In a new direction
Maintenance and new installations will contribute to the growth of overall market. BY TEAM MT
Elevators are getting smarter and faster. Importantly, they are getting eco-friendly. Just as elevators and escalators across residential and commercial applications are designed for their specific use, those installed in various places like malls, hotels and airports are designed and adapted for use in public spaces considering the heavy traffic peaks and other traffic patterns throughout the day. Both escalators and elevators, whether for moving people or freight, are designed to be robust and durable for these special requirements.
The global elevator and escalator market comprises three main segments: New equipment, modernisation and maintenance. Globally, a sizeable number of people are migrating from rural areas to urban areas and with rapid urbanisation in emerging nations, the demand for new equipment will surge in the years to come. In mature markets like US and Europe, cities and buildings are growing older and hence needs to be upgraded or modernised. Modernisation is in itself a complex process but ensures safety and accessibility. For the smooth movement of people inside and between the buildings, the equipment is to be maintained on a regular basis. There lies a huge growth opportunity in the maintenance segment.
Looking ahead, the government’s plan to develop 200 low-cost airports in tier-II and tier-III towns across India will provide a further impetus to the demand for elevators, escalator, and moving walk in coming years.
While there are plenty of innovations happening in elevators, energy efficiency is what elevator manufacturers are focusing on for mid- and high-rise buildings. These traction elevators have improved controls, hardware, and other systems that not only use less energy, but are much more compact, efficient, and even generate electricity that a facility can use.
Sameep Desai, CEO of Omega Elevators, says, “We understand the need for energy conservation as a global requirement and have taken several steps. We use gearless machines instead of formerly used geared machines which conserve up to 40% energy as compared to geared machines. In line with the Prime Minister’s vision of Make in India, we have been manufacturing gearless machines since 2007 when most of other lift manufacturers import from China.”
The most energy efficient elevators now have: Software- and microprocessor-based controls instead of electromechanical relays; in-cab sensors and software that automatically enter an idle or sleep mode, turning off lights, ventilation, music, and video screens when unoccupied; destination dispatch control software that batches elevator stop requests, making fewer stops and minimising wait time, reducing the number of elevators required; and personalised elevator calls used with destination dispatch controls that eliminate the need for in-cab controls.
Mid- and high-rise buildings typically have geared or gearless traction elevators capable of high or variable speed operation. One energy-saving change manufacturers have recently begun to offer is double-deck elevators. They are two cabs tall, one stopping at even-numbered floors and one serving odd. They can reduce a building’s overall energy usage by reducing the number of stops and even the total number of elevators required when used with destination dispatch controls.
Sebi Joseph, MD, Otis India, had said in an interview earlier, “At Otis, we are constantly looking at developing new innovative technology that will meet our customers’ requirements. Our flagship product, the Gen2 range of elevators, is geared towards efficiency whilst providing environmentally responsible features and benefits. 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. When combined, these components increase the life, efficiency, safety and reliability of the elevator. Otis helps achieve substantial energy saving and facilitates environment friendliness.”
Regenerative drives are another remarkable advancement in energy-efficient elevator technology. They recycle energy rather than wasting it as heat. The permanent magnet motors in Otis’ ReGen drives are capable of bidirectional energy flow. When power flows into the motor, it creates a lifting torque on the shaft and elevator sheave, lifting the carriage. When the carriage travels down, the motor acts as a generator, transforming mechanical power into electrical power and pumping current back into the facility’s electrical grid to use elsewhere. The most energy efficient types of elevators are machine-roomless (MRL) traction elevators. Manufacturers redesigned the motors and all of the other equipment normally housed in a machine room above conventional elevators to fit into the hoistway. These space-saving improvements eliminate the need to build and supply energy to a machine room and consume significantly less energy than the larger versions previously used. They also generate less heat.
Desai of Omega Elevators says that roller guide shoes reduce the energy consumption in an elevator by another 5-6% and make it greener by total elimination of guide lubrications.
In terms of operations, most elevators come with energy efficient LED lighting as standard. Efficient lighting saving up to 50% on energy consumption during operation and up to 100% in stand-by mode, thanks to automatic shut-off of the car lighting when the lift is in stand-by. This also contributes to a reduction in maintenance costs of approximately 10%. Manufacturers are now giving more attention to improving energy usage in the other systems such as cab lighting, fans, doors, brakes, and elevator controls. They use efficient LED lights in cab panels, overhead, and in floor indicators. They include door drive motors that that can enter a standby mode or efficiently recover from removal of power when not in use. These motors also support variable door-open and -close times, and their energy use is factored into the overall control strategy.
ThyssenKrupp Elevator’s Innovation Centre has been exploring solutions to ease people mobility over distances. ThyssenKrupp ACCEL is one such transportation system offering high capacities and speeds over short distances, with low implementation costs. This facilitates airport authorities to diversify passenger flow. It’s in technological leaps like these where airports can find answers to challenges in easing passenger transport. ACCEL benefits airport operators looking to improve transit times between gates or between distant parking bays and airport terminals. With no waiting times or barrier gates, passengers need only 140 seconds to cover a distance of 270 meters, instead of the earlier 415 seconds, resulting in an impressive time saving of 66%. For airport operators, it eliminates the need and high costs associated with providing buses, automated people movers, or sky-trains for distances of up to 1.5km.
India does not have a national regulatory body that defines safety standards for elevator manufacturers. While there are standards issued by the Bureau of India Standards, these serve as guidelines and are only mandatory in the states of Haryana and Tamil Nadu. In addition, 10 states have enacted their own Lift Act and Rules, but these are mandatory in those states only. Industry bodies like the Bureau of Indian Standards are trying to change this by driving mandatory safety standards for the elevator and escalator industry and seeking cooperation from the states.
The government has built plenty of foot-over-bridges (FOB) to reduce the traffic congestions on platforms and on roads, road junctions etc. But what percentage of pedestrians uses them? Because there is no proper means to reach FOB except for staircase and climbing them is not preferred. There are no elevators or escalators provided. If one can provide FOBs with escalators and elevators, the pedestrian traffic and criss-cross movement of pedestrians on road will be greatly reduced thus smoothening vehicular traffic.
In terms of other technologies from Otis is the Compass Destination Management System. Using Otis’ patented technology, the system constantly evaluates real-time passenger traffic to improve flow and travel time, in busy mid- and high-rise buildings. Instead of using standard hall call buttons, passengers register their specific floor in the lobby before they enter the elevator. The system assigns passengers traveling to nearby floors, to the same car. This minimises the number of stops per trip and significantly reduces car crowding, as well as passenger wait and travel times. The optional Compass seamless entry is designed to integrate building security and elevator-dispatching systems, through various access devices.
The Web-based EMS Panorama system enables building staff to monitor, control, report on, and manage a full range of functions from any computer, with an Internet connection. It offers real-time data that shows building managers the full picture, enabling them to respond quickly to passengers’ needs and make informed decisions about equipment operations with great certainty.