The elevator industry is in the midst of several game-changing advancements that could revolutionize the way elevators operate in your buildings. Below we look at three noteworthy trends and how they are changing the industry.
Trend #1: More Elevators, Fewer Shafts
The TWIN elevator system, more common in Europe, is now a growing trend in the US. TWIN is an elevator system where two conventional elevators are put into the same shaft and act independently of each other. A device that monitors the distance between both elevators keeps them from colliding or bumping.
Launched by German multinational conglomerate with focus on industrial engineering thyssenkrupp, TWIN recently became fully operational in Atlanta, GA, at the 21-story Coda building. Another 40 TWINs are planned for 50 Hudson Yard in Manhattan, which will become the fourth largest commercial building in New York City when it’s completed in 2022.
1. More core space:
Mark Schroeder, director of new construction sales at thyssenkrupp, says the core of any building—including elevator shafts, restrooms and other mechanical systems—is critical. Combining two elevator cabs into one shaft effectively cuts out a shaft, creating more core space. (Photo courtesy of thyssenkrupp)
“Running two elevators in the same shaft logically leads to fewer elevator shafts taking up the space that owners could use for other things,” Schroeder explains.
2. Added movement capacity:
Traditional elevator systems are only designed to handle so much foot traffic at any given time. What are building owners supposed to do when their levels of traffic exceed their elevator’s capacity?
“If that number of people increases, then you typically need more elevators,” Schroeder says. “However, with the TWIN system, you can add more elevators without having to add more shafts. You can actually handle more people without increasing the number of elevator shafts themselves.”
In addition to increased space for building owners and faster travel for the general public, TWIN also has two options for those concerned with the energy consumption taken up by two elevators.
It’s logical for the average building owner to take a hard look at the potential energy consumption of a new elevator system. According to Schroeder, there are ways for the building owner to “slow down” the elevators if needed and reduce the energy use of the TWIN system. (Photo courtesy of thyssenkrupp)
“Because of the two elevators operating in the shaft, there are times when we can reduce the speed of the cars, which then requires smaller motors and so forth,” Schroeder says. “You gain efficiency in that form.”
4. Elevator sleep mode:
“There are certain times in the day where both of the elevators are not needed, due to a low demand at that particular time in the building itself,” Schroeder explains. “During those timeframes it’s possible to put certain elevators to sleep. They can be turned off when it is most efficient for the building.”
Trend #2: Analytics in Elevator Technology
The elevator industry, like many other industries, is experiencing a digital transformation. There are now ways for building owners and facilities managers to track advanced analytics from their elevators. One analytics provider, Schindler Elevator Corporation, prioritizes three benefits from analyzing elevator data:
1. Predictive maintenance:
Schindler uses elevator data to inform owners of when and where they might need maintenance. “Premier diagnostics and advanced analytics enable Schindler to predictively identify, analyze and resolve possible service issues before they occur,” says Nilesh Mhatre, CIO of Schindler.
[Schindler 3100 was named a Money-Saving Product in 2019]
2. Real-time insights:
For building owners interested in elevator analytics, Schindler works to make the process as easy as possible. The company created a digital portfolio designed to bring its analytics and other info into the hands of building owners wherever they are in real time.
The platform is called Schindler Ahead and is designed to supply building owners with “real-time insights from their phone or mobile devices to better operate and manage their building,” says Mhatre.
[Related: Top 10 Ways IoT is Changing Elevators]
These insights would go to waste without effective and easy-to-use communication technology. An app called Ahead ActionBoard, owned by Schindler, aims to connect “equipment, customers and passengers with Schindler Contact Centers and technicians,” according to Mhatre. (Photo courtesy of thyssenkrupp)
“Customizable reports on equipment status and performance and event-based notifications via app, text messages or emails keep customers, passengers and technicians informed at all times.”
Benefits of elevator analytics packages include:
- High reliability and increased uptime, which improve overall building performance
- Insights about component lifetime that allow for mid-term planning like repairs or modernization needs
- Complete digital documentation of equipment portfolio
- Makes the elevators ready to switch from analog to digital networks
- 24/7 digital emergency service
- Future-proof solution thanks to “over the air” updates
- Increased building value
Trend #3: Emergency Use Elevators
Occupants are usually cautioned to avoid elevators if a building must be evacuated during an emergency. However, in part due to the tragic events of 9/11, National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII) worked to help change building codes to allow elevators to be used in the case of an emergency evacuation.
This unlocks a stunning amount of potential safety improvements for buildings. Although most modern elevators would need to be updated to fit the current code for an emergency evacuation system, the use of elevators to help transport people out of buildings could help save lives and revolutionize ADA compliance in buildings that adopt the change.
Conforming to the New Codes
Occupant Evacuation Operation (OEO) and Occupant Evacuation Elevators (OEE) have both already been approved and are now in the approved list of model codes, ready for your local jurisdiction to adopt, according to Kevin Brinkman, vice president of codes and safety at NEII.
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“They do not go into effect until the state or local jurisdiction adopts them and sets an effective date,” Brinkman explains. “Since not all jurisdictions adopt the model codes in the same manner or timeframe, various jurisdictions are on different editions of the codes.”
According to Brinkman, the costs of upgrading existing elevators to the updated codes would vary case by case but would ultimately be affected by a few key factors including “travel distance, number of elevators, capacity and many others.”
For the building owners whose local and state regulatory bodies have adopted these newer codes, these changes could vastly affect emergency situations.
“We have been trained all our lives not to use the elevators in an emergency,” Brinkman says. “The benefit of OEO and OEE is to improve the process for getting occupants out of a building in an emergency. So, put plainly, the value for the general public can range from peace of mind during your day to day, to enabling a more efficient exit to safety in the event of an emergency.”
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