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World Elevator Professionals Meet in Huangshan

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Elevator safety-code specialists from across the globe met at the World Elevator Conference hosted by the China Elevator Association in Huangshan, China.

Elevator safety code specialists from Australia, Europe, India, Japan, Korea and North America met with their Chinese counterparts and more than 260 Chinese elevator-industry professionals at the World Elevator Conference hosted by the China Elevator Association (CEA) on May 11-12 at the Xiangming Hotel International Conference Center in Huangshan, (Tunxi District), China. Attendees shared the latest progress and trends in the global elevator industry in exchange for expertise and experience about elevator safety standards and technology development issues.

To help the enterprises in the Chinese elevator industry (especially those that export products across the world) gain an in-depth understanding of the evolution of the world’s elevator-safety standard technology and the surveillance systems of the international elevator markets, CEA joined efforts with CEN/TC10, ISO/TC178, Pacific Asia Lift & Escalator Association (PALEA), European Lift Association (ELA), European Elevator Association (EEA), ASME A17, Korea Elevator Safety Institute (KESI) and SAC/TC196 in preparation for the event. The conference received support from China’s General Administration of Quality, Inspection and Quarantine, the leader of which signed a cooperation memorandum with KESI during the meeting. Zhang Lexiang, vice secretary general of CEA, acted as presiding officer at the meeting.

Ren Tianxiao, president of CEA, delivered an opening speech, welcomed guests from the safety-code organizations around the world and gave thanks to all participants. According to Tianxiao, roughly 350,000 elevators and escalators were manufactured in China in 2010 – an in-crease from the less than 50,000 units in 2001. The steady growth in the past decade has been powered by the nation’s infrastructure construction and steady urbanization. To date, the Chinese elevator industry has a large market, a tremendous manufacturing capacity, uses a technological safety code system in conformity with the international standard, has a structured production system with lower costs and follows an ongoing trend by which service in the elevator business is to play a major role in place of manufacture.

Ren Tianxiao also stated that the Chinese elevator industry made the right decision at the onset by adopting a safety-standard system in harmony with the current leading international safety code, to which China’s national safety standards are successfully adapted, coming out in force after EN 81 updates. However, it is now challenged by a new national safety-code system based on EN 81-20/50 that will substitute for the existing GB 7588-2003 (based on EN 81-1998). As a result, the nation’s elevator industry will have to adapt to the new standards as a whole.   

Cui Gang, vice director of the Special Equipment Supervisory Bureau to the aforementioned general administration, addressed participants on China’s elevator safety supervisory system and its future development. Al-though newly installed escalators and equipment are much more numerous than other specialty equipment (boilers, pressure containers, cable cars, etc.), through continued efforts in implementation of a strict product permit control and inspection practice by government authorities on varied levels, accident rates went down steadily during the 2001-2010 decade.

According to Cui Gang, there were nearly 1.63 million elevators and escalators in use in mainland China alone by the end of 2010, and the number grows by roughly 20%annually. Therefore, the number of newly increased elevators and escalators in China per year has surpassed 50% of the world’s total, with cities like Shanghai and Beijing having more than 100,000 units already in use.

Meanwhile, a series of new national elevator safety rules, detailed in maintenance, supervisory and regular inspections on hoist and forced drive elevators, firefighters’ elevators and explosive-proof elevators, respectively, went into effect during the previous years, improving the nation’s elevator safety supervisory system. The same rules on hydraulic lifts, dumbwaiters, escalators and moving walks are scheduled to come out later this year, while the rules on the permits of manufacture, installation, modernization and maintenance have been underway.

Recent studies revealed the following information about accidents: frequent accidents took place in the door zone; hazards to riders from using permit-less freight lifts, dumbwaiters and other plain-structured lifts have not yet been completely eliminated; and accidents on escalators and moving walks need greater attention.

The goal in the next three to five years is to further de-crease the death rate per 10,000 units to below the aver-age of the past five years by specifying safety responsibilities to building owners and/or real-estate management companies and maintenance contractors, while improving service quality from the latter. It is also important to encourage more reliable, essentially safe elevator products to encourage product upgrading and modernizations to phase out old equipment. The future development includes strengthening capabilities at varied levels in the event of emergency (i.e., the building owners and/or users should be able to provide first-aid functions during an emergency, and the emergency-handling capabilities of maintenance contractors should be enhanced.) In addition, public-safety rescue forces such as firefighters who have received specialized training should play a role in elevator-related emergencies. Public education about passenger safety should be promoted, as well.    

