A Shift in Focus
Exiting the race to develop the world’s fastest elevator, Toshiba is focusing on greater capacity to fulfill growing demand from across Asia.
Until being surpassed by the high-speed elevators in Shanghai Tower (ELEVATOR WORLD, July 2013), Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems’ two elevators in Taipei 101 had been the world’s fastest elevators in commercial operation, boasting an upper speed of 1,010 mpm, since 2004. That equates to 60 kph, equivalent to some maximum legal road speeds for cars in Japan. Toshiba Elevator President and CEO Kazunori Matsubara said the company is not aiming to develop elevators “with a speed of 1,300 and 1,400 mpm.”
Instead, Toshiba will focus on mass transit, rather than high speed, he added. One reason for bowing out of the race is because companies are reaching inherent limits to the speed at which elevators can travel. Matsubara continued:
“The company aims to develop elevators that can hold 100 people by reducing the size of parts, while increasing their strength and durability, which is the need of the hour. Demand from massive buildings being built across Asia is expected.”
Ever-taller buildings require ever-faster elevators, but skyscraper heights pose the problem of cables being unable to support their own weight. If cables are made thicker to enhance their strength, it becomes more difficult for the machines to hoist loads. It is believed that elevators cannot exceed a speed of 1,300 mpm.
Toshiba plans to develop large-capacity elevators at its facility in Fuchu, western Tokyo. The company has developed an elevator that can accommodate 90 people, already in operation at the Izumi Garden Tower office building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
Sumitomo Fudosan Roppongi Grand Tower
At Sumitomo Fudosan Roppongi Grand Tower, a new 45-story landmark office building adjacent to Izumi Garden Tower, Toshiba completed installation of four of Japan’s largest passenger elevators in October 2016. The size of each cabin is 3.35 m wide X 3.15 m deep (approximately 10.55 m2). Each can accommodate 90 people with a maximum capacity of 5,900 kg at the speed of 5 mps. They travel between the first and 29th floors; from the top floor, passengers can switch to the other elevators according to their destination floors.
These units, dubbed “largest capacity and high speed” elevators, are driven by high-power-output permanent-magnet synchronous motors and controlled by a twin-inverter motor-control system. For them to stop safely during an emergency, the safety devices are fixed at both the top and bottom of the elevator. (For normal elevators, safety devices are only fixed at the bottom of the car.) They are also equipped with prevention devices for falling objects.
Two of the largest capacity and high speed elevators are designed with walls each made of a large piece of glass from waist height to the ceiling. Additionally, their doors are made from glass to create a spacious, visible riding experience for passengers.