“We launched a ‘Touch to Touchless’ Campaign to Convert the Manual Doors into Automatic Doors”


In a conversation with George Philip from dormakaba, he  talks about the company’s journey, their product range, and the technologies and innovations they have brought to deal with the COVID situation. Below are the excerpts…

Please brief us on the history and objective behind the formation of your company.

Image 1: dormakaba’s offerings
Image 1: dormakaba’s offerings

dormakaba is the result of a great merger of two giants in the industry, in September 2015. Dorma and Kaba bring together what belongs together. There are parallels between our companies’ histories that combine and complement each other seamlessly. Innovation has always been a key component of how both Dorma and Kaba do the business. At dormakaba, we multiplied our shared value by pooling our resources and sharing our experiences. Together, we strive to be an innovation leader in our industry. We will continue to invest in innovation, always to create genuine added value for our customers through our smart access and security solutions.

Please highlight briefly about your products.

Our product clusters are grouped into Door Hardware – enduring, stylish door system solutions for more convenience, easy installation, and reliable functions from a single source; Entrance Systems – automated access solutions for userfriendly building access.

Electronic Access and Data – electronic access control and workforce management for efficient administration, security and data collection; Lodging Systems – hotel locking and access management for holiday residences for reliable, convenient and efficient protection; Safe Locks – security locks for the optimum protection of valuables, information or hazardous substances from unauthorised access; Interior Glass Systems – system solutions in glass for a wide variety of requirements in buildings moveable walls; Flexible and Efficient Partition Solutions – for customised use of space in hotels, conference centers, studios, and other facilities; Mechanical Key Systems – 0ptimum security thanks to flexible assignment of access rights for best control, lower costs and enhanced convenience. Service – customised service and maintenance for the sustained function of all our product clusters.

Image 2: dormakaba digital
Image 2: dormakaba digital

Could you please tell us about your manufacturing facility and capacity?

We have major production plants in Europe, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and North and South America, and Australia. While the capacity remains confidential, to give you a flavour of our leadership in the market, we crossed a major milestone – 100 millionth door closer, way back in 2010.

What are the advantages dormakaba has over its competitors?

dormakaba is well-known to be the one-stop-shop with a broad offering of products, solutions, and services for secure access to buildings. A single source for all your needs is critical while serving customers. Our focus on innovation, leadership and digital transformation with more than 2,000 patents and a dedicated digitisation strategy connecting customers, products, and our company for connecting services has helped us retain leadership in the market.

What role is automation playing in the door industry in the Middle East?

I would categorise automation with other interdependent trends like Information technology. We are in the big data era. Couple this with the fact that processing power and data storage are becoming almost free, networks and the cloud will provide global access and on-demand services, social media and cyber security will be the game changers. All this is related to our offerings – Are our products accessible through cloud solutions? Are they secure that you have peace of mind? Can processed data help you make decisions in your business?

In conjunction with Information technologies, new manufacturing, and automation technologies such as additive manufacturing (3D printing) and robotics have helped us to improve our productivity and reduce supply chain constraints. All this forms a part of what we call dormakaba digital – connected customers and partners, connected products, and connected companies.

What are your views on the future façade and fenestration technologies as well as materials?

The envelope of a building is the only protection against the external environment. Yet we want the façade to be ‘live’ either by being a screen or to ‘breathe’ by opening during favourable weather conditions and closing during harsh conditions. All this puts challenges for material and performance of every component, from the glass on the façade, to the revolving doors at the entrance.

KTV Atrium Flex
KTV Atrium Flex

We as a manufacturer must think innovatively to manage expectations. Products that can withstand wind loads (like our swing door operators, and revolving doors), managing a delicate balance of safety and security at entrances (like our access control and escape route systems), flexible entrances (like our HSW sliding folding systems), are all a part of the conversation we have, during design stage with architects, to the delivery stage when we install our products.

Name a few of your latest prestigious products and the innovations you made?

In 2018, global media company Thomson Reuters announced the Top 100 Global Technology Leaders – dormakaba was the only company from our industry in the list to be identified as the tech industry’s most operationally sound and financially successful organisations. This crown comes with responsibilities. Some of the stars that brought us to that elite group are:

Atrium Flex Revolving door (a breakthrough in design with technology): The world’s first revolving door driven with electromagnetic direct propulsion technology, clean, minimalist, all glass transparent design, eliminating floor pits, and an optional illuminated halo, to bring a smile to designers.

Skyfold: Creating flexible spaces with vertical folding acoustic operable walls that almost magically comes down from the ceiling that creates ‘wow’ moments for the customers.

Kaba Star Cross: Trust the Swiss when it comes to precision technology – A cross-shaped, movable element in the key provides increased protection against illegal copying, 3 D printing, and further enhances your security.

These products are just the tip of the iceberg in a basket of innovations that we keep bringing into the market every year.

