Looking at the evolution of the trusted elevator

21st July 2017
Posted By : Anna Flockett
Looking at the evolution of the trusted elevator

It was back in March 1857, that the world’s first successful safe passenger elevator was designed by Elisha Otis and installed in the five-story 24m tall Haughwout Building on Broadway in New York City. It cost $300 and moved at about 20cm per second. This development led to exciting times. As designers and architects began to appreciate the possibilities offered by elevators, much higher buildings became feasible, eventually leading to the enormous skyscrapers of today.

Ultimate example of ‘Upward Mobility’
Not only did skylines change but the elevator also had an important socio-economic impact. Suddenly, the upper levels of buildings which previously were harder to reach via stairways, and therefore inhabited by people with less money, were attractive to the wealthier class.

Thus, a position swap gradually took place. The luxury apartments which previously were on lower levels, for easier access, moved to the top floors which offered better views, more light and less street noise.

But that was a long time ago. Today we all ride elevators, usually without giving them very much thought or appreciation. Except perhaps when the ride is bumpy or the doors stay open for too long.

Appreciating elevators
ABB has given elevators lots of thought. The company still likes to get excited about, and appreciate, them as it works continuously to improve the user experience. When discussing elevator controls and service with professionals in the field, it’s clear that the tasks elevators perform are not easy. In fact, many motor control experts consider them to be among the toughest applications of all for variable speed drives to manage.

Safety is naturally the highest priority, of course. After that users normally just want a quiet and smooth ride in which they hardly notice they’re moving. However, achieving this can be difficult. Operating cycles are demanding, with frequent and rapid acceleration/deceleration phases being combined with stops as short as 20s or as long as 20 hours or more.

In addition, cable tension and load on the car can fluctuate widely. Installations vary greatly as well, from low-rise three to four story buildings, through mid-size structures up to 20 stories and then up to skyscrapers. And within those height zones, the actual placement, working conditions, and demands differ enormously.

Give us programming power, without complexity
Customers working with elevator manufacture and service have made it clear that they would like to see improvements in elevator drives. The new elevator safety standards EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, as well as the VDI-4707 requirements for energy efficiency, are pushing people to look for upgraded drive solutions. The previous-generation has simply become out-dated. But the standards are just part of the motivation.

Greater flexibility for custom programming inside the drive is often mentioned as one of the top potential features that professionals would value most. This would allow them to easily tailor it for specific applications, while also protecting their service requirements.

In an ideal world, this additional programming power would be available in a standard off-the-shelf drive, thus providing simplicity and possibilities for differentiation at the same time.

Elevator professionals have common requests
If ABB were to list the most common market demands it receives, it would look like this:

  • Meet safety and energy standards
  • Smooth and silent operation
  • Programming flexibility
  • Robustness for large number of operating cycles
  • Simple operation and service.

Using the feedback, and experience of building application-specific functionality into drives, ABB has developed the new ACL30 drive especially for elevators. It’s designed from the start with high programming flexibility so it can safely and quietly control almost any elevator, while still being simple enough to be easily serviced in the field. The result combines off-the-shelf simplicity with powerful programming to meet the most demanding applications.

So now, with ABB customers can take elevators to the next level.

The new ACL30 elevator drive is a reliable choice for many types of new elevator installations and modernisation of older elevators. The drive works seamlessly with all motor types and includes excellent tuning possibilities for the quietest, safest, most efficient and most comfortable passenger experience without vibration and jerks. Low power consumption helps you fulfil the latest energy efficiency classifications, and selecting a regenerative drive option lets you reduce the elevator's carbon footprint and operating costs even further. Promising, smoothness, quietness, flexibility and safety, customers know that everything counts when selecting elevator control.

Elevator types on offer:

  • Low- and mid-rise elevators
  • Elevators with or without a machine room
  • Gearless and geared elevators
  • New installs and retrofits of older elevators.


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