Esfandiar Gharibaan, chairman of TC10, Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN  ), began by giving an introduction of European legislation on lift installations and their inspection. Lift Directive 95/16/EC, in force since July 1999, applies to new lifts and certain safety components for lifts for which Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) come into use. The directive concerns lift in-stallers and component manufacturers and defines the role of other parties in the process, providing a range of conformity assessment procedures (CAPs). The European Lift Directive 95/16/EC serves as a collective binding design of the national laws of its member states, which defines among other issues, products covered by the Lift Directive, EHSRs, CAPs, roles and obligations of the involved parties.

The Lift Directive applies to lifts permanently serving buildings and construction, including both new and existing buildings, existing wells (hoistways) in replacement of existing lifts and hoisting appliances with a rated speed faster than 0.15 mps. EHSRs define the health and safety objectives to be attained (e.g. cars must be fitted with two-way communication means allowing permanent contact with a rescue service). Technical specifications supporting EHSRs have been provided in harmonized standards. As the Lift Directive mainly deals with passenger safety, Annex I contains the list of EHSRs and standards for lifts, as European Harmonized Standards supporting the Lift Directive have been worked out by CEN/TC10 as listed in Table 1.

The Notified Body (NB) is an independent accredited organization that depends upon its knowledge, experience, independence and resources to conduct conformity assessments. It must have been nominated by a member state and notified by the European Commission in order to conduct conformity assessment activities in any member states. Lift Directive 95/16/EC has provided two routes to conformity assessment. The primary one is to take the risk assessment based on EHSRs by a NB and mitigate the identified risks until the design gets ap-proved by a NB, whereas the other route is to apply the Harmonized Standards. This tandem market-entry system has been regarded as the prototype and a leading ex-ample of performance-based codes (PCB).

The presentation by Gharibaan covered the following issues, which are key to entering the European Union (EU) market for Chinese elevator and component manufacturers:

  • Requirements for other risks
  • Lift installers
  • CE marking
  • Final inspection of lifts
  • CAPs
  • Market Surveillance (for example, the U.K.)
  • European and national legislation
  • EU Recommendation 95/216/EC
  • Main characteristics of national legislations
  • Enactment
  • Periodic examination
  • Reporting of accidents and near misses
  • Quality-assurance surveillance of the lift companies 
  • Surveillance by NBs

The revision of EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 has a profound significance in the Chinese elevator industry, remarked Gharibaan in his second presentation on this issue. Thanks to the good work by the organizers most of the presentations were translated into Chinese in the form of a PowerPoint presentation for the audience. The current standard is more than 13 years old, so in order to align it with the current safety requirements, it was important to revise it by incorporating the results of studies conducted by the elevator industry on safety issues, such as strength of the doors and the requirements for safety spaces. It was also essential to harmonize with the changes in European legislation, such as the Lift Directive, and with the requirements of the recent EN standards, such as EN 81- 70 and EN 81-28. Other reasons for the revisions include user experience (e.g., there are more than 80 CEN interpretations and three amendments to date) and ease of use to incorporate the three amendments in one, remove redundancies in the text of EN 81-1 and EN 81-2, consolidate the clauses in the new standard, etc.

Input from European interest groups such as trade as-sociations and the EU Commission, contributions and re-quests from non-European interest groups in Asia Pacific and North America, etc., was provided. ISO TC 178’s work on the harmonization of international standards was also among the driving forces of the revisions. With the input and requirements from all interested parties, the existing EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 will boil down to the new standard family of EN 81-20 and EN 81-50.

EN 81-20 will contain requirements for complete passenger or goods/passenger lift installations independent of the driving system by grouping all technical requirements for design of electric drive systems (currently EN 81-1), hydraulic drive systems (currently EN 81-2) and all other drive systems in the future. EN 81-50 will address examinations, calculations and tests of lift components to contain descriptions of examinations, calculations and tests of lift components to be used in any type of lift (passenger, goods/passenger and goods-only lifts).

The process of the revision features close international cooperation. In 2007, CEN/TC 10 Plenary decided to cooperate with users of EN Standards outside Europe by applying an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and CEN agreement. Through ISO and CEN resolutions, the following ISO members were appointed to participate in the revision of the standards:

  • Standardization Administration of China (SAC/TC 196)  KESI
  • Japan Elevator Association (JEA)
  • American National Standards Institute
  • PALEA

In order to facilitate communication, an international cooperation group was formed as AD HOC Group 17 with members from the above organizations. As China is a user of the EN 81 standards, CEN/TC 10 closely cooperates with SAC/TC 196. A CEN/TC 10 delegation paid a visit to Langfang, China, in October 2005, reaching a cooperation agreement signed by both parties (Ren Tianxiao on behalf of SAC/TC 196) in February 2006. Since then, SAC/TC 196 has played a noticeable role in the revision work, ex-changing questions and comments with CEN/TC 10.

