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Differing Perspectives at the European Lift Congress Heilbronn 2018

Global standards and technology are main points of discussion during biannual event.

Under the theme “Toward New Worlds,” the European Lift Congress Heilbronn 2018 plotted out new territory. The meeting was held at a new locale, Villingen, Germany; new, unified standards were addressed; and new technologies, from digitalization to multidirectional lift cars, were discussed during the two-day event.


Georg Clauss, CEO of organizer Technical Academy Heilbronn, welcomed the 150 participants from 22 countries to the congress, which was held on October 16-17. Wolfram Vogel, congress chairman, then thanked thyssenkrupp officials for their arrangements at the company’s test tower in nearby Rottweil and promised the gathering a highlight of the congress — a promise that he kept (see sidebar). In a comment to ELEVATOR WORLD, Vogel stated that all new technologies within rising cities are based on Industry 4.0 and emphasized that they will only be realized through even more-intensive education.

The topics of the congress were presented as discussion points framed in a worldwide perspective.


The first worldwide perspective was a discussion on international standardization, presented by Esfandiar Gharibaan, vice president, codes, for KONE and chairman of CEN/TC 10. Gharibaan opened with some facts about the elevator market with its main driver, urbanization, being strongest in the Asia Pacificregion. The CEN/TC 10 EN 81-20 standard has a worldwide application of varying degrees, he said, and provides a strong basis for a global standard. A roadmap to an International Organization for Standardization(ISO)standard is underway, he said, adding it will be realized with ISO/TC 178 in three steps:

  1. Adopting EN 81-20/-50 as identical to ISO 8100-1/-2 and developing ISO/TS 8100-3 to address the differences with North American and Japanese standardswith publicationinDecember 2018/January 2019
  2. Revising ISO 8100-1/-2 and EN 81-20/-50 together to become EN ISO 8100-1/-2with publication of EN ISO 8100-1/-2in2021
  3. When either ISO 8100-1/-2 or North American and Japanese standards are revised, aligning the requirements to remove the differences among these standards

Gharibaan stressed that the publication of ISO 8100-1/-2 is a very important step, as it provides great possibilities for safety and technical harmonization for lifts around the world. He made a personal appeal that all parties consider the opportunities provided by these new global ISO standards and promoted their adoption as national standards.


Several speakers dealt with new perspectives of digitalization in the vertical-transportation (VT) business. Audience members were unanimously of the opinion that this is the most important topic for the industry now, though some questioned if the industry is ready for it.

Roberto Zappa, the new president of the European Lift Association, looked at the growth of cities, their buildings and their inhabitants, noting the worldwide increases in urbanization. He said the expanding Internet of Things is raising expectations of users, and that building information modeling (BIM) is one information-technology (IT) tool helping to fulfill urban needs.

Andreas Fleischmann of elevator BIM software provider DigiPara of Germany quoted questions customers are increasingly raising with elevator producers: “Are you ready for BIM?" "Can you deliver as BIM?" "Can you send a BIM model?” In BIM, all work on a building during planning, construction and operation, can be viewed in a virtual model, and product data can be added from a standardized 3D library. The likely standard will be the British Standards Institute PAS 1192.

Volker Zapf of Schindler discussed his company’s use of immersive virtual reality (IVR) in early product development, training and marketing, with the ultimate focus on feasibility, installation and maintenance. Zapf said Schindler’s IVR project involves up to six engineers working together in a cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE), a specially equipped room that immerses users in virtual reality. Schindler plans to establish other CAVEs in its Indian and Chinese headquarters, as well as an exhibit virtual elevator. Remaining on the topic, Eckhart Wittstock of AVARE Network introduced the Virtual Reality Lab, its infrastructure and work at Chemnitz University.

Tim Ebeling of Henning spoke next on proactive maintenance for elevators, which means two things: repairs occur prior to a breakdown, and improvements are made to the system. This, said Ebeling, is going beyond predictive maintenance. Proactive maintenance is based on condition monitoring, with mainly cloud-based data analysis; e.g., using Henning’s WEARwatcher System. Proactive maintenance will change the business model of most elevator companies during the next three to five years, Ebeling said, because it will be done by outside IT providers.

Teppo Voutilainen of KONE spoke on advanced people-flow solutions in smart buildings, noting these systems must be flexible and upgradeable to prevent congestion, help with navigation and give timely information. They will be based on a digital platform with data collected from technology, building management, partners, user equipment and maintenance operations.

