In 1857 - for the first time - a safety elevator began providing safe, efficient vertical transportation in a 5-floor building. Business-oriented architecture and the nascent skylines of America’s cities were about to undergo profound change. Tall buildings, precursors to the skyscrapers that would follow, were suddenly practical.
Today, elevators are common fixtures in virtually every professional building of three or more floors. Passengers press the button and never consider the elevator’s functional importance beyond dependably transporting them and their packages a few tens of feet up or down from where they were just moments earlier. Even as building managers or owners, you probably have rarely considered that your building’s elevator system has a wider impact on the most important aspects of building operation than does any other single building system.
Broadly, you’re concerned with your building’s economic viability. This is the umbrella beneath which all other considerations shelter. Considerations like:
- Tenant satisfaction.
Safety encompasses adherence to local and national physical codes, access control, fire and emergency medical response, and more. The modern elevator system is a mainstay of your response in each of these instances. Local and national codes set the minimum standards that must be met to maintain physical safety, respond to special-needs populations, and establish predictable behavior across equipment manufacturers. Elevators enforce access control by requiring manual code entry, magnetic card authorization, time-of-day permissions, or other means of controlling floor access. Elevator cabling may be preconfigured with coaxial cabling for video monitoring in addition to standard and optional alarms. Centrally located elevator monitoring stations not only allow elevator traffic to be monitored, but offer emergency control of elevator cars as well. Simplex or group control elevator installations provide programmable response for fire and medical operation, behaving as required by code and offering the safest alternative control and performance when required.
Efficiency speaks to energy conservation, reduced maintenance needs, and ease of repair. Modern elevators share in the energy-consumption improvements that have made all current-design electronics much less costly to operate. Forward-thinking manufacturers have designed remotely accessible, intelligent elevator controls that can be monitored, diagnosed, controlled, and even adjusted remotely through technologies like TCP/IP - the technology that underlies the Internet. Systems like this can actually initiate contact with local or remote stations and communicate unusual conditions.
Tenant satisfaction ultimately delivers the dollars that keep a building viable. An efficient, dependable elevator system contributes directly to the tenant and owner/manager bottom-line calculation. Modern elevator systems can actually learn the traffic patterns within a building, intelligently coordinating car position, assigning cars to particular building sectors - altering car behavior depending upon current traffic conditions, by time of day or day of week, and even adapting automatically to religious or civil holiday needs.
In short, the elevator system can be a major player in contributing to the safety, efficiency, tenant satisfaction level, and continuing economic viability of your building.
Mohamed Ezzeddine is vice president of research and development at Rancho Cordova, CA-based Motion Control Engineering Inc. (www.mceinc.com).