Milestones of the work will include:

  • Approved draft by WG 1: SAC/TC 196 was involved in preparation in June.
  • Launch of CEN inquiry: SAC/TC 196 will receive a copy to comment on in September.
  • Closing of the inquiry: SAC/TC 196 will answer comments in February 2012.
  • Launch of the formal vote: SAC/TC 196 will receive a copy to comment on in January 2013.
  • Closing of the formal vote: SAC/TC 196 will answer comments in April 2013.
  • Publication by CEN (DAV): EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, subject to regular reviews and updates in July 2013

CEN/TC 10 and SAC/TC 196 have been working together for better standards for the world elevator industry.

Louis Bialy, a friend to many Chinese professionals and officers in the elevator industry, has traveled to China many times since the early 1980s. On behalf of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and North American elevator industry, Bialy recognized the host for organizing this successful conference:

“This symposium is indeed an excellent way of recognizing the rapid evolution of the Chinese elevator industry to a world-leading role. I’d like to thank you for being invited to speak on this important occasion.”

Bialy’s presentation, “Global Trends in the Elevator Industry,” identified the following trends:

China is rapidly becoming a trend setter in the elevator industry; swift development of technology is leading to rapid evolution of the modern world, such as the fast growth of communication systems, the global focus by media networks, PC and Internet technology, mobile communications, accelerated dissemination of knowledge, information and ideas; and the idea that trends in new products, processes and themes are widely spreading at unprecedented rates.

Environmental- and energy-related issues are becoming highly visible, which leads to increasing emphasis on global climate change, actions by governments to limit greenhouse gas emissions, reduction in carbon footprints, and sustainable development, issues of carbon caps, credits, capture and sequestration. In Europe, several EU directives have intended to reduce energy consumption, carbon footprints and hazardous substances, while promoting construction and sustainable development. In the U.S., Congress plans to establish carbon caps and impose limited carbon-credit systems, and, in the ongoing legislation, eliminate or reduce hazardous materials, which have caused increased concerns. An ISO standard for limiting electromagnetic radiation has been published, and another ISO standard for energy measurement and product classification is under development. The elevator industry has been taking actions to address environmental issues by developing and using high-efficiency motors, re-generative drives and energy-efficient dispatching systems; phasing out geared machines and materials of concern; reducing use of hydraulic lifts; building green factories; and applying life cycle planning to elevator systems.

Safety is an imperative in the elevator industry. Globalization has led to increasing travel by people who expect the same safety levels wherever they go. Local residents also anticipate that the means by which they travel will also be safe. As people’s standard of living and quality of life have improved and the values of society have changed, greater emphasis is placed on safety. This trend is also visible in other transportation-related industries. Standard requirements will likely include automatic emergency braking in the future. Tremendous safety improvements have been made to rail transport (e.g., platform doors are now standard on new subway systems).

The public’s expectation continues to grow. Regarding elevators, door safety edges have been replaced by optical sensors, protection requirements against the overspeed of ascending cars and unintended car movements have been implemented, failure of suspension means is very rare, leveling at landing doors has been greatly improved (thus reducing incidents of tripping and falling) and entrapments of body parts in escalators have been significantly reduced.

Elevator safety codes have become a universal means to ensure safety, which have evolved simultaneously with the public’s expectations for safety. Prescriptive codes have remained the cornerstone of elevator safety for standard products, and they will continue to be updated and improved. Existing elevators do not have all the safety features of newer models/types, and a process is required to upgrade them so that at least a reasonable level of safety can be ensured.

Over the years, the prescriptive EN 81 codes have been widely used across Asia Pacific, South America, Africa and Europe, and the leadership of CEN has recognized the global relevance of the EN 81 codes, having invited China, Japan, Korea and the U.S. into the ongoing revision of the codes. As a broad-consensus-based code, EN 81 benefits from a wide base of expertise in the elevator industry; alignment with EN 81 provides access to the elevator industry. China is to be commended for its vision in aligning GB 7588 with EN 81. Bialy strongly recommends that future versions of GB 7588 be aligned with EN 81 without deviations.

The convergence of the prescriptive codes under ISO/TC178 is underway as a result of the wide adoption of EN 81, as well as harmonization and rationalization. The three major prescriptive codes are EN 81, ASME A17.1 and the Building Standard Law of Japan (BSLJ). JEA has taken the initiative to work toward greater harmonization between BSLJ and EN 81; meanwhile, WG4 of ISO TC178 is revising ISO TR11071 Comparison of Codes. The revision focuses on these three codes. The process involves comparison of these codes, creation of an ISO technical report (TR) containing specific recommendations and encouraging national committees to incorporate the recommendations in their codes, respectively. The first stage of the convergence process has started by charging the Task Force on Convergence (TFC) with the development of a TR. Five components (i.e. door locks, buffers, overspeed governors, safety gears and brakes have been selected for working in the process, and EN 81 is used as the benchmark and basic language).   

