As a leading manufacturer of optosensor solutions, CEDES constantly seeks to break new ground. This requires unconventional thinking, passion and a love of the job. Continuous growth in our core elevator and entrance automation markets means we can offer both experienced professionals and enthusiastic young talent the chance to grow with us.
Have you ever thought about lifts with any great interest? Probably not. For most people, they exist solely for the purpose of doing exactly two things: going up and going down – and attracting as little attention to themselves as possible in the process. To ensure they can fulfil this purpose, companies such as CEDES devote themselves to details that nobody else has to think about. In Landquart in the canton of Graubünden, surrounded by a mountain panorama and alpine air, more than 200 employees undertake “mammoth efforts” to achieve this, explains Chief Engineer Marcial Lendi.
For five years, Marcial and his team have been working on the development of their flagship product, iDiscovery. “iDiscovery monitors safety-relevant components like motors and brakes to make sure they do not make any mistakes,” explains Marcial. After all, dealing with lifts is a lot like dealing with people: the more communication takes place, the more misunderstandings there are. One single button in a lift cabin features multiple wiring these days. And even if lifts can’t technically fall any more, “there’s always a chance that it won’t do what it’s supposed to.”
Lift technology as we know it today dates back to May 1854. According to legend, at a precursor to today’s expo, pioneer of lift technology Elisha Graves Otis allowed himself to be lifted to the ceiling in an elevator designed for lifting goods at the suggestion of a showman. Once he was sure he had the full attention of the audience, he pulled out a sword and cut the supporting ropes. The lift plummeted towards the floor, but stopped falling after just a few centimetres. The stopping brake developed by Otis worked. Just three years later, the first passenger lift was commissioned, and high buildings were suddenly a possibility.
Perhaps in future, we will even see lifts that are not attached by any cords. In Rottweil in Germany, Thyssenkrupp has been experimenting with cabins that are driven magnetically on parallel rails – not just up and down, but sideways too. This would mean that several cabins could be in operation at the same time, overtaking one another, preventing congestion and opening up new spaces. “That might sound crazy,” says Marcial, “but you have to start somewhere.” Elisha Graves Otis would surely agree.
A picture of Otis hangs in a conference room at CEDES. Marcial himself wears a T-shirt with “The Sensor Pioneers” printed on it. Very apt, even if the notion of revolution has become less dramatic these days. In a technologically advanced world, it is the sum of details that makes revolutions possible. It’s about fork light barriers, sensors and competing with China.
With iDiscovery, Marcial and CEDES are optimising lift technology as far as is still possible in this fiercely competitive high-tech market. From a manufacturer’s point of view, he is creating technology that will remain attractive in terms of price while maintaining at least the same level of quality. From the user’s point of view, he is creating technology that makes moving from one floor to another even more convenient. From a mechanic’s point of view, he is creating technology that will make assembly and maintenance even safer despite ever-increasing time pressure. This is where the majority of accidents happen – after all: “Even experienced technicians get things wrong from time to time.”
Despite its down-to-earth Graubünden attitude, CEDES is involved in some great visions for the future. In fact, the Rottweil magnetic lift prototypes are operational thanks to CEDES. “At the moment, we are the only company that manufactures safe sensors that work contactlessly,” says Marcial. Friction is non-existent, as is wear. But as revolutions have come and gone, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: “The end customer sees maybe 20 per cent of the work that goes into a lift.”
Remember that the next time you press one button with multiple wiring to go up or down a few floors.
It’s difficult to find a subject that Klims Saikins isn’t passionate about. He seems to have a deep enthusiasm for just about everything he does. And this passion doesn’t just extend to his hobbies – bouldering, travelling, hiking, and cars –, but also his work at CEDES in Landquart and his photonics degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Chur (FHGR).
While others might see their everyday lives as necessary drudgery, Klims’ eyes light up when he talks to us about his. Klims was born in Russia and grew up in Latvia, and came to Switzerland at the age of 13. He is now definitely a proud Graubünden resident. “This may sound corny, but for me CEDES has become like a family. I also get the opportunity to learn something new here every day, which is amazing.” Some of the older engineers are role models for him, and he really looks up to them.
Klims can’t imagine working anywhere else right now. Here, at one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sensor solutions, he completed his apprenticeship and started his career – and will probably be working as a photonics engineer before too long.
We ask him to explain exactly what a photonics engineer does: “We study how a photon reacts to an electron, and what you can do with it. We try to work out things like how we can use solar energy, or how we can bundle reflected light to take a picture with it.” His work involves a lot of mathematics, physics and geometry. It seems one man’s drudgery is another man’s dream.
Despite being just 23, Klims has an astonishing amount of discipline. Even before he started his electronics apprenticeship, he knew there was more to come. His goal was always to become an engineer. His drive seems to stem from a desire to never stop learning, and perhaps his past plays a role as well. Now, here in Graubünden, at CEDES, he can do anything he wants. That was a little more difficult earlier on in his life, in his mother’s native country, as part of the Russian-speaking minority in an underdeveloped country. His enthusiasm is plain to see when he talks about the project he is currently working on – the development of a light sensor that controls barriers, lifts and sliding doors. He’s still in his early twenties, and already a project manager.
He also recalls the early days as a student of photonics at the FHGR, and work that they did in the last semester, involving a plate that moves on two axes, with a marble balanced on it, all monitored by a camera. The image data was evaluated and converted into commands for the motors, so that the marble could be used to play golf, for instance.
Electronics have fascinated Klims for as long as he can recall. When he was little, he would take apart remote-controlled cars and all kinds of household appliances. The TV was unable to avoid becoming a victim of his curiosity: “I always wanted to know how a cathode-ray tube works. Now I know. But my parents had to buy a new TV.”
After graduating, Klims wants to convert a van into a custom camper van and take it on a round-the-world trip. He’s already found the van and planned his route. And after that? “I’d really like to come back here.” Last year, on a short trip to Asia, he realised that there is more to CEDES than just Landquart. “I knew that CEDES had a sales representative in Singapore. So, after I made my travel plans, I thought: ‘I’ll send him a WhatsApp. Maybe he’ll be pleased.’ Then he organised everything – food, a driver, a sightseeing tour – without ever having met me. That is typical of CEDES to me.”
But the company from Graubünden doesn’t just do business in Singapore. It has operated a production site in Changshu, China, for 11 years. Engineers from Landquart are often sent there for quality assurance. And of course Klims would be more than ready for the adventure.