Taking Charge of Destiny
January was named for the Roman god Janus. He was the god of beginnings and transitions and is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. One way our industry can best judge the past year is by looking at ELEVATOR WORLD’s Project of the Year entries. The number of entries this year – 36 in eight categories – was the most ever received and surprised us. They came from areas as familiar as Corpus Christi, Texas, and as remote as a castle in Spain. The competition in some categories was staggering. We called on our Technical Advisory Group to help with the judging, and the difference between first and second place was often just a few points. One of the most competitive categories was Elevators, New Construction, which was won by Schindler Lifts Australia Pty. Ltd. for the Macquarie Bank Headquarters in Sydney. Canny Elevator Co. Ltd. took first place in the category Escalators, New Construction for the amazing escalator installations at Mount Tianmen in China. The Escalators, Modernization project at one of the busiest airports in the U.S, Seattle-Tacoma, went to KONE. Another Chinese entry – an Inclined Elevator on Lantau Island, Hong Kong – came from Hütter-Aufzüge and Suzhou Rhein. In Dubai, a ThyssenKrupp Elevator Southern Europe, Africa and Middle East Moving Walk stretches 820 m from the metro to the Burj Khalifa and Mall. The company scored first again (Elevators, Modernization) with a unique counterweightless elevator in its own headquarters in Madrid. In the Private-Residence Elevators category, UT Elevator Inc. won first with a glass elevator that brings in the light to a home in Toronto. Gillespie Corp. designed a unique Platform Lift in Texas for the U.S. Navy to lift helicopter blades for spin balancing.
As a new year begins, we peer anxiously into our cloudy crystal balls, trying to plan budgets, marketing and hiring. Two years out of the deepest recession since the 1930s, we can see a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. The recovery has been stronger than many predicted. Our industry is in the midst of training a new generation of elevator technicians to replace the many lost in the recession, but this job cannot be done quickly enough for the expected boom. McGraw-Hill Dodge predicts the recovery will regain momentum in 2015, when construction starts are expected to increase 9%. Time’s Rana Foroohar predicts that by 2025, the construction industry will need to build “new square footage equivalent to 85% of today’s entire residential and commercial stock.” That sounds like elevator manufacturers, suppliers, installers and maintainers will be busy for the next 10 years.
The focus this month is Destination Control. That seems appropriate, since we are all starting off the year trying to do just that. Jack Welsh said, “Control your destiny, or somebody else will.” No longer can you walk into a building, expecting to stab the hall button and decide which floor to go to after you get on the elevator. Many new elevators have minds of their own, and you had best know where you are going before you get on – or, like “the man who never returned” in the famous Kingston Trio song, “M.T.A.,” you may ride forever. The good news is, if you know your destination in advance, you will get there much quicker.
Richard Peters, the czar of traffic studies, says that destination control is the agreed upon term now (p. 16). It has been called many things – “corridor control,” “destination dispatch,” “PORT” and even “full button call and send” – and its history goes back more than 65 years to when Otis owned the patent on Selective Collective Control (SCS) and licensed only a certain number of jobs to be bid on by other manufacturers. Competing companies needed another system or a workaround to circumvent SCS. My father, William C. Sturgeon, installed a traffic-controlling system invented by Ken White, a former Westinghouse engineer, in Mobile, Alabama, in 1950. They called it “Corridor Control,” and there were no buttons in the elevator. The new systems being touted by all the major companies now are vastly improved by the use of computers and artificial intelligence. Four excellent articles in this issue explore destination control, traffic analysis, simulations and hybrids of the destination system.
We may not have a completely clear picture of where the elevator industry is going next year, but it seems a few of us are trying to control our destination.