
Meiller is a long-established manufacturer of hydraulic dump truck systems. The company’s roots date back to 1850, when blacksmith Lorenz Meiller founded a hammer mill and armory in Munich. The company began producing construction equipment and winches, and, in 1907, developed a winch-operated tipper system. In 1956, Meiller bought a controlling interest in Rathgeber, a longtime manufacturer of a broad range of products, including rail cars, industrial equipment and buses. That same year, Rathgeber began production of elevator doors. On January 1, 2000, the door division became the subsidiary Meiller Aufzugtüren.