Tell us about the major projects in which your products have been used.

Honestly, it would be difficult not to find our products in any building in the region. From the Burj Khalifa, the recently executed EXPO 2020 Pavilions, Dubai and Riyadh Metros, to all airports in the region is just a glimpse of how we have been a significant part of the landscape.

What is the current situation of your industry when the world is facing this COVID-19 challenge?

Our industry is no different from others, in terms of how it has affected the market in these challenging times. While net sales and profitability have declined in the last quarter, comprehensive crisis management was implemented. The focus went to the health and safety of employees, maintaining supply chains, and liquidity.

What practices should be adopted by the industry to overcome these challenges and deal with the after-effects of this pandemic?

Safe Entry Tower
Safe Entry Tower

A very relevant question. One major reason for the pandemic to spread is by touching people or surfaces. We launched a ‘Touch to Touchless’ campaign and supported many of the customers to convert their manual doors into automatic doors. This is evident from the fact that you do not have to touch any door when you enter Dubai Mall or Mirdiff City Centre. This is just an example, and we are converting many more.

We also launched “The Safe Entry Tower”, which can scan your temperature, check for a face mask, and automatically dispense sanitizer before entry in a building. This can also be coupled to automatic doors with the optional crowd counting options to limit social distancing and closing doors when the number reaches the prescribed limits. We also have products for the retail sector that offers flexible shop fronts to expand existing space to maintain social distancing.

What are the major opportunities for your business in the Middle East?

Shifting trends from mechanical to electro-mechanical, shifting to digital solutions, offering solutions than stand-alone products, and most importantly, taking ownership of the product for its lifetime with comprehensive service would be the criteria that will be game-changers in the industry. How each company will manage this will separate the men from the boys.

What are your goals and plans for the next 4-5 years?

Working with customers and influencers like architects, designers, and facility management companies to demonstrate how technologies can make their buildings more smart and secure, has been our objective that remains unchanged. What we are striving for is to be agile, during these pandemic times. Each employee is encouraged to act as an entrepreneur, giving one of our corporate values’ Customer First’ even more life.

Anything else you would like to add?

A nice adage from a recent article I read – Times are changing – ‘build to last’ is changing to ‘build to adapt’. Last but not the least, Stay Safe.

Retrofit of Ibis Hotel Revolving Door with the Flex Direct Drive

When a product has performed well throughout its lifetime, what would you expect, from the sustainability point of view? The components used must be recyclable, reusable, and not contributing to an increase in the carbon footprint. What if you dream of the impossible – completely giving new life to the product, saving of capital expenditure, and introduce cutting edge modern technology? Too good to be true, right?


Ibis Hotel in World Trade Centre was a part of the new look of the Dubai Convention Centre, which along with new concourse between Halls 1 and 2, Convention Tower, and Novotel Hotel, welcomed 15,000 delegates to the first-ever IMF/World Bank meeting in 2003. Hundreds and thousands have since then passed through the KTV 4 revolving door of Ibis Hotel. Powered by the old horse, the MS7 drive, it was one of the well-tested drive systems of its generation. In discussions with our dormakaba service team, for extending the life of the revolving door, dormakaba introduced the KT FLEX Direct Retrofit Kit. Unlike replacement of motors, gearboxes and other conventional ways to increase the life of the revolving door, the customer was impressed with the proposed new electromagnetic direct drive.

This gearless power transmission is based on magnetic technology – proven tens of thousands of times. Low wear, low noise direct drive, provides soft movement and protects the equipment’s mechanical components. Additionally, with an extremely narrow height, it can be accommodated in a 100 mm canopy, and – of a cause – all other conventional canopies which average 300 mm in height. dormakaba’s service team successfully injected new life into the existing 17-year-old revolving door, by retrofitting this drive into the door.

Putting sustainability as the priority, this cutting edge new technology was first deployed for retrofits and standard canopy revolving doors. Later, using its inherent advantage as a compact drive (we informally call it the ‘Pizza‘ due to its unbelievably small size), we introduced it as the new KTV ATRIUM FLEX, which is a designer’s pride, with an elegant glass canopy and the compact drive on top. With a tiny overall height of just 5 cm, this drive unit is specifically designed for overhead mounting, offering for the first time the twin benefits of effortless ceiling installation and glass canopy elegance in revolving doors. The cute light ring around the drive, adds a touch of class to the product.

Its elegance and design secured the “If Design Award” in 2016.

George Philip

Deputy Vice President

George Philip is the DVP for Business Development, Product Management, Competency Hub, and Marcom, for dormakaba MENA. He is a qualified mechanical engineer with MBA. He has also completed Advanced Management Program (AMP) from Harvard Business School, and Artificial Intelligence Program from MIT. He truly believes that if you enjoy work, then work becomes play.

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