Finding Holiday Cheer

A still from a commercial for retailer IKEA shows two strangers making the best of their holiday while trapped in an elevator. Image produced by stv DDB via Ad Week.

As we approach the holidays, we are reminded to count our blessings. For most of us, that’s easy to do, because our greatest gifts — friends and family — are with us to enjoy the season. Not everyone, however, is so fortunate. According to figures cited by Sweden-based IKEA, a housewares retailer best known for its do-it-yourself furniture, about three in 10 people spend their holidays away from family. To help illustrate the point, IKEA teamed up with Italian advertising agency stv DDB to create a charming commercial that features … you guessed it: a broken elevator with two strangers trapped inside. A big thank you to industry publication Ad Week for bringing the spot to our attention; watch it here on their website.

IoT is Useful For So Much More Than Ordering a Pizza

Thanks to IoT, elevators can tell their repair technicians when maintenance is needed.

I have to admit, when I first started hearing about the Internet of Things (IoT), I was skeptical about the usefulness of having a thermostat or a refrigerator online. It sounded silly, kind of like the TV commercial in which a teenager walks into the kitchen and begins barking commands at appliances: “Computer, order pizza! Fridge, weather! Trash can, turn on the TV!”

We’re all aware of smart-home technology, so the commercial’s scenario isn’t really all that outlandish. And, being able to remotely operate your thermostat really does offer an advantage over old-school, manual pressing of buttons. But, the area where IoT is perhaps making its biggest splash is in industrial maintenance — specifically, predictive maintenance. With that in mind, buildings.com recently published an article, “Predictive Maintenance: Top 10 Ways IoT is Changing Elevators.” We list them here:

  1. Monitoring Operating Conditions
  2. Predictive Maintenance
  3. Remote Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
  4. Real-Time Notifications
  5. Behavioral Insights
  6. Avoided Downtime
  7. Increased Product Reliability
  8. Flexible Communication Standards
  9. Less Frequent Replacement
  10. Enabling Better Facilities Management

For details about each point, click, tap or command your phone to take you to the link above.

Would Wood Be Good?

Of all the recent advances in tall-building construction, perhaps the most counterintuitive is the nascent move toward wood as the primary material for high-rise towers. Yes, wood construction is environmentally friendly. It comes from trees that trap atmospheric carbon dioxide (a gas that, most scientists say, is the cause of manmade climate change); it’s a renewable resource; and, according to experts, the manufacturing process for wooden building products emits less carbon than that for any other material used in construction.

But, wood isn’t as strong as steel and concrete, right? And, an even bigger concern: wood burns. It’s not hard to imagine a giant timber tower being quickly devoured by flames. It’s an image that’s hard to shake.

A recent article posted on the website Fast Company, however, may put these fears to rest. In it, author Jesus Diaz tells of Mjøstårnet, an 18-story, 265-ft.-tall project being built in Brumunddal, Norway, that will soon be the world’s tallest all-wood building. With the help of a five-part mini-documentary produced by construction company Moelven, we learn that the latest engineered-wood building materials are both strong and fire-resistant. We also learn of innovative construction techniques being employed on this jobsite.

It’s not likely that wood will replace steel and concrete in every future high-rise project. But, it does appear to be a viable option for many types of buildings.