Lift me up

Smart buildings can be referred to by a multitude of names including ‘automated buildings’, ‘intelligent buildings’ or buildings that incorporate smart technology. A smart building is any structure that uses automated processes to automatically control the building’s operations including heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and other systems. These buildings typically use sensors, actuators, and microprocessors, to collect and manage data according to a building’s functions and services.

An increase in the data available impacts on how and why decisions are made for all areas of a building’s performance. Fixing issues before they become detrimental to efficiency can positively impact upon energy usage. The avoidance of unnecessary or multiple visits by engineers with the use of remote monitoring and configuration can also have a positive impact on carbon footprints and have issues fixed faster.

With access to real-time data and alerts, Facilities Managers are able to save time previously spent visually checking every system fundamental to the running of their buildings. The infrastructure in a smart building allows building owners, operators and facility managers to improve asset reliability and performance. All buildings, no matter the age, can have smart features installed but there is one area that many buildings don’t consider.

Smart buildings and lifts
Lifts are huge pieces of machinery within buildings and are often the least well-monitored. If they go out of service, it can cause major issues for those that rely on lifts in buildings of any size. A smart lift does not mean a new lift. With ever-improving technology it is possible to retrofit certain systems and have the data that you need at your fingertips without a disruptive and expensive project to install new lifts.

Solutions are often designed to client needs too, meaning there’s no need for a large outlay to acquire data that might be useful to one particular building owner, making it a cost-effective way to upgrade lift systems. Some of the most often asked for levels of data from FMs and building mangers that these systems can supply are:

Real time remote monitoring
Sensors located within the lift shaft and on the lift car can collect data and provide real time monitoring of the performance. This can provide significant value to the lift maintenance company and building management. Providing more insight into how the lifts are running from a remote location, saving time checking each individual building, especially if there are a lot of buildings to manage.

This means one less concern, knowing that problems with their lifts will be detected early and dealt with swiftly.

Remote testing
There are many ways that potential issues can dealt with quickly for example by remotely testing lifts before busy periods, checking that emergency telephones are functioning correctly and if light curtains on the doors are fully operational.

Testing can be also be scheduled, meaning if a building has a high reliability on a lift, tests can be scheduled at the start of every day. One building owner that required a lift for deliveries at 6am scheduled a lift test every day at 4am to check the lift was operational. If it was not then a notification would alert the correct person who could arrange for an engineer to attend and to possibly make the delivery slot later. Saving all parties possible wasted time.

There are also other uses for technology to keep lifts running successfully for example pit flood sensors to make sure that flooding is caught quickly and detection of abnormalities with how the lift is moving can indicate potential future issues.

Smart technology is there to help make people’s lives easier. Making lifts ‘smart’ helps Facility Managers or Building Managers through a variety of ways, including:

Cost savings
Lifts that go down for unscheduled maintenance are hugely inconvenient to building users and can catch maintenance personnel off guard. This results in frustration and can make some areas inaccessible to building users. With an effective monitoring solution, facilities managers can keep a close eye on the operational efficiency of the lifts.

This level of data can also mean if you find that one lift is being used less than another then the frequency the lesser used lift needs to be serviced could be reduced, in line with health and safety of course but this data helps those who manage buildings monitor their maintenance costs more closely.

Wasted time
The largest inconvenience for 11those fixing them is when a lift is ‘running on arrival’. This means that someone in the lift has pressed the emergency button and an engineer then needs to attend as a matter of urgency. If they arrive and the lift is actually working, then this is noted as ‘running on arrival’. It leads to wasted time for those that had to organise the engineer, along with the engineer themselves and for all those customers who couldn’t use the convenient lift system whilst it was out of action.

Increased uptime for lift systems
Remote testing and monitoring ultimately helps to maintain up-time, to optimise people movement through the building and ensure that this important accessibility route is available for building users.

The increased ability to monitor systems that were previously ‘blind’ means the prevalence of smart technology in the commercial setting is continuing to rise. Smaller companies who were also slower at adopting these technologies too due to cost are beginning to reap the reward as smart systems become more affordable. So, if you manage a building it’s worth doing your research on what data might be available to you to make day to day management easier.

Matt Davies is Market Insight and Innovation Manager at Avire, a global leader in communications, connectivity and monitoring solutions for lifts. Avire’s extensive industry knowledge and forward-thinking approach makes the technology perfect for keeping your lifts running safely. Avire products are installed in over four million buildings worldwide and Avire’s market-leading brands each hold their own unique histories and specialities.

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