San Antonio Hosts IAEC 2013 Annual Forum

IAEC attendees enjoying friendly conversation.

San Antonio gave the International Association of Elevator Consultants (IAEC) a warm welcome during its 2013 Annual Forum on April 29-May 2. As a native Texan, your reporter was familiar with the event’s locale — the Marriott Riverwalk, which, as its name states, is located on the Riverwalk, known for its ambience, food and shopping. The forum was well attended and featured a variety of educational presentations and meetings, exhibits and top-notch entertainment. 

The forum began with its annual board meeting and included discussions on expanding the industry’s continuing-education efforts, future forum schedules and locations, and plans for inviting more companies and consultants to attend future forums. Following the board meeting, attendees registered for the event, and vendors set up their displays. The first evening entailed the Opening Night Reception, complete with excellent food and friendly conversation. During the reception, attendees were able to participate in a silent auction for the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF), which raised US$2,375 for its Safe-T Rider© program. In addition, KONE sponsored a Riverwalk cruise for after the reception; unfortunately, it was cancelled due to severe weather.

The second day (April 30) began with breakfast and the Opening Welcome, where IAEC President Jay Popp thanked everyone in attendance and provided an overview of the educational sessions to be presented. Sheila Swett, incoming executive director, also welcomed attendees and introduced each presentation. Though many attended the presentations, the exhibits were held just next door and saw a steady stream of visitors.

The first educational session was delivered by KONE’s Brian Diviney and reviewed escalator replacement solutions. Diviney provided general escalator statistics and common issues with older equipment, and explained how to choose the best escalator solutions. Diviney provided detailed explanations of three escalator options: partial repair, rip out and replacement, and modernization. The presentation was well attended and included several illustrations of each solution. Diviney also gave attendees a list of important things to look for when considering escalator repairs or upgrades.

Following a short break, Sheila’s son, Daniel Swett, an elevator inspector and consultant, presented the next topic, “Bringing Today’s Technology to Consultants.” Swett explained the basics of cloud computing and how it can benefit the elevator industry by drastically reducing paperwork and improving organization. He also demonstrated two mobile apps, one of which he designed. Swett’s Project QEI app allows users to assign inspections, shows violations, collects signatures and updates reports. Swett then shifted his presentation into the need for companies to strengthen their web presence through such activities as blogging and advertising.

The next presentation, “Wind Stack Problems, a Thing of the Past,” was  delivered by Chris Marshall of      SMARTORK, Inc. Marshall explained several scenarios regarding wind stack problems, and showed a video demonstrating the SMARTORK™ spirator product. Marshall also explained      various specifications, standards, guidelines, building costs and incentives of the device.

Following Marshall’s presentation and lunch, Dennis Rhodes of Imperial Electric provided the next presentation, “Geared to Gearless Modernizations.” Prior to delving into the specifics of his topic, Rhodes prompted the audience to think of the “weirdest” modernization they had ever done or witnessed, then asked everyone to tell him about it later in the day. Rhodes covered the basics and important features of ACPM technology and discussed system configurations, challenges of adaptation and gearless abilities. The interactive presentation included multiple images of industry equipment, all of which the audience was able to identify due to their industry knowledge.

John Koshak, founder of Elevator Safety Solutions, LLC, then took the lead with his presentation titled “2013 Code Update for New Edition of A17.1.” Koshak covered wind-turbine elevator codes, elevator designs for seismic-prone areas and occupant evacuation operation, among other code-related information. According to Koshak, there are more than 100 code revisions, most of which he examined in detail. The presentation was informative and included and an interactive question-and-answer session.

Following another short break, Patrick A. Carrajat of LIR Group, Inc. provided an informative yet brief presentation titled “The FSSG3, An Innovation to Save Lives of Passengers.” Carrajat emphasized the importance of elevator safety by providing startling statistics revealing the number of deaths caused by elevator accidents in various parts of the world. He then explained the different causes of the accidents and noted that all could have been easily prevented. After introducing the accident statistics, Carrajat then discussed the Fail Safe Safety Guard (FSSG), a device that monitors and alerts upon detection of jumped elevator door lock circuits. He concluded his presentation by saying it is the elevator industry’s responsibility to provide products such as the FSSG to improve elevator safety.

