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GCC elevator manufacturers raise efficiency debate

Elevator manufacturers are contributing to the growth of the GCC’s architectural technology sector

Toshiba Elevator Middle East worked on the Marina Square project at Al Reem Island in the UAE.
Toshiba Elevator Middle East worked on the Marina Square project at Al Reem Island in the UAE.

Hosting rights to prestigious global events, such as Dubai Expo 2020 and 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, have spurred the GCC’s construction industries to focus their resources on the research and development of more sophisticated architectural technology. Elevator systems form a critical component of this segment, owing largely to their omnipresence and relevance in a region known for its skyscrapers.

Mohamed Iqbal, managing director of Toshiba Elevator Middle East, says the elevator sector in the region is expanding at a rate of 3% per annum, a situation that highlights the importance of strategyies underpinned by sound planning.

“Our attitude towards safety, quality, and customer satisfaction differentiates us from the competition,” he tells Construction Week.

The company’s project portfolio includes Abu Dhabi’s Marina Square at Al Reem Island, Saraya 1 and 2 towers, and the Addax Port Tower. Toshiba Elevator has also worked on the Damac Towers by Paramount, and Damac Heights in Dubai Marina.

Two key Toshiba innovations poised for launch in the region include a high-capacity double-deck elevator system for large commercial complexes, as well as the world’s fastest elevator – as certified by Guinness World Records – for high-rise buildings.

Iqbal says the record-breaking elevator system was initially conceptualised and developed by Toshiba for Taiwan’s Taipei 101. The tower’s elevators operate at top speeds of 1,010m per minute.

“Our research and development efforts for Taipei 101 resulted in several technology milestones for the elevator industry,” Iqbal continues. “For example, we developed technologies that prevent the ear-popping experience during high-speed travel.”

Elsewhere, systems are being developed to allow rope-free elevator access. In November 2015, German lift manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp, unveiled a scale model of the world’s first rope-free elevator concept.

The premiere of the 1:3 model came one year after the company announced its ‘Multi’ elevator concept. The prototype elevator uses linear motors instead of ropes, allowing for horizontal movement. This design enables Multi to operate as a “vertical metro system”, according to its creators.

TyssenKrupp claims that Multi’s configuration also increases transport capacities and efficiency, whilst reducing elevator footprints and peak loads for buildings’ power supplies.

The first scale model includes 10m shafts, and boasts linear motor technology inspired by the magnetic levitation train, Transrapid. Unlike conventional systems, Multi is able to incorporate multiple self-propelled elevator cabins per shaft, running in a loop. To compensate for the lack of cables, the technology employs a multi-level brake system and inductive power, which transfers from shaft to cabin.

The next step, according to ThyssenKrupp, is to develop a full-size version of the Multi system for testing purposes, Andreas Schierenbeck, the company’s CEO said.

“For Multi, after this phase, we will install, test, and certify the first system in our new test tower in Rottweil, Germany,” he continued. “The tower is set to be completed at the end of 2016.”

Meanwhile, Toshiba’s Iqbal believes elevator management is a key topic to focus on in the future. The company’s Global Maintenance Support System (GMSS) uses hand-held devices to monitor problems, provide immediate responses, and relay work instructions on site.

Data is stored in a local server for future reference, as well as made available for experts working from Toshiba’s headquarters in Japan.

“Maintenance constitutes a significant portion of the elevator market,” Iqbal says.

“In fact, 95% of Toshiba brand units installed by us [remain] under our maintenance,” he continues, adding that this trend highlights the elevator manufacturer’s market value.

“We don’t compete on price or compromise on quality, because ultimately, elevators involve human lives,” Toshiba Elevator Middle East’s chief concludes.

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