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Sat 18 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Going up!

The elevator and escalator industry continues to grow along with the construction sector. Shikha Mishra finds out how energy-saving designs and enhanced features have led to improvements.

The elevator and escalator industry continues to grow along with the construction sector. Shikha Mishra finds out how energy-saving designs and enhanced features have led to improvements.

With increasing urbanisation and the large number of buildings being constructed worldwide and in particular in the Middle East, the demand for energy-efficient and high-speed lifts and escalators as a smooth and fast way to move people and cargo continues to rise.

The Middle East market has its inherent challenges which elevator and escalator companies have to work around.

Previously all projects were handled by our UK office, but due to the large amount of high-rise buildings being built in Dubai and the region, there was an enormous need for us to introduce a dedicated vertical transportation department here. - Keith England, director of vertical transportation, WSP Middle East.

Al-Futtaim Engineering's elevator and escalator division's general manager, John Ho, says that the project schedules in the region require maximum resources and quality output to complete projects on time or ahead of schedule to meet the high demand in the industry.

Despite the challenges, Ho says that the Middle East is one of the most exciting markets to work in.

"Compared to the rest of the world, the Middle East's vertical transportation requirements are phenomenal in meeting the newest building design concepts. The unique configurations of aesthetics combined with varying capacities and faster speed for elevators that architects, consultants and developers are demanding is truly amazing. Projects such as the rotating and twisting tower require the elevators to be centrally located in the core which remains stable, while the remaining building structure is placed on a rotating axis," says Ho.

Elevators and escalators account for 2% to 10% of a building's entire energy consumption.

Al-Futtaim Engineering's elevators and escalators division marketing manager, Rajeev Kumar, says that the green solutions for elevator and escalator designs offer high energy savings, by drawing upon proportionate power during operations, improve building efficiency and increase property value.

Energy saving systems are equipped with advanced control software to provide faster, more efficient capabilities, thereby allowing building owners to accomodate end-users with higher traffic needs.

But despite being expensive, awareness about green solutions is spreading in the region. Consultants are applying this to buildings as the Dubai government is emphasising the need for environmentally-friendly buildings.

Modern elevators use permanent magnetic machines when compared to conventional AC motors which saved significant amount of energy and utilises the regenerated energy which typically gets wasted.

New developments in drive technology have increased elevator speeds and decreased passenger waiting time while maintaining lower energy consumption.

"Elevators also conserve energy through permanent magnetic gearless machines and innovative elevator applications, which demand less energy consumption than standard systems," says Kumar.

Kone offers eco-efficient solutions for its elevators such as the EcoDisc hoisting machine that uses up to 50% less energy than a traction two-speed drive, and 70% less energy than a hydraulic drive.

Kone is working on a number of projects in the region, including the Capital Plaza complex in Abu Dhabi that will feature the region's first double-deck destination control-equipped models.

The double-deck application involves stacking two elevator cars on top of each other in the same hoist-way to make more efficient use of the building's core space.

The green revolution does not stop at elevators, with escalators also offering energy saving features.

"Environmentally-friendly designs have come through for escalators as well. The motor in such designs is controlled by a torque, so the escalator can intelligently weigh the passengers and inject the voltage accordingly. The power consumption is according to the number of passengers on the escalator," Al-Futtaim engineering's elevator and escalator division's sales manager Shabir TK, says.

The market for lifts and escalators in the region will continue to grow with companies such as WSP Middle East launching a vertical transportation department and opening a branch office in Dubai.

"Previously all projects were handled by our UK office, but due to the large amount of high-rise buildings being built in Dubai and the region, there was an enormous need for us to introduce a dedicated vertical transportation department here," says Keith England, director of vertical transportation, WSP Middle East.

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