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Demand for Elevators is Slowing in China

elevator market ChinaTwo-thirds of all elevators are sold in China. The demand for elevators is declining in the country due to changes in demographics, and it is possible that it may never return to the level where it was at its peak.

Chinese elevator demand peaked at 600,000 units last year, but it may fall to 500,000 next year if predictions turn out to be correct. This is due to a surplus of apartments and a slowdown in the movement of people to large cities.

After the projected decline, the market may stabilize, but demand might never rebound. Elevator makers will need to adjust their output based on demand, and smaller manufacturers may be forced to go out of business.

The decline in Chinese demand is the greatest threat facing elevator makers. Real estate investment is also declining in China and is relying heavily on government stimulus. Buildings in China have been getting taller and taller, with the title of the tallest building in the country changing hands several times over the past 20 years. China is headed for its slowest economic growth in 25 years.

In response to the slowdown in the Chinese elevator market, Otis Elevator is increasing its investment in Japan. Otis plans to add about 20 engineers to its team in Shibayama, which currently has 35 or 40 people. The engineers will work on cutting-edge elevators that will have sensors and remote monitoring that can read signals from guests’ cell phones and take them to the floors where their hotel rooms are located.

Falkirk Wheel Boat Lift Is an Engineering Marvel

Falkirk Wheel boat liftThe Falkirk Wheel is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal in central Scotland. It was opened by Queen Elizabeth II during her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and was named after the nearby town of Falkirk. It is the only rotating boat lift in the world and one of only two boat lifts in the United Kingdom.

The Falkirk Wheel was built as part of the Millennium Link project to reconnect the canals for the first time since the 1930s. Planners wanted to create a dramatic 21st century landmark.

The Lotteries Act 1993 raised funds that the Millennium Commission used for good causes in the public interest. The commission provided 42 percent of the money needed for the project. The remaining funds came from British Waterways, seven local councils, Scottish Enterprise, the European Regional Development Fund, and private donations.

The wheel was designed to last for at least 120 years. It was constructed at the Butterley Engineering plant in Ripley, Derbyshire and then transported and reassembled in Falkirk.

The wheel lifts boats 24 meters, but they must go through a pair of locks to raise them an additional 11 meters to the Union Canal. The wheel has a diameter of 35 meters. Two opposing arms extend 15 meters beyond the central axle. The arms are in the shape of a Celtic-inspired, double-headed axe.

Two diametrically-opposed water-filled caissons are located between the ends of the arms. The caissons always carry a combined weight of 500 tonnes in water and boats. A computer control system regulates the water levels on each side. The caissons can hold up to four 20-meter-long canal boats.

The machinery that drives the wheel is located in the aqueduct’s final pillar. The transformers are on the ground floor. A standby generator and switchgear are on the first floor in case the main power supply fails. A pair of hydraulic pumps that drive the hydraulic motors are located on the ground floor. Ten hydraulic motors supply power to the axle and double as brakes. A 100:1 gear system is connected to each motor to reduce the rotation speed.

A gearing system causes the caissons to turn at the correct speed and to stay correctly balanced. The ends of the caissons are supported on small wheels that run on rails on the inside face of the holes at the ends of the arms. The large central gear is loosely fitted over the axle at the end with the machine room and held in place to keep it from rotating.

Two smaller gears are fixed to each of the wheel’s arms at the end with the machine room. The motors rotate the central axle, the arms swing, the small gears engage the central gear, and the smaller gears rotate at a faster speed than the wheel in the same direction. The smaller gears engage large ring gears at the ends of the caissons and turn them at the same speed as the wheel but in the other direction. This movement cancels the arms’ rotation and keeps the caissons stable and completely level.

Since the load changes as the wheel rotates in opposite directions, some sections of the lift experience total stress reversals. The sections were bolted rather than welded to avoid fatigue and cracks.

A visitor center is located near the lower basin. Visitors can take boat trips approximately every hour. About 400,000 people visit the Falkirk Wheel every year.

