Features like sensors, LED lights and weight-bearing capacity provide safer escalator experience in addition to enhancing aesthetic appeal of stations.
Escalators form the mainstay of operations in all types buildings and metro stations are no exception. Metro stations across the country undertaking measures to upgrade technology thereby enhancing escalator usage. According to reports, Delhi metro has installed 15.6-metre escalators with the highest elevation in India, which would be like a whiff of fresh air in the everyday experience of commuters.
However, design and technology play a pivotal role in determining the quality of escalator experience at metro stations. Here is what industry experts say about this along with their latest offerings in the space.
Role of design
Safety can be maximised if escalators are designed keeping user behaviour in mind. According to Bharat Vishnani, Managing Director, thyssenkrupp Elevator (India) Pvt Ltd, step up-thrust device stops the unit if an object gets trapped between steps thereby helping prevent accidents involving buggies. Double-shoe brake system with dual circuit-brake compensate in the unlikely event of failures, thus ensuring a safe stop. Skirt safety switch stops the unit if something gets trapped between the step and skirt thereby helping prevent accidents with high friction footwear. Safety curtains beside balustrade prevent people from falling over the balustrade, etc. He adds, “thyssenkrupp puts safety first and offers a wide range of escalators with over 50 safety features.”
Schindler provides comprehensive solutions to ensure that every passenger rides safely, paying special attention to the passengers who may have special needs. Vincent Pinto, Senior Vice President – New Installation Business, Schindler India Pvt Ltd says, “Schindler provides the strongest and safest steps in the market and guarantees safe rides even after years of operation. Each step can hold up to 2000 kg of weight while travelling and is made up of a single piece dye-casted aerospace aluminium material.” The steps come with a yellow plastic safety demarcation which is made up of state-of-the-art fire resistant and oil resistant material.
The escalators come with LED step gap lighting and LED comb lighting that provides easy visibility at entry and exit points. Even though the gap between steps and skirting is already minimised, there are skirt brushes which provide extra safety by avoiding entrapment, which is especially important for children with small feet and for passengers wearing loose footwear. Brushes at the handrail entry point prevent trapping of passenger digits. There is an additional safety deflector outside the escalator balustrade to avoid accidents.
The escalators are also provided with sensors which trigger a cut-off mechanism for the motor if the water level rises above a certain specified limit preventing damage to the motors and equipment and consequential hazard to the users of the escalator. There is also an option of providing IP54-rated systems which improve the safety of the equipment from dust and water issues. Other safety features which come standard with the escalators are emergency stop button, anti-friction coating, steps with grippers and many optional features.
Increasing aesthetical appeal
The impressive choice of high-quality materials and attractive colours can make a striking statement and enhance the escalator’s overall appeal. Furthermore, from the outer cladding and the decking to the balustrade glass and the handrail, every design detail can be made customisable. thyssenkrupp has installed an escalator in London with its Art Nouveau cladding. Vishnani from thyssenkrupp says, “We even have installations under water. At Shanghai’s Ocean Aquarium where visitors travel through a transparent underwater tunnel on two of our escalators so they can focus all their attention on the underwater world.”
Schindler escalators come with myriad offerings including multiple handrail colour options, floor covers, step colours and finishes to choose from. LED lighting options are available for skirtings, step gaps and balustrade fittings. A LED outer decking direction indicator also comes as an additional feature which gives the escalator’s entry point a pleasant sense of welcome.
The company’s Digital Plan and Design tool adds key value on this front, by helping architects and customers alike, to plan for the optimum elevator configuration while designing their buildings. It helps not only in planning, but this dynamic tool also enables architects to create elevator layouts, elevator traffic study and tender documents in customised manner for their projects. Moreover, the tool will help architects and designers in all kinds of facilities planning based on its type and usage, be it residential, commercial, hotels, hospitals etc.
