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Long gone are the days of mechanical floor indicators above the doorways of lobby-level elevators. Gone, too, are the bellmen who actually operated elevators. And for many people, elevator controls inside the cab might also fade into memory.
Changes in elevator codes are paving the way for new elevator technologies, particularly for high-rise office space. Today’s premium elevators, particularly in high-rise space, eliminate traditional elevator controls, relying instead upon complex dispatching systems to shorten wait time for elevator passengers.
Destination-based dispatching systems were first pioneered in the 1990s by Schindler Elevator Corp., following the surge of increased microprocessor capacity during the 1980s. Generally, dispatch systems rely on a central control panel located in the building’s lobby. As people enter the building, they enter a destination on the control panel. Computer processors then match floor requests to elevators. A visual indicator or annunciator alerts passengers waiting in the lobby which elevators will service their destination.
Most destination-based dispatch systems can have control panels located anywhere facility executives deem appropriate. “Touchpads can be located in the lobby and at each floor, and they can also be in the car,” says Jeff Crusham, senior product manager of new equipment for Otis.
But increasingly elevator cars that are part of dispatch systems have no in-cab elevator controls. All destinations are entered at panels near the bank of elevators. Elevator company representatives say that the systems are simple to use after just one time — but warn that the first experience can stymie tenants or building visitors.
Some dispatching systems take into account additional data beyond the mere destination, using an individual’s personal information to tailor the dispatching system. With the Schindler ID system architecture, passengers use a badge, PIN code, key tag or other electronically readable device that is programmed with personal details. The system then assigns an elevator car based on that information — a feature that is particularly helpful for passengers with disabilities.
The ID system works in conjunction with the company’s Miconic 10 destination control system. Security functions can be added to that system. For example, when a visitor or tenant enters a location that requires a security clearance, the kiosk will prompt the user for security approval.
Most elevator major manufactures now offer the ability to use destination dispatch systems as an added layer of building security.
“We can use any number of identifying devices,” says Stuart Prior, ThyssenKrupp’s executive vice president for product sales and marketing in the Americas, “from keycards to codes, to infrared beams.
Schindler’s dispatching system allows facility executives to assign specific elevators to tenants. “Because this system can account for personal information, it will separate people and only allow access to specific elevators,” says Saloio.
Flexibility is part of what makes dispatching systems popular in high-rise spaces. Because the algorithms that govern car movement are programmable, dispatching systems can be custom-tailored to individual applications. Cars can be “ganged” during high-traffic periods of the day — at lunchtime, for example.
By accommodating specific facility needs, manufacturers claim that dispatch systems can save time, reducing passenger wait and travel times by as much as 30 percent.
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