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Yes, you read that right. I assert we will need to miniaturize our products’ burden on buildings while having bigger experiences and faster delivery times which requires stronger materials. 

Remember Ironman’s super-cool digital screens inside his ocean-side lair? Well today, thyssenkrupp announced that our service technicians will use HoloLens technology in its elevator service operations worldwide.

There is no getting around it. If your building is two stories or hundreds of feet, you are going to need an elevator. You have to meet the American Disabilities Act codes but what you don’t need is a complicated elevator system to travel just a few feet.

The term “smart city” can be open to interpretation. Here are a few prerequisites established a few years ago.  A smart city uses technologies to be more intelligent and efficient when using resources.

thyssenkrupp is currently putting the finishing touches on the installation of 30 elevators and 2 escalators that will serve 52 floors at River Point, a new office tower located on a prime piece of property overlooking the Chicago River.


Yes, you read that right. I assert we will need to miniaturize our products’ burden on buildings while having bigger experiences and faster delivery times which requires stronger materials. 

This need isn’t something we arbitrarily imposed on ourselves; it’s a necessity to support the undeniable global megatrend of urbanization. The reality is, buildings are growing taller and taller to accommodate this trend and the vertical transportation industry must keep up. 

As more and more people flock to cities our industry becomes faced with a swelling issue: how do we move more people with less space at a faster pace?  The space I’m referring to is the physical footprint of the elevator or escalator. This critical real estate, which could support the livelihood of city tenants, is being traded to support the flow of passengers with destinations ever further upward. 


There are a number of needs of the riding public; first and foremost, of course, is safety.  Next is the notion of experience - we want more and we want it to adapt to our personal situation. If we are in a hurry, we don’t want to “waste” time in an elevator. Can we use those few minutes to research a good restaurant, return email or post a status.  This isn’t saying elevators should slow down, quite the contrary; we simply have a desire to be engaged at all times in a big and meaningful way (so please stop the spam ads). The question is who will make the “Pokemon Go” version of an elevator experience?


Time is money and modern time is measurable to the sub second (just think about the click delay brought to you by slow internet). People’s schedules are regularly tracked and wasted time is attacked with ruthless effort.  For us elevator makers, we need to transport more people in the same size shaft. We have some options: increase the speed of each elevator car, increase the number of elevator cars available to transport passengers…or both.  We have a new, revolutionary, product called MULTI and the tried and true TWIN elevator system. The primary goal of these products is move more people in a shorter period of time while requiring less space in the building. 

MULTI works by increasing the number of cars in a shaft so that more of the vertical shaft can be used at a given time to move passengers. Two shafts work in conjunction with a shaft exchanger. One shaft moves the cars upwards while the other shaft moves the cars downwards. TWIN’s two elevator cabs move independently in one elevator shaft


The key to intelligent product design is equated to knowing that you don’t know what you don’t know. It sounds conflicting but it is another way of saying that a thorough assessment of the system and the interaction of its components is required to determine overall performance. 

Well, product development engineers are smart (ours the smartest of course) but they cannot predict every single scenario or outcome possible. So just in case, we incorporate extras into the design, like extra height in a beam, extra ropes to support the cab, extra diameter in the pulley guiding the ropes. Then there is extra time to allow the doors to perform, extra service checks to ensure good health. You get the idea.

We accommodate for the extras based on the material used. We can change the size of our components by using stronger materials…increasing the ability of a material to withstand a force. This is also known as the strength-to-weight ratio or specific strength. We can also affect the strength- to- weight ratio of a design by using additive manufacturing to make lighter components and by using computer algorithms to selectively place material where it is absolutely necessary and then fusing it together.

With the help of smarter materials and smarter manufacturing methods, we can look to satisfy the thirst for ever higher builds!  Until next time…


Michael Bray is the senior field innovation manager, RIC Atlanta. Email him at michael.bray@thyssenkrupp.com


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