The elevator industry is going through some exciting innovations, including fitting more elevators into fewer shafts that operate independently from each other. Janelle Penny talks about advancements like these and more trends we’re seeing. Listen now >>
Read the article that inspired this FM Friday podcast: 3 Rising Trends to Watch in Elevator Technology
Rather read or print out the transcript? Here you go:
Hello, everyone. This is Janelle Penny, editor-in-chief of Buildings Media. And I’m here with another FM Friday broadcast.
This week I wanted to spotlight some new coverage that we have on elevator trends. The elevator industry, if you are not aware, is really going through a lot of exciting innovations and advancements right now that are really changing the way that elevators operate, like on a fundamental level.
We spotlighted some really noteworthy trends recently and took a look at how they’re changing the industry.
The first one, surprisingly enough, is fitting more elevators into fewer shafts. And I admit the first time that I heard this, I couldn’t really conceive of what would happen. But this elevator system called the TWIN, which is by thyssenkrupp, actually puts two conventional elevators, so the ones we’re all used to, into the same shaft and they operate completely independently from each other. And it has some sort of device in it that monitors the distance between the two cabs and keeps them from bumping into each other.
It’s been in Europe for a little while, but it recently was installed in this 21-story building in Atlanta and another, I believe it’s 40 of them, are going into 50 Hudson Yard in Manhattan. So, we’ll finally get to take a look at this here in North America and see how it works in person.
This coverage of it that we have on Buildings.com, which was put together by our former intern Ryan, took a look at how they help maximize your facility’s efficiency specifically. So, it’s not just about the novelty of having two cabs in one shaft. It’s also just an interesting efficiency improvement.
Of course, not having that extra shaft there gives you more space that you can rent out if you’re a tenanted building—or just more spaces to put workspaces in if you are owner-occupied.
You can move more people because you have a second cab. You can handle more people without increasing the number of shafts, which is pretty handy.
Apparently, the motor is smaller because it has those two cabs in the shaft so that you can sometimes reduce the speed of the cars, which then doesn’t require as big of a motor, so you get some space back and some efficiency in that way.
TWIN also has this sleep mode, so you can turn it off when it’s most efficient for you to do so, let’s say overnight or just during the parts of the day when there’s a low demand in one part of the building.
So, that’s really interesting, and I’m really hoping I can make it down to Atlanta soon to check this thing out because we’ve got this diagram on our website, but I’m dying to see it in person.
That’s one trend. Another one that Ryan looked at was analytics and elevator technology. This one I’m a little more familiar with, but there are so many capabilities out there with IoT devices and other analytics providers that we can’t even conceive of right now.
One of the most useful things I think is being able to use all that data coming out of your elevator for predictive maintenance.
So, not just doing it on a schedule, but looking at which elevator or which shaft you might need to do maintenance in a little early vs. which ones you can wait a little longer on because they’re not used as often.
Really about catching those issues before they become bigger issues, just like you do in the rest of your building. Well, now we can do it in elevators, which is great.
Being able to get insights in real time is very handy. You can see if you’ve maybe got a breakdown coming up or you’ve got crazy demand on one elevator and not so much on another.
Being able to keep an eye on this stuff from your phone or a tablet is a really handy way to be able to manage your building. You don’t have to sit in your office all day looking at data streams coming in.
And just the communication aspect is a really great way that people are using some of these new technologies.
I often lose cellular reception when I’m in an elevator and you do, too, I’m sure. But now the elevator itself can communicate much more easily and it can speak to technicians or manufacturer helplines.
This particular one is by Schindler and creates these customizable reports so that technicians know what’s going on with your elevator before they even get there.
Really, that stuff is about, just like the rest of your facility, it’s about reliability, uptime, helping you plan for repairs or God forbid a replacement and facilitating emergency services, just like you use on the rest of your building. It’s great to see that these things are being made available in elevators now.
The last trend I wanted to spotlight is one that I’m really interested in, the development of building codes and how they’re having to change to account for all these new innovations that manufacturers are coming up with.
And this one is specifically about using an elevator in an emergency. And I’m sure we’ve all seen that sign next to the elevator that says, “In case of fire, use the stairs.”
Apparently, National Elevator Industry Inc. has been really pushing to change building codes to let people use elevators during an emergency evacuation. The reason why was actually due in part to 9/11—people trying to evacuate these huge towers and you can’t possibly get down all those stairs in time.
If they had been able to use an emergency use elevator, maybe that was programmed to get them down to the ground floor faster or not stop on every single floor, maybe more lives could have been saved.
The fact that building codes are now going to be embracing emergency evacuation systems for elevators, I think they’re specifically called Occupant Evacuation Operation as a setting and occupant evacuation elevators as a separate elevator product.
I’m really looking forward to having that in the code and seeing how that’s going to save lives by getting people out of buildings faster.
And also, it will be, I think, welcomed by people with disabilities who can’t use the stairs. Or they can, but it takes a long time. That’s not what you want in an emergency, of course.
Both of those things, the operation mode and the Occupant Evacuation Elevators have already been approved and they’re actually in the approved list of model codes.
Your local jurisdiction may be adopting those coming up soon. Of course, as we all know with codes, they don’t go into effect until your local area adopts them and then decides when they’re going to become effective.
But it may be worth pushing your local jurisdiction if this is something that you’re interested in adopting, pushing them to adopt that new model code. Because even though the cost of upgrading existing elevators to these new codes may be expensive, it may really be worth it, especially if you have a big high-rise or some other building where you’re really going to benefit from being able to use those elevators during an emergency.
So, that’s all for this week. I’m really looking forward to sharing more stories with you and chatting with you again.
If there’s a topic you’d like us to cover, tweet us @BuildingsMedia, or reach out to us through any of our other channels. We’re on Facebook and LinkedIn, too.
This is Janelle Penny, I’m the editor-in-chief for Buildings Media and I am signing off.
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