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3rd Symposium on Lift and Escalator Technologies

26-27 September 2013

The 3rd Symposium on Lift and Escalator Technologies was held in the splendid surroundings of Highgate House Hotel on the outskirts of Northampton, the traditional home of lift engineering in the UK. The event was fully booked with delegates coming from all corners of the globe.

It was inevitable that handling capacity would be a topic of discussion but in the courtyard delegates were greeted by a former London Transport RML (that’s a bus and not an incorrectly spelt lift!). The RML is the high capacity version of the Routemaster designed for the major central London routes. The extra capacity was obtained by adding a 2ft 4in bay in the centre of the body and is instantly recognizable due to the square windows that rather look like an afterthought (which, of course, they were to overcome handling capacity problems experienced by the shorter RM Routemasters). The traditional surroundings also came with an original red telephone box.

The venue had been chosen by the organizing committee for a number of reasons, including its location and facilities, which turned out to be superb with the transition of presentations being seamless. I have to say that the food was good too and every member of the hotel team did everything they could and contributed to a very successful event.

After registration and coffee on the first day Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Dean of the School of Science and Technology, The University of Northampton welcomed the delegates. We then went straight into session 1 which dealt with passenger comfort. The session, chaired by David Cooper, was opened by Dr Rory Smith giving a fascinating talk about “lift cabin ventilation, code requirements and experimental results” based on practical tests undertaken in the Middle East.  The second paper was presented by Professor Stefan Kaczmarczyk and looked at vibration problems in lift and escalator systems and the range of analysis techniques available and mitigation strategies to overcome vibration problems. Both speakers provoked questions from the audience about these two important subjects which most of us would have experienced in day to day life in the lift industry.

After coffee Adam Scott took the Chair for a session on traffic design. Marja-Liisa Siikonen gave the first paper looking specifically at “traffic patterns in hotels and residential buildings”, again, a subject that designers face regularly in the lift industry. This was followed by Rosa Basagoiti who presented a multi author paper about “passenger flow pattern learning based on trip counting in elevator systems combined with real time information”. Another paper that provoked discussion about the intricacies of data gathering. The final paper before lunch was presented by Stefan Gerstenmeyer and was entitled “a review of waiting time, journey time and quality of service”. This paper gave a very interesting overview of research into queuing and the perception of it.

The first afternoon session on day one was chaired by Dr Gina Barney and continued the theme of traffic design. The first paper was presented by Dr Lutfi Al-Sharif and was entitled “Converting the user requirements into an elevator traffic design: the HARint Space”. This was another multi authored paper and again brought many questions from the floor. The second paper was presented by Len Halsey entitled “Lift design for modern office buildings; what is the market looking for?” and looked at the real world experience of a major London developer looking to maximize their investment and give their tenants a design that met their needs whilst keeping accommodation options open for the future. It gave food for thought on occupancy rates as they are looking for a ratio of 1 in 8 with no allowance for absenteeism. Once again the discussion continued over coffee before the final session of day 1 which was chaired by Dr Rory Smith.

The opening paper of this session was entitled “modeling of simulation of the dynamic behavior of elevator systems” and was presented by Seyed Mirhadizadeh. The second paper continued the theme of simulation and was entitled “modeling and simulation of a high rise elevator system to predict the dynamic interactions between its components” and was presented by Rafael Sanchez Crespo on behalf of its authors.

Following a full day delegates continued their discussions before the gala dinner which was held in the appropriately named Coote Room. It was a good chance for delegates to socialize with each other and meet new colleagues as well as catch up with old friends. During the dinner Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Northampton, acknowledged the unique contribution the Lift Industry has made to the success of the conference series.  Dr Gina Barney was acknowledged for her work in the industry over many years which have culminated in her receiving Honorary Fellowship of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers. Elizabeth Evans was also acknowledged for the incredible amount of work that she had put into organizing the Symposium as without her attention to detail it most certainly would not be the event that it is.

The second day opened with David Cooper giving a presentation about the Emirates Airline cable car system in London and discussing the very different ways the cableways and lift industries are regulated, standards applied and qualifications required. Following this Alberto Pello presented a paper entitled “Application of linear motor technology for variable speed passenger transportation systems” which looked at matters such as high speed movement of passengers on moving walks over significant distances. The final paper of the opening session was given by Nick Mellor who discussed the performance of non-linear energy accumulation buffers. The paper promoted discussion about the different performances of buffers in different environmental conditions.

After the coffee break the sixth session of the symposium was chaired by Marja-Liisa Siikonen and focused on traffic design. Dr Richard Peters presented the opening paper entitled “The application of simulation to traffic design and dispatcher testing”. This was followed by Professor Lutfi Al-Sharif and a paper entitled “Derivation of an elevator round trip time formula under up peak traffic for the case of four special conditions”. The final paper of the session was presented by Theresa Christy and looked into common misconceptions regarding elevator traffic simulations. An interesting paper which highlighted the common claims that we have all heard that are myths that found their way into the annuls of lift engineering history.

The session closed for lunch and we all gathered promptly again afterwards for the final session which looked at standards. The session was chaired by Dr Richard Peters and the opening paper came from Ian Jones who chairs the UK’s BSI MHE/4 committee. I have to confess to having been able to listen to another few hours of Ian’s highlights into the many changes that will befall the industry when EN81-20 and EN81-50 replace the aging EN81-1 and EN81-2 standards. All I can say is consultant, contractor and supplier beware – there will be changes ahead and if you want my advice; be a good scout and “be prepared!” The final paper was jointly presented by Dr Gina Barney and Ana-Maria Lorentea and looked at “simplified energy calculations for lifts based on ISO/DSO 25745-2”. Ana-Maria is a PhD student looking at energy consumption with respect to lifts and there is a lot of good information coming from this research.

Professor Stefan Kaczmarczyk, Chair of the Postgraduate Field of Lift Engineering, Department of Engineering and Technology, School of Science and Technology, The University of Northampton, commented: The papers presented at the Symposium covered a broad range of topics relevant to the theory and practice in the field of elevator and escalator technology. The importance of technical issues concerning structural integrity, efficiency, safety and reliability of vertical transportation systems addressed during the proceedings cannot be overestimated. Acknowledging the international research interests within the event’s area the Symposium has enabled new connections between academic and industry experts across the disciplines relevant to elevator and escalator technologies.

Dr Richard Peters of The CIBSE Lifts Group and Managing Director of Peters Research Ltd commented: feedback from this year’s Symposium has been unanimous in praising the speakers, organisation and venue.  We are very grateful to all those who took part, and are looking forward to receiving speaker abstracts for next year via www.liftsymposium.org

For me personally the 2012 Symposium was a great event. I had the great pleasure of writing that event up for the trade press as well but 2013 has moved the Symposium into a higher level. The decision to make it two days instead of one and to take the brave decision to move it from its spiritual home at the University of Northampton to the Highgate House Hotel which gives the comfort of having accommodation to support the event was in my opinion a good decision.
There were a number of other positives that came from the two day event as well in that we saw delegates travel from all around the globe to be there, we saw the enthusiasm and dedication of a number of research students and we also got to hear that the University of Northampton is in the running for a prestigious award.

Dr Jonathan Adams wrapped up the event and encouraged us to think about the future of our industry and to promote engineering as a career.

Last year I made mention of the fact that everyone stayed to the end and conversation continued after proceedings had closed and this year was no exception. The success of the event is such that we are able to announce that the 2014 Symposium will be held on 25th and 26th September. Another piece of advice! Book early as we had to turn last minute applicants away this year – if we know you are coming early enough we have time to adjust and accommodate.

Dave Cooper