Sachar Paulus of Paulus Consulting spoke on IT security issues. He warned that keeping the “bad guys” out is difficult. What can happen in the worst case? Quality and compliance issues, espionage, sabotage and terrorism. IT tools are helping reduce these security problems, he said, adding that regulations and certifications pave the way.

New Technologies

Julian Olley of Ove Arup considered the failure risks and rewards of three new technologies — KONE UltraRope (low risk), and thyssenkrupp’s TWIN (medium risk) and MULTI (high risk) — from the perspective of an independent consultant. Olley said technical risks exist but are manageable, but legal barriers are sometimes unsurmountable. Still, he noted, some buildings would be impossible without new technologies. Then, Wolfgang Scheunemann of Pfeifer Drako gave information on new steel-wire ropes for low-, mid- and high-rise elevators, and pointed out the most-suitable choice for a given elevator.

Markus Jetter of thyssenkrupp Elevator Innovation Germany prepared participants for an excursion to the test tower in Rottweil by presenting MULTI. Javier Sesma of thyssenkrupp Elevator Innovation Spain looked at horizontal motion from a different perspective: escalators and moving walks connecting people and places in a car-free environment. New products offer reduced or pitless applications, modifiable length and speeds up to three times as fast.

Lars Gustavsson of Orona spoke on energy-efficiency technology, citing the company’s “Zero-Energy Buildings (ZEB),” which go beyond the EU mandate of “Nearly ZEB” for new buildings. He discussed new zero-net-energy elevators his company has developed.

The promised highlight of the congress took place the afternoon of the first day, when participants were taken to the thyssenkrupp test tower in Rottweil. This was followed by the traditional first evening congress dinner. A female perspective came up during the second Women in the Lift Industry in Europe Communal Coffee during the first coffee break on the second day.

The next European Lift Congress Heilbronn will be held in autumn 2020 and return to Heilbronn.

Looking Up and Down: The thyssenkrupp Rottweil Test Tower

As they approached by buses, participants in the European Lift Conference Heilbronn 2018 saw a 246-m-tall tower wrapped in 17,000 m2of fiberglass cladding that protects the structure from sun and wind. As they were welcomed to the thyssenkrupp test tower in Rottweil, Germany, the attendees were broken up into groups, then led to several stations on different floors. Machines, dampers, shafts and elevators installed in the 12 shafts for TWIN units (two cabins in one shaft with 38 ropes), panoramic and fire-service lifts.

The most detailed technical explanations were reserved for the tower’s MULTI units. The tower contains three 80-m MULTI shafts. The MULTI cabins are a lightweight design with a payload of 630 kg (eight passengers), an overall car weight of 1,050 kg and travel speed of 5-6 mps. The car’s dimensions are 1,600 mm wide, 1,400 mm deep and 2,200 mm tall; the door is 1,100 mm wide and 2,200 mm tall. The car provides passenger entertainment or information, such as travel routes and direction of travel.

The MULTI installation contributes to product development concerning, for example, stop and go of the cabin, including the multilevel braking system used for horizontal transportation. MULTI’s linear drive operates on magnetic principles, but the magnetic field does not pose a health danger, according to all relevant certifications. The elevator regenerates power but still uses more energy than a conventional drive. The system is connected to the building’s energy-management system and employs predictive and preemptive maintenance. R&D for the system uses virtual reality based on BIM. The first MULTI in commercial use is expected to become operational in 2021, in the Eastside Gallery in Berlin.

Participants in the test-tower tour were treated to the view from an observation platform on floor 32, at the 232-m mark. In its first year of operation, more than 120,000 guests have viewed the far-away Alps and looked down on a chimney that, in earlier times, was invariably only seen by looking up.

Undine Stricker-Berghoffwas the managing director of VFA-Interlift e.V. in Hamburg, Germany. She studied Mechanical Engineering at Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany, and, immediately after graduation, worked as an energy consultant for ERPAG in Lugano, Switzerland. Prior to joining VFA-Interlift, Stricker-Berghoff worked for VDI, the Association of German Engineers in Düsseldorf, Germany, as secretary for Building Services and was in charge of the VDI-Guideline department. She also served one term as dirctor general for the Lübeck Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Since 2005, she has been working as a coach and consultant for management and marketing in her own engineering office, ProEconomy, mainly for energy- and building-services companies.