The Second Annual International Elevator and Escalator Symposium gathered experts who shared their knowledge over two full days.
by Angela C. Baldwin
The second annual International Elevator and Escalator Symposium (IEES) took place on December 3-4, 2019, at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Hosted by Elevator World, Inc. and Liftinstituut Solutions B.V., the two-day event welcomed more than 100 attendees from around the world in an intimate setting where knowledge and experience were shared through presentations, a panel discussion and an exposition.
The symposium’s theme of “Safety of Elevators and Escalators During Their Life Cycle: Maintenance and Inspection” informed the 20 presentations delivered by company representatives hailing from 10 countries. During the opening session, Marco Waagmeester, Liftinstituut Solutions CEO, discussed the theme choice, which was carefully considered by event organizers and the IEES technical committee when planning IEES 2019, saying:
“What is Las Vegas about? Gambling. That is the opposite of what we are about. We do not gamble with safety. We are here to promote safety. Maintenance and inspection are interrelated, so it is no coincidence that we are speaking about these topics in relationship to safety.”
Elevator World President/CEO T. Bruce MacKinnon reiterated Waagmeester’s sentiments, and welcomed attendees, speakers and exhibitors to the first IEES to be held in the U.S.:
“We began this event in 2018, holding the first IEES in Istanbul. We are excited to work with Liftinstituut again this year in the U.S. on the important topic of safety. We have some interesting people here, including experts from elevator companies and consultancies around the world, Nevada’s chief administrative officer for elevators, members of the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund, a representative from Walmart and many more. We hope you enjoy the knowledge-sharing over these two days.”
The symposium’s first presentation, “The Role of Maintenance and Inspections in Risk Reduction,” was delivered by Louis Bialy of Louis Bialy & Associates. Bialy discussed the risks to personnel, the troubling trend of increased elevator-related fatalities in construction from 2003-2016, and how risk assessment can play an important role in safety. “Every life is important, and much work has been done to increase safety. The maintenance and inspection of elevator equipment is imperative in order to ensure safety,” he concluded.
Bialy’s presentation delivered a wide view of the symposium’s theme, and the segue to Robert Kaspersma’s discussion of “Innovative Designs: Challenges for Inspection and Maintenance?” was a natural one. According to Liftinstituut’s Kaspersma, “With innovative designs, you start with a risk assessment, the topic of Lou Bialy. Innovative design is part of our industry. It is essential that not only safety for the riding public is guaranteed, but for the maintenance engineer and inspector, as well.”
Dr. Lee E. Gray, professor of Architectural History at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, built upon Bialy and Kaspersma’s presentations, adding historical context with “Elevator Maintenance and Inspection: Recommendations, Regulations and Codes 1890-1940.” Making light of what he thought might be a drier presentation than the two that came before, Gray said, “I have no sexy slides but a more straightforward history of elevator codes. This presentation is a slice of history of the evolution of codes all over the world.” Indeed, Gray took the audience from Denmark to Australia, from Berlin to Finland and from the U.S. to Italy, in a journey that was anything but dull.
The morning session was broken up by a coffee break that also gave attendees a chance to visit the symposium’s 11 exhibitors. The exhibits lined the walls of the back half of the ballroom, making it convenient for all concerned. The first of four drawings took place at the end of the morning coffee break. The lucky winner received US$100 in cash, considered useful considering the ample gambling options an escalator ride away.
The papers that followed Gray’s included “Contributing Factors That Can Lead to Diminished Safety of Elevators and Escalators During Their Life Cycle” by Max Guijt of Shanderry Elevator and Escalator Consultants in Ireland, who compared the failures of Boeing’s 737 MAX to the elevator industry. “Those flying the plane did not understand the technology and the computer systems,” he said, leading to accidents the pilots couldn’t prevent. “Doesn’t the same happen in the elevator industry? Of course.” He gave graphic examples of cases he has worked on as an expert witness and discussed the role of and need for quality control systems. He closed by saying, “We can and shall do better.”
Erol Akcay of Liftinstituut Solutions U.A.E. discussed “Maintenance, the Correct Approach to Raise the Quality,” explaining corrective, rather than preventive, maintenance is still common. “Regular service staff is not allowed to take initiative regarding unusual conditions,” he said, adding “Maintenance must become more alterable.”
The day’s lunch, served in a ballroom adjacent to the meeting room, was filled with the chatter of an engaged crowd. Conversation vacillated between the morning’s sessions, personal business experiences and, because it was too good not to discuss, the food.
While the morning session was moderated by Liftinstituut’s Marjon Oosting, the afternoon was led by Bialy. The two made quite a team, with Oosting’s enthusiasm contagious and Bialy’s knowledge and experience inspiring. Bialy introduced the first afternoon speaker with aplomb, and the course was set for the rest of the day. Mohamed Ibriham of Toshiba Elevators explored the topic of “Safety in Vertical Transportation Systems — An Enduring Journey,” followed by Charlie Slater of ATIS Elevator Inspections LLC in the U.S., who discussed “U.S. Elevator Inspections: Judged by the Jurisdiction.” Naohiko Suzuki of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. presented “Remote Maintenance Service of Mitsubishi Elevators,” a topic that inspired many follow-up questions.
