Today’s elevators provide more than a convenient means to reach the floors of a building. They play a key role in many aspects of building space enjoyment from providing an interesting architectural element, to creating an exciting ride in towering buildings around the world. As technology evolves so too does elevator experiences. Here I explore the top rising trends in elevator technology to keep an eye on.
The Smart Elevator Era
Everything is smart today, including home elevators. However, smart does not just include technology when it comes to elevators. Modern elevators need to meet a number of demands including:
- Time-efficiency especially in high demand times to reduce wait times
- Low-maintenance or even self-maintenance
- Cost efficiency
- Advanced access control
- Improved appearance
These elevator advancements improve rider experience while empowering building managers to reduce operational and maintenance costs. Landlords offer a more enjoyable, dependable ride so they experience fewer complaints and also improve optics to attract higher quality tenants.
This is the expected element of smart technology. Sensors and cloud connectivity allow building managers to make repairs before the damage becomes dangerous and costly. Smart technology offers alarms and collects data that building managers can use to take a more proactive approach to maintenance. Elevator operation is not hampered, ensuring tenants remain safe.
Connectivity also provides a more pleasurable ride allowing people to enjoy various modes of entertainment from video feeds to music. It also makes emergency calls easier should there still be breakdowns. Trapped riders are also found more quickly. The combination of service and diagnostics keeps building managers informed in real-time and that same information is automatically shared with technicians.
Improvements to Freight Elevators
Smart technology is also helping across all sectors. Commercial lifts not designed for passenger use are seeing many positive effects of smart technology including:
- Better capacity weight control
- Improved efficiency to regulate the number of trips and door cycles
- Reducing wait times that interfere with productivity
- Data collection and analysis to help find trends to improve productivity and efficiency
Smart elevators allow companies to run more energy efficient as well with key insights into the amount of electricity used for day to day operation.
Cable-less elevators can move both horizontally and vertically using linear motor technology. Not only are they more flexible in their movement, but they also reduce time and energy consumption. As demands for space in urban areas grows, buildings must be designed to adapt to the space available. This leads to taller, wider buildings. Also, trends in architecture are becoming more complex, which means traditional elevators can’t keep up with modern design. Elevator shafts must be more adaptable, and the cable-less elevator is the way to go.
Double Decks and TWINS
Technological advancements have made way for longer, double-deck lifts. In Korea, Otis installed a run over 450 meters tall using a single hoistway that can carry up to 54 passengers in one minute. Double decks also manage rush hour traffic to reduce wait times and the number of stops with predictive technology that sends the elevator where it is needed.
A trend emerging in European TWIN elevator systems help builders and architects use space more wisely. These systems run two cabs in a single shaft to maximize the number of rides. They also reduce the amount of space required to run multiple elevators in multiple shafts. The cabs operate safely as they depend on monitoring systems to prevent collision. During slow times, one of the cabs can be placed in sleep mode to reduce energy consumption.
Fire Safe Evacuation
Following the tragic loss of life from 9-11, elevators that can be used for evacuation have become more important. To help increase the chances of more survivors in high-rise fires and other emergencies, the National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII) introduced new building codes making it safe to use elevators as a route of escape.
As well, elevator pioneer Otis has also introduced seismic sensors to detect issues such as earthquakes or high winds experienced in today’s extreme high rises. Elevators in high-risk buildings or environments prone to earthquakes provide escape routes to bring passengers to safety.
COVID Inspired Technology
Last but not least, the most recent technology responds to the demands of a world with COVID-19. Touchless access in public spaces helps reduce the spread of viruses like the coronavirus. Fujitec developed contactless panels using infrared sensor technology so passengers can select their floors or operate elevators with a wave of their hand. To assist in social distancing, congestion indicators and anti-bacterial buttons reduce the risk of spreading germs. Voice sensors might also become more prominent allowing people to say their destination instead of having to touch a button.
Technology continues to contribute innovations that improve efficiencies, while also providing a safer, more comfortable elevator ride.