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Soaring upwards

Published 05/16/2015

News emerged this past week that Finnish lift firm KONE initiated the first stage of elevator and escalator installations for Saudi Arabia’s 1km-tall structure, Kingdom Tower.

Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the mammoth skyscraper will feature double-deck elevators with travel speeds of over 10 m/s.

The tower’s elevator arrangements are an interesting case study to examine the improvements made in elevator technology over the years. Building owners are beginning to see the impact made by elevator energy consumption on the total cost of their building.

Furthermore, tall structures bring with them arguably long waiting and travel times – a concern many local readers from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar might share. Consequently, elevator manufacturers have increasingly invested their energies in ensuring their products offer value to project developers, consultants, and building users alike.

For Kingdom Tower, a building of unprecedented height, KONE will deliver DoubleDeck elevators, supported by the UltraRope system, which was launched in 2013 and picked for use in the super-structure currently taking shape in Jeddah.

In tall buildings, the height an elevator can reach is limited by the weight of steel ropes needed to hoist it. The rope has to pull up not only the car and the flexible travelling cables that take electricity and communications to it, but also all the rope beneath it.

The job is made easier by counterweights, but in a lift 500m tall, steel ropes account for up to 75% of the moving mass of the machine. Shifting this mass takes energy, so taller lifts are more expensive to run. Making the ropes longer would risk the steel snapping under the load. But KONE has stated it is able to reduce the weight of lift ropes by around 90% with UltraRope.

According to Joh

annes de Jong, KONE’s head of technology for large projects, the steel ropes in a 400m-high lift weigh about 18,650kg. An UltraRope for such a lift would weigh just 1,170kg, he adds.

Carbon fibres, KONE’s engineers explain, are both stronger and lighter than steel, and offer substantial tensile strength, meaning they are hard to break when their ends are pulled. That strength comes from the chemical bonds between carbon atoms; the same process that gives such strength to diamonds.

KONE’s People Flow

Intelligence system will also be installed in Kingdom Tower. Comprising access and destination control systems, as well as information communication and equipment monitoring, People Flow Intelligence oversees the movement of foot traffic within a structure.

Designed for use in commercial offices and residential high-rises, the line includes access points such as turnstiles and security gates.

By using cards with pre-programmed profiles, end-users can gain access to the building and lifts, as well as automatically assigned specific elevators, which will help improve the flow of foot traffic. The system software also collates data, formulating trends and traffic patterns to better predict peak periods and adjust lift access accordingly.

Commenting on the benefits of People Flow Intelligence, de Jong says: “When you have a huge amount of people moving, you really have to look at efficiency to make the wait time as short as possible,” adding “thousands of people have to be moved” at a steady pace.

“If we have information about people’s movements even before they enter the elevators, then we can do a lot more and we can make the traffic move more efficiently. Using destination technology reduces your waiting time and your travel time, which means there is greater efficiency for users of the elevator,” he continues.

Elevator manufacturers are also graduating towards greater energy efficiency targets. With buildings responsible for 40% of the world’s energy consumption, new global elevator systems are capable of energy savings by up to 27%, while increasing usable floor space by up to 30%.

“Buildings in our cities today are being locked into poor energy patterns by inefficient building services, which have an average lifespan of 15 years,” ThyssenKrupp Elevator CEO, Andreas Schierenbeck, says.

“Facilities such as elevators, heating, and so on are not running at their most efficient levels, so it is of upmost importance we address this now and upgrade facilities more resourcefully, else we run the risk of low energy performances until 2030.”

The Thyssenkrupp Elevator expert calls for sustainability to be given due respect as a function inherent to construction processes and products: “The need for sustainable urbanisation is something we can no longer ignore, and with a number of clear and tangible benefits, energy-efficient elevator solutions are at the core of delivering truly sustainable cities of the future,” he adds.

“The time to integrate these systems into buildings is now. The expertise and products already exist; the challenge is speeding up the integration process to upgrade our building stock more quickly.”

Schierenbeck’s views are likely to find takers in the UAE market, the most unequivocal proponent of technology and sustainability among GCC countries. Given the country’s ambitious design and construction targets, it may not be long before the UAE’s construction community voices its support for smart elevators, much like it is now for Building Information Modelling (BIM).

A Thyssenkrupp Elevators spokesperson says the company considers BIM to be an “interesting” market, which will gain importance for the buildings constructed in the future. It is currently investigating solutions available on the market that can modify elevator data into BIM-compatible software, and has entered negotiations
with various developers.

“In terms of a standard solution for elevators, we are monitoring the market for different solutions because we are planning to create a solution tailored to the needs of our customers,” the Thyssenkrupp Elevators spokesperson continued.

Thyssenkrupp’s products are proof that the global elevator industry sees benefits in the research, development, and manufacture of smart products, especially at a time when supertalls are the preferred construction design.

Thyssenkrupp’s Destination Selection Control is the first step towards the company’s wider smart elevator ambitions. Destination Selection Control requires passengers to enter their desired destination floor on a keypad in the elevator lobby before entering an elevator. The system then groups passengers with the same destination in
the same car.

Destination Selection Control, by eliminating frequent interruptions for single or two passengers on intermittent floors, can reduce travel time, waiting time, and improve energy efficiency in the building. In some cases, the system may also lead to potential reductions in the number of elevator shafts by up to 30%, thus benefitting the building owner in financial terms.

Thyssenkrupp Elevator’s spokesperson says intelligent data collated from elevators can also be transferred to directly to service technicians.

“Our recently presented preventive service system, co-developed with Microsoft and IT service provider firm CGI, enables our elevators to be connected via the cloud to allow all functions to be monitored – from cab speed to capacity to door mechanisms.

“Instead of responding to problems, service engineers can now access real-time data and take measures to prevent elevator breakdowns before they occur. Customers benefit from significantly longer up times. In the future, smart elevators will provide condition reports automatically, enabling breakdowns to be reduced to a minimum. This will be of immense benefit in medium-size and tall buildings, where elevators are the key means of internal transportation,” the Thyssenkrupp expert concludes.

For further information, please contact:
Noha Kadora, Marketing and Communications Manager, KONE Middle East, tel. +971 42734500

By: Construction week online

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