#LMLLiftConsultants attended the 2018 World Elevator Escalator Expo "WEE", held in Shanghai, on a "fact finding" mission and to take a look at the latest and greatest products and technologies, to keep ourselves, and in turn our Clients informed.
With a population just shy of 25 million, it makes perfect sense for Shanghai to host the Expo, given that vertical expansion is the only solution when it comes to such a dense population. In addition, over 600,000 elevators were sold in China last year, so there are a large number of manufacturers and suppliers all wanting a piece of that ever-growing pie.
So, what is the future likely to look like in terms of elevators and escalators?
Remember that funny "voice activated" voice recognition elevator clip on You Tube recently doing the rounds, where the elevator was struggling to understand a Scottish accent? Well, funnily enough, would you believe, that IS the direction in which things are heading.
There were exhibitors using "facial recognition" technology at the landing to call the Lift securely and once inside the Lift "voice recognition" technology to select the destination. There is also technology being developed which will be capable of detecting the language being spoken automatically, which would be a really useful feature in many applications such as airports for example. In addition to this, there are now manufacturers including interactive software to enable passengers to ask things such as... "what is the weather like", "where is the food court", "whats the latest news", or "which level is the dentist on"??? etc etc etc. Think of it as a "Siri" or "OK Google" arrangement, but also customised for the building, so it also has the ability to be a directory or used for marketing purposes. Traditional mechanical pushbuttons may just be a thing of the past in the near future.
There was definitely an increasing focus on "predictive maintenance" and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies from both the majors and independent suppliers. In one example which we have been watching closely, using the IoT technology the Seoul Metro has cut more than a third off the time taken to repair escalators. IoT enabled sensors were installed to 100 escalators at 12 stations in the Seoul Metro, which provide alerts in real-time when problems are detected. This then prompts the Technician who already knows the problem in advance and can arrange the necessary components and repair activities. Average repair times in this example have dropped from 56 minutes to 37 minutes, a 37% decrease. From our perspective, the more data gathered across Lift and escalator equipment the better, however, as is the case with any data, it really depends on what you do with it and how you use it, otherwise the traditional "preventative maintenance" approach, when applied correctly in accordance with Original Equipment Manufacturer's recommendations may still provide higher levels of equipment uptime.
Another area of interest worth mentioning in relation to the new equipment market, is that the Machine-Room-Less range of equipment is on the increase, with one particular manufacturer offering speeds of up to 3.5m/s (with 4.0m/s likely in the not too distant future).
Destination Control Systems (DCS) continue to increase in popularity with many more manufacturers focusing on the peripheral side of the product and making them more appealing in terms of aesthetics and choice of finishes available, as well as "user friendly" screens, where you could simply select "gym", "pool", "shopping", or "dining", for example and you would be taken to your desired destination. This is geared towards mixed-use developments and the residential market, which currently has a much lower level of acceptance towards DCS.
We saw the showcasing of a "trolley escalator", to transport trolley separately to passengers to improve safety and efficiency. The obvious application for this would be at airports and various configurations are possible in order to save space.
There was a massive amount of things to look at and for us Lift geeks, it was heaven! You could literally spend days looking around the Expo and still not see everything. A great place to visit.
It's almost a little scary at just how fast technology is moving and we expect that there will be many new products and technologies introduced to the market very soon.
Oh, did I mention "robots"? Yes, lots of those too!
Follow this link for more https://www.WEE 2018