The way upward – Elevators/Escalators special
BY JAYASHREE MENDES
As buildings continue to grow taller and bigger, the challenge of moving large number of people in a short time, along with the need to reduce energy consumption is driving elevator manufacturers towards innovation. High-speed applications are the most advanced in the elevators and escalators industry. Typically installed at places with high traffic growth, elevators and escalators must guarantee top performances, together with maximum safety and comfort.
Elevators and escalators aren’t always just about moving people; sometimes, they can be a distinctive, iconic feature of the building itself. They can make the most of, for example, an open hotel foyer or a shopping centre or atrium.
According to V. Gurumoorthy, vicepresident, sales & marketing, Thyssen-Krupp Elevator (India) Pvt. Ltd, “In India, elevators are supplied according to prescribed Indian Standard (IS) codes while escalators are supplied according to EN81 code as an Indian standard is not yet available. Codes have been recommended for elevator manufacturers and they are bound to maintain the minimum safety requirement.”
Buildings consume about 40% of the world’s energy, and elevators account for two to 10% of a building’s energy consumption. Elevator manufacturers are working hard to bring these numbers down.
Otis has a technology called ReGen drives that reduce energy usage by capturing the energy normally dissipated as heat during braking. ReGen drives feed this energy back into the building’s internal electrical grid for use by other building systems, such as adjacent elevators and lighting. Such technology is ideal for low- and mid-rise residential and commercial buildings. Sebi Joseph, managing director, Otis India, says, “At Otis, we are constantly looking at developing 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.”
In recent years, there has been much focus on reducing the amount of energy used by elevators and escalators when they are not in use. Standby solutions that power down equipment when it is not in use can bring substantial savings. For example, the energy-efficient operation of escalators can cut energy consumption by up to 50%. Energy-saving standby solutions are particularly important for elevators in low-rise buildings.
Antony Parokaran, CEO, Schindler India, says, "The energy required to operate an elevator can account for up to 80% of its environmental impact over its entire lifecycle. To improve energy efficiency, priority is today assigned to the use of materials that have a lower environmental impact and can be disposed of in an ecologically sound manner.
The development of much lighter components has resulted in further energy savings. Schindler’s hall call destination systems optimise travel within buildings and thus lead to a reduction in energy consumption per passenger.
The third generation – the revolutionary PORT transit management system – now interconnects the entire building and provides architects with new possibilities in terms of traffic management and security planning."
In addition, modern elevator drives with energy recovery systems feed unused energy back into the building’s electricity network. This results in a reduction in waste heat, thus also significantly reducing elevator cooling requirements.
Schindler has combined this efficient solution with intelligent controls which, for example, place elevators on standby mode and turn off the lights and ventilators when they are not in use.
The energy efficiency of escalators is also continuously being improved. With Schindler’s ECOLINE power management, clients can define whether the escalator should run at full speed during peak times and automatically slow down or even stop when there are no passengers. Additional innovations relating to escalator drives and the switch to LED for all escalator lighting have enabled total energy consumption to be reduced by an impressive 36%.
The elevator market is primarily divided into five segments: residential, offices, retail, hotels and hospitals.
“The residential segment is the largest, which was close to 70% of the overall market in 2013,” says a spokesperson at Frost & Sullivan. For the ongoing year, he estimates an increase in the residential segment to between 80-85%, with a focus on affordable housing. He points out that use of elevators has become mandatory for any multi-storey building having three or more floors. This obviously has been helping the industry.
Technology in elevators and escalators are continually developing and getting in to vertical journey from vertical transportation. Generally technology and material are developed keeping in mind following factors: Visuals, sound, vibrations, human interface and sense of safety. For instance, in terms of technology, elevators have travelled from single speed elevator to variable voltage, variable-frequency (VVVF).
More so, now elevators come with ultramodern multimedia LCD screen inside the cabin.
There is also a shift to green energy efficiency by adopting VVVF drive system, gearless machine, regenerative drive and LED lights in cabin, etc. But regenerative drive has not been accepted in India.
The escalators market has been primarily driven by the development in organised retail (mall), airports and metro railway. Although the retail industry has slowed down last couple of years, growth in the aviation industry and metro rail projects has given the escalators market a good fillip. Otis has had a wide presence in India’s retail segment and acknowledges the slowdown in mall developments this year. However, according to a Frost & Sullivan report, demand for escalators will go up once the projects increase.
Meanwhile, in most developed countries, double deck elevators are popular, though they have yet to catch on in India. In India, ThyssenKrupp Elevator (India) has an advanced solution, twin elevator technology, viz. two elevators in one shaft moving independently.
Double deck is mainly used to transfer mass populations vertically. Also these types of elevators need local authority approval before installation.
Gurumoorthy says that an advantage of a double-deck elevator is its suitability to move large passenger population travelling to the same destination floor, such as between two levels of a highrise building, especially as a shuttle lift
between entrance level and sky-lobby transfer floor (for upper zones of the building) with no intermediate stops in between.
Simultaneously, he also points out some disadvantages:
*Not suitable for inter-floor traffic because fixed distance between upper and lower deck of the lift car means all the floor-to-floor heights need to be the same in the upper floors served by the double-deck lift.
*Not good for inter-floor traffic as it gives passengers the sensation of “false stops” when the lifts stops to serve one deck with the doors remaining closed in the other deck.
*Due to heavy double-deck lift car, it requires bigger hoisting machines, more ropes and bigger electrical switches in the machine room. This also means greater power consumption.
*All the above disadvantages of double-deck can be solved by TWIN.
Another exciting product from the Otis stable 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 technology has also been adapted to respond to growing security concerns across markets. The optional compass seamless entry is specifically designed to integrate building security and elevator-dispatching systems, through various access devices.
Urbanisation is a key driver that will boost the need for living space and infrastructure. This also translates into a positive future for the elevator and escalator industry in India. Going by reports brought out by various consultancy companies, as of 2014, India is the second largest market in the world today, with a potential of around 47,000 units. By 2017, India is estimated to have installed around 70,000 units. This shows the tremendous potential with yearly growth rate in double digits.
A McKinsey report on India’s urbanisation estimated that Indian cities are home to 340 million people or 30% of the country’s population. By 2030, it is expected that cities will house 590 million people or 40% of the population.
Due to urbanisation, there will be an increase in the number of infrastructure, commercial and residential projects. As the citizens in tier 2 and 3 cities shift to apartment-based dwellings, there is a general anticipation for high-quality products at affordable price points.
At the same time the higher end of the market will expand rapidly as buildings become taller and residences are made more luxurious. The products here will be faster speed customised to the requirements of the Indian customer.
There will also be a consolidation of industry players and technology will be the driving factor that will separate the leaders from the others.