Improving Elevator Environments through Digital Technologies

Implementing new digital technologies in elevator systems is more than just about adding more sensors and gadgets. Like with every other product in the era of ‘tech convergence’, elevator design must address questions of user convenience.

Making Elevators Easy for the User

User convenience is a key part of User Experience design, i.e., incorporating the human-machine interaction in the engineering of elevator systems. We know that elevators serve to make transport between offices, work floors and levels, easier. The goal of the convenience lift engineer, then, is to make this commute as easy, convenient and efficient as possible. This means less waiting time for lifts to arrive, faster climbing and descent, smoother trips with minimum vibrations and uniform speeds to reduce the effects of sudden acceleration against or due to gravity.

Elevator Design Should Meet User Expectations of Functionality

Apart from the above usual mechanical calculations, the elevator designer has also to keep in mind building codes for elevator safety. The strength of materials used, load-bearing stresses, recommended tension in the supporting cables, the dissipation of impulse in emergency break springs, and so on. Home users typically install elevators to increase functionality, saving on space, increasing the property value, the safety of older adults and children and adding style to their interior décor. Home elevator designers should ensure that new blueprints include these considerations. Passenger elevators in hospitals are vital to transferring patients to the ER room and intensive care units. Carrying bulky equipment and people with disabilities across residential and office floors is another function that modern elevators indispensably perform.

Real-Time Predictive Systems in Elevator Design & Maintenance

So where do digital technologies fit in? Well, we would all like our elevators to work with minimum hiccups, fewer breakdowns, and pro-active maintenance, instead of reactive maintenance. ThyssenKrupp’s MAX elevator technology is one of the elevator’s industry’s first real-time, cloud-based predictive maintenance systems. This smart elevator application collects machine data such as door movements, trips, power-ups, car calls, error codes, etc. from globally connected elevators to network clouds. Here, a unique algorithm analyzes the performance of the equipment and computes probable lifetimes. Using this analysis, maintenance workers can schedule service interventions ahead of time. Elevator downtime and operating lifetimes are, thus, dramatically increased, as is cab availability.

Similar applications are being successfully developed and implemented by many other independent elevator designs and servicing businesses.

Bringing the Elevator to Life

Elevator responsiveness is another way in which elevator design is being influenced by digital tech. Responsive lighting according to time of day, mood music, convenient support rails and chairs for the elderly and the disabled, especially over lengthy elevator rides in tall buildings, are other features that enhance the user experience. Artificial Intelligence is being used to instantly respond to ad hoc or impromptu user requests in many computer-connected services. A similar application could be devised for elevators to handle emergencies, convey medical and safety instructions, read out the latest news on stocks and politics before investor meetings, etc.

Elevator interior design could add functionality for the lift user, similar to the way Uber and Lyft use digital tech to convey notifications and safety information.

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