Salt Lake City Airport Takes Off
Schindler tells your author about the importance of pitless moving walks and connection to the company’s IoT in providing VT solutions across the large facility.
photos courtesy of Salt Lake City International Airport
In August 2020, Schindler completed the installation of 126 units, including 65 elevators, 30 moving walks (four of which are shallow-pit [or pitless] moving walks) and 31 escalators, at the new Salt Lake City (SLC) International Airport. The contract also includes an additional 43 units that will be installed close to completion of the project’s next phase.
The installation is part of the airport’s US$4.1-billion redevelopment program. SLC is the 23rd-busiest airport in North America and the 85th-busiest in the world. More than 370 nonstop flights depart daily to 99 destinations. The new SLC International Airport is designed to accommodate 34 million passengers per year, replacing the five existing concourses with two new linear ones connected by a passenger tunnel.
There were three contracts for this job, and all were awarded to Schindler. The first was put out for bid in 2016 and awarded that September. The second was awarded in January of 2017 and the third in early 2018. Installation began in the first quarter of 2018 with the first set of moving walks and elevators. The elevators are Schindler 5500s, the escalators are Schindler 9300s, and the moving walks are Schindler 9500s, and are installed in the east and west bridges, gateway, parking garage and terminals.
This project is unique compared to other airport projects because SLC built a brand-new airport as opposed to renovating one. Mike Azzaro, vice president — Large Projects Division at Schindler, said the company was a top competitor for the project due to its extensive experience in airport projects around the U.S. (including LAX and LaGuardia), ability to provide pitless moving walks, and what Azzaro describes as a “humble willingness to be a design partner on complicated projects.”
Azzaro said he doesn’t approach projects with “preconceived notions of what right looks like.” For example, at SLC, contractors were not allowed to have any storage on the jobsite because it is an active airport, so they had to get creative and figure out solutions for bringing materials in daily while keeping pace with construction. Azzaro said Schindler asks a lot of questions about the needs of others, such as contractors, on their projects to discover their “pain points” and determine how they can help.
Like many complicated projects, the plans had to be changed a few times due to factors beyond anyone’s control, such as supply-chain challenges and a global pandemic, to name a few. “This was a long job with so many unique external factors at play. We were having to constantly overcome new challenges and reconfigure the recipe we were using for the project to be successful,” Azzaro said.
When the pandemic hit, the Schindler team was past the heavy lifting and mobilizing of materials and down to the last 10% of the project, which Azzaro said is the most challenging because it is the “finesse of the job” and when all the pieces (across a huge geography in this case) get connected. But they were able to make necessary adjustments and complete the project on schedule.
Pitless Moving Walks
Early communications showed that being able to provide a pitless moving walk was key to being considered for the project. Azzaro said that while it is becoming more of a trend to have a pitless moving walk, in the case of SLC, space limitations forced the need for this type of solution.
The installation at the airport included four Schindler 9500-20 Pitless Moving Walks located in the passenger boarding bridges, carrying passengers over the road that exits the airport from the parking garage. These shallow-pit moving walks can provide a more-than- 50% reduction in pit depth, or no pit at all.
Given the volume of the project, another challenge was ensuring that when Schindler handed everything over to the client, all the units were connected appropriately to the Schindler Ahead system. Schindler Ahead consists of an Internet of Things (IoT) platform and digital products portfolio, which the OEM states is the world’s first fully digital, closed-loop maintenance, monitoring and information system for connected elevators, escalators and moving walks that connects customers, passengers, equipment and service technicians. The system gives the client access to visibility of all the equipment, how it’s performing, the health of the units, how the equipment is functioning, uptime and downtown and when the units are down.
This was a long job with so many unique external factors at play. We were having to constantly overcome new challenges and reconfigure the recipe we were using for the project to be successful.Mike Azzaro, vice president – Large Projects Division at Schindler
Azzaro said of the system:
“Salt Lake City [airport] has a big footprint. When the moving walks don’t operate, it’s a huge inconvenience. Schindler Ahead allows us to reduce that impact by giving us greater visibility and getting things back up and running faster. That, ultimately, is a value proposition for the airport and their clients. This is the next generation of how airports operate and how equipment functions.”
Azzaro said he had never been to SLC before working on this project, but the city has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, especially now as people are leaving larger metropolitan areas, and he’s humbled by the thought of being involved in it:
“I’m not sure that we appreciated the development and the growth and what was going on in Salt Lake City. There’s a lot of good energy going into Salt Lake right now. I don’t think that was by coincidence. I think it’s a very intentional plan that maybe started with the airport to make it what it is today and where it’s going in the future. The airport is the gateway. It is how you drive tourism, how you drive people into your city, and it plays a vital role in a city’s growth and development.”
The project, which is being built in phases, crossed the first finish line in September 2020 when the first buildings opened to travelers. The second phase is set to be completed in 2024 but has been on hold due to the pandemic.
Architectural/engineering services for the redevelopment were provided by a team led by HOK. Construction managers for the program were: Concourse B: joint venture (JV) Austin Commercial and Okland Construction (AOJV), and Terminal and Concourse A: JV Holder Construction and Big-D Construction (HDJV).