Outdoor Elevator Connects Medieval and Modern Parts of Spanish Town

outdoor elevator Gironella SpainArchitect Carles Enrich recently completed construction of a 20-meter elevator on the right bank of the Llobregat River in Gironella, a town in Catalonia, Spain. The elevator connects the river to the medieval castle located above it.

Enrich designed the elevator to improve accessibility between the town’s old and new districts. Gironella’s old town and modern urban area are divided by the river. Before the elevator was constructed, residents and visitors could only gain access to the old town by climbing a steep and narrow staircase. The area has narrow and cobbled streets that were difficult for many residents to navigate.

The 20-meter vertical distance between the old and new parts of the town has created a social fracture, according to Enrich. The elevated historic center of the town was becoming depopulated. Enrich wanted to increase use of the old town and prevent social exclusion. He hopes the elevator will encourage more people to visit the castle at the top of the cliff and the public square at the bottom.

The architect wanted to create a structure that would become a part of the town’s history. He constructed the elevator with a combination of masonry, steel, and glass next to the side of the cliff.

The top 16 meters of the elevator are enclosed on three sides in a brick lattice with small circular openings that allow in light and ventilation, allow passengers to see the red clay surface, and create an interesting play of light. The bottom eight meters have a glazed enclosure that captures the surrounding context.

Japanese Company Says It Will Create Space Elevator by 2050

Obayashi Corporation space elevatorJapanese construction firm Obayashi Corporation is exploring space travel. The company announced two years ago that it believes it can build an elevator to space and have it up and running by 2050.

The company said its space elevator would be able to rise 96,000 kilometers into space. Space is designated as the area beyond the Karman line, which is at an altitude of 100 kilometers above the Earth. The International Space Station is at an altitude of 330 kilometers, and the moon is located 384,400 kilometers from the Earth.

Obayashi Corporation says its space elevator would use robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors, or maglev technology. This is the same system used in high-speed trains in Asia and Europe. The space elevator would be used to transport both people and cargo to a new space station.

Obayashi says it could achieve this by using carbon nanotechnology. Carbon nanotubes have a tensile strength nearly 100 times stronger than steel cable. Current technology can only make nanotubes three centimeters long, but the company predicts that it will be able to make long enough cables by 2030.

Teams across Japan are working on logistical issues associated with the elevator. A team at Kanagawa University is investigating how to ascend to different altitudes and how to stop the cars.

If the project succeeded, it could dramatically reduce the costs of carrying people and cargo into space. Transporting cargo via shuttle currently costs about $22,000 per kilogram. Obayashi predicts that the cost with its elevator would be around $200 per kilogram.

Other companies are also working on space elevator technology. Building a space elevator will probably require an international effort. The International Space Elevator Consortium is trying to coordinate efforts.

ThyssenKrupp Uses Microsoft Azure IoT to Improve Elevator Efficiency

ThyssenKrupp MAX elevator maintenanceIt is projected that 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. Buildings use 40 percent of the world’s energy, with elevators using 10 percent of that. Elevator downtime can cause problems for people who live and work in skyscrapers. Office workers spend a combined total of 16.6 years waiting for elevators annually.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator has introduced MAX, a predictive and preemptive service solution. It uses Microsoft Azure’s internet of things to improve transportation in buildings and to save time for elevator maintenance staff. The technology uses Azure’s internet of things technology to tell service technicians when repairs are needed and when elevator components need to be replaced.

ThyssenKrupp developed MAX to reduce elevator downtime related to maintenance and to transform the elevator maintenance process. The company’s goal was to detect maintenance issues early so that they could be addressed proactively and elevators could continue running as much as possible.

Data are collected from millions of ThyssenKrupp elevators around the world and sent to the Azure cloud platform. An algorithm calculates the remaining life of systems and components in each elevator. This enables ThyssenKrupp’s 20,000 global service engineers and technicians to tell building owners in advance when repairs are needed or components need to be replaced. ThyssenKrupp expects that this will improve elevator efficiency by requiring fewer elevators to be put out of service.

MAX is being introduced across the United States and Europe. ThyssenKrupp expects the new technology to reduce downtime for elevators by 50 percent.

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