GreenEfficient® manages elevators by providing maintenance and repair of elevators and other vertical lift programs. Elevators don’t just go up and down anymore.
Ever since Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator in 1854, elevators, or lifts, have been a common feature of multi-story buildings. Over time the technology has evolved and improved, but the concept has basically remained the same – elevators go up and elevators come down.
Now, ThyssenKrupp, a world leader in elevator production, is changing the way elevators operate. The company’s new Magnetic Elevator System is like something out of a science fiction movie, trading cables for powerful magnets that can move the cabin vertically like traditional elevators. However, the revolutionary magnetic system allows the cabin to move horizontally as well, or even on an incline.
According to Wired.com, the ThyssenKrupp New Magnetic Elevator System uses existing magnetic technology, the type used in some train systems. First introduced in 2014, the cable-free magnetic coils alternately propel and repel the cabins up, down and sideways. Horizontal movement is achieved with horizontal shafts. The elevators move in a continuous loop, stopping via a multi-level braking system. The cabins are also be lighter than conventional cabins by as much as 50 percent due to the use of lightweight materials
If the technology catches on, this magnetic elevator revolution could radically alter the way that architects design the buildings of the future. Up until now, mid-rise and high-rise buildings have been designed around the elevator shafts. By running multiple cabins on the same track, the ThyssenKrupp New Magnetic Elevator System removes this limitation. Also, fewer elevator shafts and smaller shafts will accommodate less lifting equipment resulting in more overall usable space in each building.
Conventional cable elevators have vertical limitations. According to Popular Science, conventional elevator height maxes out at around 2,000 feet. Beyond that, the steel cables needed to lift the car become too heavy. Patrick Bass, CEO of ThyssenKrupp North America, Inc. says that the ThyssenKrupp New Magnetic Elevator System also removes these height limitations.
“In the world’s tallest building, the 2,722-foot tall Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the ground elevators only go as high as 1,654 feet. To gain access to the top floor, people must transfer to a second set of elevators located at the top of the building.” Bass says that a magnetic elevator could theoretically reach a height of two miles.
In addition, ThyssenKrupp’s New Magnetic Elevator System gives architects the capacity to design wider buildings which utilize the elevators as ‘mini-trains’ which would transport riders from one end of a building to another before switching to a vertical ascent.
Andreas Schierenbeck, chief executive of ThyssenKrupp Elevator says that these magnetic elevators will increase the number of elevators per building and drastically reduce wait times for those who work in high rises. Schierenbeck tells Business Insider that each year, “New York City office workers spend a cumulative amount of 16.6 years waiting for elevators, and 5.9 years in the elevators…All this means that passengers will have to wait just 15 to 30 seconds for the next available lift.”
As is the case with any new technology, the cost for the first magnetic elevator might be higher than conventional cable systems. Yet as systems like the ThyssenKrupp New Magnetic Elevator System are more widely used, the cost will drop, making it more feasible to install these systems in new commercial structures.
ThyssenKrupp is currently working to complete a 246 meter test tower in Rottweil, Germany. The tower will test the magnetic elevators, moving cabins both horizontally and vertically through a variety of shafts. Until testing is complete and the first magnetic elevator systems are installed, we will have to be content to dream of elevators that move from side to side as well as up and down while we wait for the future technology to arrive.