Germany-based firm wants elevator and other industries to see there’s more to digitalization than minimizing paper.
published at ELEVATOR WORLD 2017-10 by Viviane Grammel
ELFIN GmbH was established in 2012 in Cologne, Germany. The company specializes in web technologies and open controlled area network (CAN)-based cross-linking of controllers and sensors, as well as digital signage.
ELFIN has three segments: agriculture consulting, engineering and lift technology. Today, the company is considered one of the leading innovators of cross-linking in the elevator industry and recently established a subsidiary in Plauen, East Germany. “At our core, we’re an inventive company,” says cofounder Michael Braun. “We move things through development.”
Managing Director Jörg Hellmich was one of the founding members of the CANopen Special Interest Group Lift in 2001. At the time, he was working as an experienced developer and project manager in the field of embedded software and hardware, dealing with the interconnection of elevator controllers, electronic components and lift-monitoring systems.
With more than 25 years’ experience in the elevator industry, Hellmich continues to serve as group chairman and is the driving force of the CANopen Special Interest Group Lift. When he met Braun and René Specht, friends who had decided to launch a management/ consulting firm, he says he was caught by their enterprising spirit. So, he decided to “jump on the bandwagon to help lay the foundation for ELFIN.”
The founders of ELFIN: Michael Braun, René Specht and Jörg Hellmich.
"It’s not enough anymore to just have products and services. The industry has to turn information and data into effective action.” — ELFIN Managing Director Jörg Hellmich.
On the Cutting Edge
The role of digital technology in the elevator industry has grown rapidly since ELFIN was founded. Hellmich recognized this early and decided to become part of this digital transformation. His vision was to create completely interconnected elevators. Today, elevators are more complex, and the interconnection of components is expected. Hellmich states: “We’ve changed massively over the past years. In the beginning, we were very focused on consulting and external development projects and didn’t really do our own ideas. Over time, we’ve seen cloud-based monitoring of elevators become much more important, and we’ve responded to that. It’s not enough anymore to just have products and services. The industry has to turn information and data into effective action. This is where we aim to help.”
Jörg Hellmich, Managing Director of ELFIN Technology.
ELFIN is an acronym for the company’s goal of developing services and products that can be described as elegant, functional and innovative. “Through intelligent solutions, the company pushes the boundaries of smart and connected products to make them universally accessible,” Hellmich says. Consequently, ELFIN is a proponent of the CANopen specification for lift-control systems becoming an accepted standard worldwide. The specification, CANopen-Lift, is an open, internationally standardized application profile that allows interoperability of lift components, regardless of manufacturer.
Products and Innovations
ELFIN’s first projects involved interconnecting electronic components manufactured by other companies in elevators through the internet. Just two years later in 2014, ELFIN began developing its own products, beginning with an internet gateway launched in 2014.
ELFIN counts its flexyPage display system among recent successes. Hellmich states flexyPage gives ELFIN a competitive edge with “a modern, flexible system for simultaneous display of lift information and multimedia presentations in and outside of lifts.” Thanks to the compatibility of CANopen-Lift, a variety of lift and sensor data, such as the load, speed, altitude and floor position, can be displayed, notes the company.
The flexyPage display system is complemented by web applications flexyPage Editor, flexyPage Manager and flexyPage Campaign. These allow for, among other things, customized, flexible screen designs and management, and remote configuration of all devices and users, as well as time-controlled advertising for digital signage. Sizes of the various displays vary from 10.1 to 65 in. ELFIN describes flexyPage as “the leading elevator display comprising the largest functional scope.”
ELFIN provides products and services based on embedded Linux, cloud services, CANopen and Modbus. ELFIN’s services encompass a product’s entire development process to “transform ideas into market-ready products.” Other products include the Universal Gateway LCL-01 for elevators and escalators and the Home-Pi SHC-01, a “smart” home-elevator controller.
Nowadays, ELFIN’s clients range from startups to well-known international brands across a wide range of sectors in the automation and elevator industries. Later this year, the company plans to launch new touch displays and interface applications.
Challenges and Future
There is no question digital technology is transforming the industry. ELFIN is embracing the challenges posed by new requirements and emerging business areas. Hellmich observes:
“We need to notice that, in a digital world, it is not only about products and services anymore. What becomes more and more important is the customer experience. Soon, elevator displays such as ours will become standard equipment.”
The ELFIN headquarters in Cologne, Germany.
Viviane Grammel was manager of the design and marketing department at ELFIN GmbH.