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“The way we work will have a huge impact on our success”

Inauguration of the Schindler EPFL Lab, from the right: M.Gruber, M.Vetterli, Ch.Studer, S.Napoli, P.Hess, K.-H.Bauer, M.Thémans, D.Carparelli © Alain Herzog 2018 EPFL

Inauguration of the Schindler EPFL Lab, from the right: M.Gruber, M.Vetterli, Ch.Studer, S.Napoli, P.Hess, K.-H.Bauer, M.Thémans, D.Carparelli © Alain Herzog 2018 EPFL

Based in Lucerne, the swiss company Schindler chooses EPFL Innovation Park to open the Schindler Lab. Their first laboratory directly connected to a university was inaugurated on December 19th. Martin Kusserow, responsible for the lab, explains what they aim to do.

Martin, tell us about the idea behind the Schindler Lab?

Schindler’s New Technologies department evaluates latest technologies and its applicability in the elevator and escalator industry. In the spirit of this special team that we are part of, we really want to go for new things. Of course, always following the idea that Schindler moves people from A to B. There is now a momentum to stretch our perspective towards research. We will look into new technologies, new projects, and new opportunities to bring innovation to life. Often the new stuff comes from outside the company: There are start-ups and students doing new things, and the EPFL professors and researchers of course. And that’s why we choose the place where all these worlds interact, the EPFL Innovation Park, including all its services and support.

How does your team work here in the Schindler Lab?

We integrate students through internships and master’s theses. Our interns self-organize their team and are connected in modern ways to our Schindler headquarters in Lucerne. You’ve seen the screen there in the office, it provides a permanent connection as if we were in the same room as our colleagues. So, it is not only the content that changes through digitalization but also the way we can interact with each other. It’s much more natural if you see the person and quickly talk. I’m convinced that the way we work will have a huge impact on our lab’s success.

What type of projects will you address?

The core direction together with our lab’s students and collaborators is mobility of the future. How will we move in the future between places - vertically and horizontally? Many subjects are involved such as smart cities, including, as we are on the EPFL campus, smart campus. Together with EPFL students and researchers, we want to move into this direction and really explore these things hands-on on the EPFL campus. This is also where we hope that we can contribute together with EPFL – we are in touch with the Sustainable Campus unit for example. 

Digitalization will be one of the key points, including machine learning. For students of various backgrounds, for example math and computer science, this is an opportunity with a low entry barrier into our exciting field of mobility because it requires almost no knowledge about elevators and escalators. And for us, working with and getting inspired by students from different domains is great value.