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The elevator business is becoming smarter

Smart elevators are not only futuristic in operation but are energy efficient and easier to maintain, so why are we not seeing more of them in the region? Nikhil Pereira asks

COMMENT, Facilities Management

The invention of the elevator in 1853 is possibly one of the great feats in mechanised travel. But it’s only in recent times that elevator manufacturers have pushed the boundaries of what is considered “achievable” from an elevator.

Thyssenkrupp’s rope-less elevators will change the capabilities of an elevator as we know it and the fact that the same elevator cabs can travel horizontally, without inconveniencing passengers, is nothing short of futuristic. 

Interest surrounding smart elevators, travellators and escalator systems is on the rise, especially in the Gulf, where new project contracts are signed almost on a daily basis. Which makes me wonder why only a few high-rise buildings currently have a smart elevator system. 

I remember using a smart elevator for the first time. I was visiting a 70-storey commercial tower and went to hit ‘51’ as soon as I entered the elevator cab. To my amazement, however, I found no controls inside the cab: In destination despatching technology — which is used in smart elevators — passengers key in the floor on a touchscreen interface before entering the elevator. Interestingly, the solution can be retrofitted on to existing elevators. The cost can be on the higher side, but the business case is compelling. 

Smart elevators also aid in service and maintenance thanks to sophisticated computer-aided facility management (CAFM) sensors, aiding in preventive maintenance rather than trouble shooting.

Maintenance of lifts and escalators  is generally carried out at a point in the day when footfall or traffic is considered lowest. For commercial towers, it’s usually the weekend and the principle is inverted for shopping complexes and malls.

Clients have the choice to opt for manufacturers service and maintenance packages or engage their facilities management (FM) company to take care of the asset. Either way, it’s pivotal for regular ‘planned preventive maintenance’ (PPM) to be carried out. Ultimately, it’s a matter of the safety and security of the passengers that use a steel capsule to travel vertically at speeds of up to 36kmph.

So, don’t grimace the next time you are marginally inconvenienced and have to take the stairs. 

Similarly, technicians need not feel underappreciated — the task you are performing is life saving.

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Construction Week - Issue 740
May 02, 2019