The afternoon coffee break ended with the day’s second drawing, which gave a lucky attendee US$200 credit to be used in the Elevator World bookstore. When everyone was settled, the afternoon session continued with Kevin Brinkman of NEII and Brian Blackaby of B. Blackaby and Associates discussing “Elevator and Escalator Industry Cybersecurity Best Practices.” Onur Artikoglu of Otis Turkey talked about “Technological Influence Over Sustainable Maintenance” and Reinier Geradts and Jeroen Bazuin of DLR Adviesgroep B.V. from The Netherlands co-presented on the topic of “Maximize Reliability and Continuity of Building-Related Transport Solutions.”
The welcome dinner that evening took guests outside of Bally’s to Caesars Palace, a short walk or limousine ride away. The weather was cool and perfect for those already dealing with snow at home, and with Las Vegas brightly lit and fully decorated for the impending Christmas holiday, spirits were understandably high. And, Carmine’s NYC Family-Style Restaurant did not disappoint. With a warm and friendly atmosphere and excellent food and service, the restaurant provided the perfect cap on a fine day. It was hard to remember we weren’t in Italy, the restaurant was so authentic — that is, until the Elvis impersonator and two showgirls arrived. Guests lined up for photos with the ladies and pseudo “King.” A concert of Elvis favorites followed and kept guests entertained through much of the meal. It was a memorable evening, and, for many, one captured on camera for posterity.
Carl Burch of GAL Manufacturing Corp. opened day two with his presentation on “Faulty Door Contact Circuit Monitoring.” The hot topic, a particularly big one in NYC, garnered him many questions from the audience. Emre Koroglu of Merih Asansor in Turkey also discussed doors in “Increased Safety and Predictive Maintenance by a Door Driver Featured with Wireless Connectivity and Remote Monitoring.” He stressed the need to reduce the risk to field employees. “We need to do the maintenance properly. The goals are risk reduction, maintenance integrity and predictive maintenance. Lift your expectations for safety for field employees and end users.”
The day’s next speaker, Manuel Diez of TÜV Rheinland, joked that it was not usual to be a speaker at an event put on by your competitor, in this case Liftinstituut. But, Diez said the desire to talk about the work of TÜV Rheinland and ISO was too great to pass up. “To standardize globally is a huge initiative. It is something that has never happened before, and we are on track to achieve it,” he said. Diez went on to talk about his company’s thoughts on safety, saying:
“Controlling only the initial quality of the product has proved not to be sufficient to grant safety for the lifetime of the product. … Nothing we do is so important that we cannot take the time and effort to do it safely.”
Following the morning coffee break and a drawing for Apple Airpods, where the lucky winner was thrilled to have scored such a coveted Christmas gift for one of his children, Onur Artikoglu of Otis discussed “FlexGrouping — The Ultimate Flexibility of Proof Buildings,” where he explained SuperGroup, a dispatching system that can be used with double-deck elevators, and more.
Robert Cuzzi and Harry Vyas of VDA then took to the stage to talk about “Successful Implementation of a Mandated VT Periodic Inspection and Testing Program to Improve Safety and Reliability — Emulating the NYC Model.” Before beginning his presentation, however, Cuzzi took a few moments to comment on the symposium:
“I am happy to be here. This is a great symposium. Really great. I have heard a lot of great presentations over the past day and a half, and I think we all agree our goal is no accidents, no fatalities. What we want is a non-event. In that same way, New York took a hard look at what it was doing and made the difficult choice to change it.”
In TAK Mathews’ “Fireman and Evacuation Elevators and MRLs” presentation, he discussed the challenges of machine-room-less (MRL) elevators in evacuations:
“There are risks when [MRLs] are used for evacuations that are different from other elevators. We need to stop denying it and accept that we have a problem. Firemen around the world need to be educated on the complexities of MRLs.”
Following lunch, Formula Systems’ Cornelius Walls did double duty, presenting his own paper, “Meeting Code Changes with Game Changing Technology” and that of Elevator Safety Solutions’ John Koshak, who was unable to attend. Koshak’s paper, “3-Dimensional Hoistway Door Protection,” was admirably presented and provided a natural segue to Wall’s own presentation. Both sparked discussion from the crowd.
The symposium’s last individual presentation came from Albert So of the University of Hong Kong. So discussed “Development of a Real-Time Elevator Brake Monitor,” inspired by an ongoing project resulting from a fatal accident in Hong Kong that was caused by brake failure.
Before the closing panel discussion, one final drawing gifted a lucky winner with one free ticket to the IEES 2020 in Amsterdam, valued at US$1,000. Panel members included Bialy, who acted as moderator, Artikoglu, Kaspersma, Mathews and Brennan Paterson, chief administrative officer of Nevada’s Department of Business and Industry’s Mechanical Compliance Section, a unit with responsibility for regulating elevators, escalators and moving walks. The discussion was wide-ranging and passionate and brought the day to a fine close. Bialy ended the discussion by saying:
“There are no bad guys here. We are all good guys trying to do the right thing. This has been a superb symposium. It gives elevator personnel around the world a chance to interact and move out of the boxes we live in and share ideas, thoughts and experiences.”
MacKinnon agreed, saying in the symposium’s closing session:
“We hope you found value in this event. Doing this kind of thing is not our main business, but it brings value to the industry, and safety has been important to EW since our beginning. We thank the speakers, attendees and exhibitors.”
Waagmeester thanked everyone on behalf of Liftinstituut and invited all to Amsterdam, The Netherlands, for the IEES 2020 scheduled for December 7-8. For more information, visit elevatorsymposium.org.