Pinto from Schindler says, “Schindler Digital Plan and Design uses the latest visualisation technology and data analytics to give designers and customers comprehensive product specifications and detailed layout drawings which are invaluable.” Architects using this will be provided with two options i.e. guided planning where the designers will navigate through the portal and enter building design details, and fast track that allows the architect to filter the product catalogue to find the desired planning data which includes determining the minimum elevator requirements through a simple traffic study and product recommendations.
Global trends fused into Indian aesthetics
Usually, the following factors are kept in mind while constructing and designing elevators – travel height or distance, speed, capacity, type of doors, power supply needs, finishes and fixtures, seismic provisions, etc. thyssenkrupp Elevator is focused on localising its products and services, the Indian product line is robust at the same time aesthetically appealing. It has been specially designed to suit the Indian market after understanding the needs of the company’s customers across various segments. Vishnani says, “We have launched two new elevators i.e. enta200 and meta100 to meet the needs of the growing low- and mid-rise real estate markets in the country with world-class products of German quality.”
Traffic-analysis tool based on real-time simulation
Elevator is literally the lifeline of a building and the breakthroughs in elevator technology have made it possible for the buildings to grow tall. It is important to plan for the correct number and specifications of elevators, considering the type of building, its tenancy, population, etc., as once the elevators are installed, it is hard to add more elevators without making substantial changes to the building structure. The tool helps customers to plan for the optimum elevator configuration while designing their buildings.
As important is the design and quality of the elevator, it is equally important that it is installed and serviced by trained experts. Recognising the importance of highly skilled workforce, Schindler India has invested in four, full-fledged, state-of-the-art training centres at Mumbai, Bangalore, Noida and the newly launched Schindler University in Pune.
Factors to consider
Key factors that should be taken into consideration before undertaking a project include load and capacity requirements, number of people in a building, traffic patterns, speed, and safety systems like the automatic rescue system, infra-red door curtains, load weighing device, and mechanical safeties. Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India says, “We find customers asking for energy-efficient equipment, options of power stand-by mode or automatic switch-off, environmentally responsible systems and elevators that offer ease of maintenance.” From a quality stand point, the company evaluates systems on the basis of ride quality alongside reduced noise and vibration. Integrated security systems too are also being widely considered this day and age.
Upgrading elevator technology
Vishnani says, “thyssenkrupp Elevator aims to be on the forefront of providing innovative mobility solutions, and has consistently distinguished itself in providing such solutions that are tailored for rapidly developing urban areas.”
Schindler anticipates and assesses the project’s design and technical requirements, in terms of engineering and installation of the equipment and accordingly augments its teams with skilled technical manpower to execute the same in the scheduled time. Pinto asserts, “Schindler is the first multinational company to have both the elevator and escalator manufacturing facilities in India. Both the manufacturing facilities are aimed at further advancing and establishing Schindler’s technological and manufacturing capabilities to serve the growing market of India.”
Gen2 elevator with a ReGen drive
As urbanisation drives demand for housing, the need for smart technologies to support growth will become a must. This has led to rise in demand for ‘green’ elevators, such as the Otis Gen2 elevator with a ReGen drive that can reduce energy consumption by 75 per cent under normal operation compared to traditional elevators with non-regenerative drives. The Gen2 range of elevators is available in various configurations and speeds to suit both commercial and residential applications. As for existing elevators, they can be made more energy efficient by adding Variable Frequency Drives (VF drive) in the door system and elevator control system. This helps to optimise power consumption by better regulating power. ReGen drives can additionally be fitted to an existing system so that energy generated by the elevator can be fed back into the building’s grid. And auto-fan and auto-light switch off operations can also be adopted and LED lights can be used to replace tube lights inside the elevator car.
