Cutting-Edge Elevator Technology

Elevating architecture with destination dispatch controls
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Sponsored by Schindler Elevator Corporation
C.C. Sullivan

Depending on the situation, a building occupant may have a cab preference or a need for additional time to enter the cab. (In some cases, the user may simply desire more space.) Programming the user profile to represent these needs helps assure the positive experience. Some manufacturers also offer additional control and call options, such as call panels installed in remote spaces, such as private offices, and even apps for smartphones or personal digital devices that interact directly with the destination dispatch system, allowing the user to alert the system of arrival time or interfloor travel needs.

A system can also be programmed to assign cars based on organizational structures or personal requirements. Doctors and medical staff in a hospital, for example – may need to have special access privileges or increased privacy as they ride. Some real estate executives see personalized access to a private or semi-private car as a way to encourage high-profile tenants to sign or renew their leases.

Additionally, destination-based systems can even be used to create personalized audio-visual experiences in the cab. Rather than listen to Muzak, riders may be treated to a favorite song, a news story relevant to their company or personal interests, an advertisement of specials in the cafeteria, and much more. This not only enhances the user experience, but also can create opportunities for intra-building synergy. In mixed-use buildings, the owner could conceivably earn revenue from retail and food service tenants who want to advertise to the rest of the user population. By the same token, the user could personalize his experience to eliminate certain advertisements (or all of them), which, in fact, makes the advertising more effective, by presenting it only to users who are amenable.

Planning for Elevator Projects

Before beginning a discussion of using destination dispatch as a component of modernization, retrofit and renovation projects, it is worthwhile to note a few common questions and concerns about the technology. These factors bear directly on the questions of whether or not to incorporate one of these systems into a design—or to suggest that a client do so.

Technologies are Distinct

Specification issues arise in the adoption of any control technology. In the case of destination-dispatch elevators, the platforms and manufacturers are not equivalent, so care must be taken when attempting to secure competitive bids and issue “or-equal” specifications. Experts advise that architects and project teams establish the differentiation between systems by asking manufacturers to run traffic simulations. These numerical models can give the end-user or client a true sense of what each system is capable of doing in various traffic modes.

Not Just High-Rise

First, it may seem from much discussion and education about destination dispatch that it is a promising and successful technology in high-rise structures only. This has been proven otherwise: Efficiency gains and traffic-handling benefits can also be realized in a midrise project. And the personalization, security, safety and other benefits and features of the system will be just as powerful and effective as they are in high-rise towers, lending the same prestige, visual impact and individualized service.

User Behavior

It should also be mentioned that issues arise when adopting any new technology. Users will need simple instruction in the use of their cards and the likely behaviors of the elevators so that, for instance they do not ignore elevator assignments in favor of the first open car they see, a behavior typical of riders in conventional elevator banks. This can be important for buildings such as hotels or hospitals, in which many of the elevator calls and rides are from first-time visitors who will be unfamiliar with the technology.

As this new technology becomes more familiar, the likelihood of this kind of reaction will dwindle. Ultimately, destination dispatch could become ubiquitous, making it as recognizable as a two-button panel is now.

Phased Modernizations

For many architects, the adoption of a destination-dispatch elevator system will take place as part of a phased modernization. In these projects, the new destination controls are installed “on top” of an older system as a first step in the modernization. The process requires about two weeks per elevator, according to Schindler's Lippman. One reason for the phased approach is that it improves the efficiency of the entire system so that removal of an elevator for complete modernization has less impact on the building operation throughout the project; a second benefit is that the owner and tenants have access to all of the personalization and access capabilities of the system from the early stages rather than waiting up 12 or more months as in traditional modernizations without the phased modernization approach.

Whether for modernization or new construction projects, the particulars of installation and usage of destination-based control systems across various building types and project scopes can be instructive. Several case studies presented in this article offer instructive examples.

“As with all technologies that become more commonplace, the acceptance of destination dispatch has improved across varied building types,” says Lippman. “We see a migration of the technology from high-rise Class A office buildings to mid-rise Class A office blocks. We now see more use in hospitals, multi-family buildings and hotels, and even dormitories.” At one healthcare facility, the new controls are used in innovative ways: proximity cards allow use without touching buttons or panels, helping reduce nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections. In addition, a patient gurney has been modified to include its own elevator access card, so the responding elevator cab is always big enough for the rolling beds.

Most important, the destination-dispatch products will help address the so-called “performance plateau” seen with older, conventional elevator technology. The result? A more efficient and sustainable future for building mobility solutions.

C.C. Sullivan is a marketing communications consultant specializing in architecture and construction.


Schindler Elevator Corporation

Schindler Elevator Corporation is the North American operation of the Switzerland-based Schindler Group. A leading global mobility provider, Schindler supports sustainable urban development with safe, reliable, and ecologically sound mobility solutions, and its equipment moves one billion people every day all over the world.



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Originally published in Architectural Record