James Marinelli of Electrodyn Systems Ltd. presented the final topic of the day, “Overlays/Retrofit and Code Implications.” The presentation addressed the most common code-related questions about the top five retrofits being installed today — emergency/standby power, energy saver, unintended motion detection and control, firefighter emergency operation and electronic door restriction. Marinelli also covered Electrodyn’s energy-saver system, and the types, benefits, disadvantages and code compliance of door restriction systems.

Following the presentations, attendees prepared for the evening’s entertainment at Knibbe Ranch in Spring Branch, Texas, about 30 min. outside San Antonio. Upon arrival, guests were greeted by a large longhorn, and were able to touch and sit on the animal for pictures, your reporter included. Guests were given a hayride tour of the facilities and its large longhorns and cattle just as the sun was setting. Following the tour, everyone enjoyed delicious Texas barbeque, while listening to country group the Jody Jenkins Band. Following dinner, members built a campfire and enjoyed conversation and fireworks sponsored by GAL/Hollister Whitney. To top it off, the entire group was informed it was your reporter’s birthday, and of course, sang “Happy Birthday.” The evening was enjoyed by all.

The third day (May 1) saw a slow start, as everyone trickled in after a long evening at the ranch, but quickly picked up the pace with an early presentation delivered by Francisco Ortiz of Elevator Controls. Titled “The Complete Control Solution,” the presentation was introduced by John Castaño, vice president of sales for Elevator Controls. Castaño discussed some of the company’s current product offerings and provided a brief evolution of controllers, where they are going and how they relate to technology. He also emphasized the company’s increased safety efforts, saying “It is always on the forefront of our mind.” Ortiz took the stand discussing Pixel technology and the company’s Landa™ positioning system. The interactive presentation also featured video demonstrations of control systems and devices and a discussion about code compliance regarding Pixel technology. 

Mike Cook of ThyssenKrupp Elevator delivered the next presentation, titled “ThyssenKrupp’s Perspective of the Maintenance Control Program.” Cook examined the company’s Maintenance Control Program (MCP) and the requirements being enforced by the State of Washington’s AHJ. He discussed the impact such MCP requirements will have on the elevator market and the continued government support likely to be seen in the state. He also suggested the MCP will change the way many companies manage their maintenance procedures and improve safety. Cook had a copy of the MCP on hand and used it to explain the documents. Throughout his presentation, Cook was diligent in explaining his personal opinion, because he did not want to speak for others.

Steve Romnes of Vertitron Midwest, Inc. (ELEVATOR WORLD, January 2012), provided the next presentation, “Hydraulic Leveling Advancements.” Romnes discussed how to give customers a quicker hydraulic elevator that can save energy and time, and run cooler without changing the power unit or controller. The session included video demonstrations of Vertitron’s device, Reflex 3.14, which the audience insisted be shown more than once, as they were intrigued by the technology and its benefits. Reflex 3.14 provides quicker floor-to-floor times for both existing and new hydraulic elevators, and equipment temperatures are cooler.

Popp, a Denver-based consultant (EW, April 2013), gave the next presentation — “Elevators Vs. Lifts: The International Differences.” Popp began his discussion by explaining various factors that affect lift design. Having worked on some of the world’s major elevator projects, Popp suggested the type of building and occupancy, location and cultural implications are often the most influential factors during a project’s design phase. Popp then shifted his focus to the various codes and standards around the world, and explained the similarities and differences.

Donald Vollrath, a principal engineer at Magnetek, Inc., presented the forum’s final presentation — “Preparing for New Elevator Drives.” Vollrath talked about several of the industry’s hot topics, including the assessment of existing machines when considering reuse or total replacement, application and sizing of transformers for modernization projects, appropriate sizing of drives, energy-reduction assumptions when new drives are installed and several hidden issues with elevator drives. The presentation featured multiple illustrations, which depicted the technical details. Vollrath also mentioned he worked with Schindler to install the Marriott Riverwalk’s elevators several years prior.

The final order of business for the Annual Forum was the Membership Meeting, during which the association’s officers and directors were elected and sworn in. Popp thanked everyone involved with the planning of the forum and announced that IAEC was now legally recognized by its new name “IAEC, Inc.” Before announcing Sheila Swett as the new executive director, members gave Gordon Ernst a standing ovation for his time and effort as the     forum’s outgoing holder of that position. The meeting covered official membership business,   including financial reports and a brief discussion on last year’s meeting at United 2012. IAEC Vice President James Lawrence discussed several notable projects around the world and provided the group with handouts to demonstrate how to compile project information to submit for industry exposure. The next IAEC forum will be held in Denver and is scheduled for April 21-24, 2014.

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