To expand on the concept of ‘fast’, Otis’s engineers are working to develop the next generation of elevators. The next developments in elevator technology leverages digitalisation and centre on the passenger experience. The new generation will connect manufacturing to installation to service allowing the company to deliver to the customer a totally different service. The next leap involves smart elevators which are connected elevators capable of communicating with passengers, building managers, service staff and other building systems to improve the passenger experience and elevator performance, especially through improved elevator maintenance. Joseph says, “We’re transforming our service business globally to incorporate smart, connected technology that delivers proactive, quick and effective diagnostics and repair.”
The transformation is an investment in digital tools, mobility solutions, apps, IoT and operational excellence to enhance customer experience and accelerate business productivity. Otis has developed and is accelerating additional effort across the organisation to expand the use of internal service apps being developed by field teams around the world. These new tools enable Otis’s field employees to be more efficient, source information faster, develop even stronger ties with the customer and see a problem before it becomes one.
thyssenkrupp : multiple solutions
Vishnani from thyssenkrupp Elevator explains the following significant advancement in elevator technology:
MULTI is the world’s first rope-free elevator that moves multiple cars in a single shaft vertically and horizontally and reduces elevators’ footprint by up to 50 per cent while increasing passenger throughput. MULTI is set to revolutionise tall building construction. With MULTI’s rope-free system, architects and developers are no longer restricted in their designs by concerns about elevator shaft height and vertical alignment. MULTI opens the door to design possibilities in all directions.
The TWIN elevator system consists of two cabs that operate in the same shaft independent of each other. Both cabs operate under the same intelligent group control system and are equipped with an innovative quadruple redundancy safety system. It uses less energy while transporting up to 40 per cent more passengers than conventional elevators.
MAX is a game-changing predictive and pre-emptive service solution that extends remote monitoring capabilities to dramatically increase current availability levels of existing and new elevators. Utilising the power of Microsoft Azure Internet of Things (IoT) technology, MAX makes it possible for an elevator to ‘tell’ service technicians its real needs, including real-time identification of repairs, component replacements and proactive system maintenance.
Schindler Ahead connects elevators and escalators with Schindler’s cloud-platform. This powerful connection makes it possible to deliver predictive services, real-time information for its customers, service technicians and the customer contact centre and a range of personalised solutions for passengers. At the centre of the new solution is the Ahead Cube. A smart communication gateway that runs analytics, transmits data and evolves as per the customer’s demand. Over-the-air (OTA) updates ensure that this technology almost never gets outdated and via a growing portfolio of Cube Apps it is able to unleash new services instantly.
This new initiative is for the development of smart IoT components for a seamless connectivity of elevators and escalators. Pinto from Schindler states, “More than one billion users across the globe rely on Schindler’s mobility solutions every day. Timely and efficient management of these assets is critical for safety and customer satisfaction. The Predix based digital platform will enable Schindler to predictively identify, analyse and resolve possible service issues before they happen, reducing and eliminating downtime.” The new IoT connectivity solution is a crucial element of Schindler’s digital platform and will enable Schindler to better monitor, analyse and leverage data generated from its elevators and escalators.
Otis: aesthetic design and upcoming launches
Otis India introduced two new aesthetic cab finish offerings based on two design themes – Aura, that reflects Indian warmth and culture and Atmos, the ‘new age’ of modern India that provides sleek design options for building architects and designers. These are available on a select range of Gen2 elevators. “We will be producing escalators at our Bengaluru factory later this year as well as a higher speed elevator of 2.5 metres per second meant for taller buildings,” added Joseph.
thyssenkrupp puts safety first and offers a range of escalators with over 50 safety features.
Bharat Vishnani, Managing Director, thyssenkrupp Elevator (India) Pvt Ltd
Schindler provides the strongest and safest steps in the market and guarantees safe rides even after years of operation.”
Vincent Pinto, Sr. Vice President – New Installation Business, Schindler India Pvt Ltd
We’re transforming our service business globally to incorporate smart, connected technology that delivers proactive, quick and effective diagnostics and repair.”
Sebi Joseph, President, Otis India