Lift off: new lift technology to get Ahead
There’s an old adage that advised getting a hat to get ahead, but an innovative new technology can solve lift problems with such alacrity that those utilising it will certainly be at the front of the pack, writes PETER DARLEY.
As many facilities managers will be aware, the roll-out of the NBN (national broadband network) has brought with it some significant issues for lift operation, in particular with regards to the disconnection of emergency lift phones. In January of this year, The Sunday Telegraph reported that lift phones across Sydney were being affected, leaving thousands of people “at risk of being trapped and with no way to call for help”.
The Federal Government’s NBN scheme is intended to replace most existing fixed telephone and internet networks, but this means that during any power outages, emergency lift phones will no longer be operational. This has serious wider ramifications, with fire service panels and medical alert systems also potentially affected. The NBN good practice guide itself advises users to “find an alternative”.
Fortunately, that alternative is available.
There are now several solutions on the market that have been designed to address the emergency lift phone issues raised by the NBN roll-out. There are third-party providers offering solutions, as well as some telcos developing their own products.
However, the Schindler Ahead product offering is much broader in scope and has far more capabilities than a basic NBN offering. It links in to the evolution of smart buildings in Australia and takes advantage of the most advanced technology to solve a wide range of problems and potential problems that facilities managers are confronted with regarding the lift systems they manage.
What building owners, and property and facilities managers have made clear is that they do not want to have multiple stakeholders involved when dealing with lift issues. They do not want the complications of dealing with lift engineers, telcos and various tradespersons all at the same time. Nor do they welcome the idea of managing SIM cards, and monitoring networks and batteries or being subjected to lock-in contracts and proprietary technology.
Schindler Ahead makes the process of lift management and troubleshooting far more streamlined. It is easily installed, comes with no extra costs and, importantly, requires just one point of contact for all lifts and lift phones. At the most basic level it offers a radical approach to solving breakdowns and other problems. Since time immemorial the system has been that a problematic situation will arise, the person affected will then contact the lift provider and the provider will then come out and fix the problem.
And in large commercial buildings where there may be banks of lifts, it’s often not until the busiest period that a broken down lift actually comes to a facilities manager’s attention – when it may have already been causing delays and consequent losses in productivity for hours, unbeknown to the building’s tenants and other users.
Schindler Ahead’s 24/7 remote monitoring system has predicative capability, meaning the situation is immediately taken out of the customer’s hands and becomes automatic. The entire cycle of lift management from installation to monitoring to incident response is taken care of, quickly and efficiently. If, for example, a lift breaks down, a service engineer is alerted and receives comprehensive details of the problem. These informed technicians can arrive on-site fully prepared to rectify the problem.
Remote monitoring has already been proven to offer a three-hour time advantage over self-detection of breakdowns. This speed of response is matched by efficiency levels, with problems being fixed 30 percent faster, reducing downtime and inconvenience.
With its full-service offering, Schindler Ahead is a full-service solution. In the past, confusion over whether an incident was a phone line or lift issue would sometimes lead to debate and finger-pointing. Now Schindler will totally manage the lift communication on behalf of the customer.
The Cube technology enables faults to be sent through to a remote monitoring platform call centre in Botany Bay in Sydney, which in turn relays the information to the relevant technician.
There are currently over 600 buildings in Australia that have already installed this type of equipment. All of the compatible lifts are being remotely monitored and, if a problem arises, the technician dispatched knows what the fault is before they even reach the site. They will have the details on the field link tool, aka their iPhone, which tell them exactly where to go and what they will need to do when they get there, eliminating the necessity of diagnosing and performing a root cause analysis on the spot.
And this isn’t the end of the technology: predictive capability means that technicians can be alerted before a problem has even manifested itself. The GE Predix cloud takes things to the next level by using algorithms to actually understand what a fault looks like and compare it other lifts and problems across the globe. Within the next nine to 12 months it’s believed that this data will eventually lead to the ability to even start predicting breakdowns long before they happen.
Over the air and security patches already happen automatically, and the system will be able to use its predictive modelling to work out when parts may need replacing or other elements are likely to need repair.
Peter Darley is the national sales manager – Service and Repair at Schindler Lifts Australia Pty Ltd.
This article also appears in the April/May issue of Facility Management magazine.
Images courtesy of Schindler.