Many technological advancements have changed the way we design in the past 150 years, but perhaps none has had a greater impact than the invention of the passenger elevator. This segment has been one of the critical aspects in rendering the distinctive skyline marked with high rises and towers across many modern cities today. With the dearth of ground space, buildings are inevitably scaling the skies to unimaginable heights. As a direct consequence, the escalator and elevator industry has taken on a whole new meaning. As the buildings are now responding to energy efficiency standards and requirements, the elevator industry too is gearing up to step up a notch in the ‘green’ way.
Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India, rightly puts in the fact that, "As urbanisation drives the increased need for infrastructure and buildings, the elevator industry plays an important role in supporting that growth. It will fuel the need for smart and efficient technologies to support urban growth." With this commitment to energy efficient technology to fulfill, elevator industries are innovating and rethinking their technological inputs that increase the life, efficiency, safety as well as reliability of the elevators and escalators.
The past few years have seen many new elevator innovations. While existing elevator cables maxed out at approximately 500 meters in length before becoming unsupportable, UltraRope, a cable technology by Finnish elevator manufacturer KONE, allows elevators to travel up to a kilometer without stopping, double the current distance. The company also KONE offers a range of elevators which includes KONE Monospace, elevator with no machine room and Minispace which require small machine room that consume about 50% percent less energy over conventional geared technology. “At KONE, an IT based tool enables study of the traffic calculation and suggest loads, speeds, capacities etc. better. We have been able to cater to the specific requirements required for similar infrastructure projects. Due to heavy usage of the elevators and escalators, it is critical that the equipment is always functioning. Hence maintenance forms a key part of such projects and we have been able to provide life cycle solutions, the way we combine our products and services to create more value and benefits to the end user,” says Amit Gossain, MD, KONE India. The company has also developed the world’s flattest autowalk technology, which makes designing locations for and installing autowalks considerably easier. The KONE InnoTrack™autowalk is so flat that, unlike conventional solutions, it can be installed entirely on the floor level.
To increase elevator capacity, German company ThyssenKrupp has developed their TWIN technology, which stacks two elevators within the same shaft (with an extra stop below the lowest level and above the highest floors, so one cabin can park at this spot to give access to the desired floor). The company is also currently working on MULTI, an elevator system that eliminates the need for a cable, allowing elevators to travel independently, both vertically and horizontally through shaft loops within a building. In addition to this, to address the market with compact floor heights, the company also recently launched the H300 elevators with no pit and headroom space requirements. “Another popular smart elevator feature is destination selection control (DSC), for which passengers enter their destination floor on input terminals in the lift lobby. Each passenger is then assigned to a specific lift which would take him or her to the respective destination floor in the shortest time with a minimal number of intermediate stops. Compared to conventional elevator control systems, DSC increases passenger handling capacity by up to 30%, minimizes passengers' travel times to their destination and reduces crowding in lift lobbies. DSC also allows for much more flexibility in elevator grouping, lift core layouts and overall building design," adds Bharat Vishnani, ThyssenKrupp India.
Otis’ flagship technology, the Gen2™, caters well to the need for faster vertical transportation that is sustainable and smart. Some of the key components of the Gen2 range are the coated steel belt, the ReGen™ drive, the permanent magnet machine and the Otis’ PULSE™ system all of which, when combined, increase the life, efficiency, safety and reliability of the elevator. The elevator’s unique, patented flat-belt drive technology significantly reduces vibration, providing passengers and tenants a remarkably smooth, quiet ride and improved overall comfort compared to conventional systems.
Of all the building categories in the commercial sector, hospital require the most efficient transport system, in terms of speed, capacity, stability of the carrier, promptness, etc. Addressing these specific issues, FUJI Sophus Elevators recently installed two units of Fuji MIYU-Hy series machine room elevators that have a carrying capacity of 12 passengers (800 Kgs), at a speed of 1.5 meters per sec at the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai. “All the elevators are backed with Fuji’s latest micro-processor 64-bit technology which completely optimises the elevator availability to the users – providing shortest waiting time, faster travel time, eradication of queuing during peak hours while conserving energy,” added K. S. Bansal, director, Fuji Sophus Elevators.
Quite similar to elevators, escalator requirements too have significantly increased particularly in the retail industry, hospitals, hotels and offices where a large number of people flow needs to be managed. They need to cater to various unique needs as per the client requirement ranging from light applications to heavy-duty applications. With the positive growth in infrastructure, even public transit industries are turning towards escalators to provide better facilities.
Catering to this increasing demand, the TX Series escalator by Hitachi is an escalator model that follows the same concept for the machine room-less elevator. It adopts a functional design adapts to with the unconscious actions of users, in the pursuit of their ease and comfort. Also, by shortening the span dimensions, the TX Series has made it possible to install escalators in more confined spaces where installation presents difficulties with conventional product designs.
Although the retail industry has slowed down recently, the high people flow requirement of transit industries is revolutionising the escalator industry steadily. With a rapid increase in high-end residential, retail and commercial industry, their requirements of more efficient and faster elevators and escalators will rise with customization being the key factor.