Existing elevators are not as safe as new types because older elevators were designed to meet the earlier codes. However, safety codes around the world have improved over the years, while the expectations of society have been changed. EN 81-80:2003 Safety Norm for Existing Lifts (SNEL), based on ISO 14798 Risk Assessment Methodology, is a useful code for existing elevators featuring corrective actions depending on risk levels and step-by-step time-sequenced upgrading. A country can filter the requirements to its local needs. It includes a safety-audit checklist for independent checking of all existing installations. SNEL has been adopted by many EU countries, thus recommended to the countries in alignment with EN 81. SNEL addresses 74 hazardous scenarios, including door protection, tripping on car entrance, two-way communication, uncontrolled car movement with doors open, the unguarded space beneath the car sill (apron) and door-locking devices. It is strongly recommended that China and other Asia Pacific Area (APA) countries encourage others to use SNEL to bring existing elevators to an acceptable level of safety.    

Safety innovation within the elevator industry covers various issues regarding the development and progress of using performance-based codes (PCBs) with North America taking the lead by applying ASME A17.7-2007/CSA B44.7-07 to the elevator industry. Relevant ISO documents have been adopted by China as the process for acceptance of innovative technologies. ELEVATOR WORLD published Bialy’s first article addressing PCB issues in September 2009 and the follow-up parts of the article (by Bialy and Davis L. Turner) in March, May, July and November 2010 and January 2011 respectively. EW readers can refer to these EW issues for more details about the speaker’s presentation at the conference. To help readers in the Chinese elevator industry learn more about the PCB, EW distributed its 2011 China Digest, including the Chinese translation of the first part Bialy’s article reprinted in EW’s 2011 China Digest.    

Being Part of a New Paradigm

All countries in the APA will benefit from recognizing major international certifications: ISO 22559-1, 2, 3 and 4 by Global Conformity Assessment Bodies (GCABs); the Lift Directive by NBs and A17.7/B44.7 by Accredited Elevator/Escalator Certification Organizations (AECOs). The countries will also benefit from continued participation in ISO Energy Standard development and paying attention to environmental issues. According to Bialy, to eliminate the global technical barrier for free trade, the GCABs are necessary. Langfang is already accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 65, and the acceptance of certifications by GCABs, AECOs and NBs is necessary. With the new paradigm emerging, environmental concerns must be addressed. Additional features include greater harmonization of the prescriptive codes, safety of existing lifts, innovation with safety for new and existing lifts, rapid time to market for new innovative lifts, PBCs, directives, the verification process, certification and global recognition of certifications.

Ian Todkill, president of PALEA, is an advocate and promoter for global code harmonization of lifts and escalators, for which he has made continued efforts in the past decade. He frequently visits China, working with other safety-code specialists, including his Chinese peers, for what he described as the “elevator and escalator single code package.” He addressed what he thought it would look like in 2016. The package consists of:

  • ISO Prescriptive Standard ISO 22559-6
  • ISO Performance-based Standard ISO 22559-1 and 2 
  • ISO Conformity Procedures ISO 22559-3 and 4
  • ISO Risk Assessment Methodology ISO 14798

It is good news for the entire elevator industry that global technical barriers to trade could be removed, in-creasing export opportunities. The adoption of the code package would provide a stable environment, in which the elevator industry operated with both reduced costs and product varieties. Other benefits from the package include simplified logistics due to simplified import procedures, increased safety levels (both local and global), improved social environment for innovation with ensured safety and a streamlined approval process. In addition, once a certification is approved in one country, it can be used anywhere in the world.   

Most countries use EN 81, which underwent a major revision in 2009. CEN initiatives included developing the new version of EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 and forming international cooperation through a CEN/ISO agreement, by which China, Japan, Korea, the U.S. and PALEA were allowed participation in the revision work. The participation pro-vided an opportunity to include APA requirements into the revision of the new EN 81 standards scheduled for publication in 2013. Meanwhile, ISO agreed to develop an ISO prescriptive code using EN 81 as a benchmark, working in parallel to merge the three major international codes based on EN 81 language. A task force was created under ISO TC 178/WG 4, with initial work focusing on five selected safety components, and the TR is to be published in 2013.    

The drive to convert ISO/TS 22559-1 to ISO GESRs paved the way for harmonization of the performance-based codes in 2009. This was followed by comparison with the Lift Directive’s Annex 1, and an agreement to precede the work was reached in 2011. With some adjustments, ISO 22559-1 and ISO GESRs are to be issued as an ISO Standard in 2014, then get adopted worldwide by 2016.

The conformity assessment began with the plan to issue ISO 22559-3 and ISO 22559-4 as ISO standards in 2013. It would take three years (2013-2016) to get all the work done to obtain full recognition under the International Accreditation Forum (IAF). This could make it possible for all countries to use the same PBC for lift tests once they are conducted in a single country.

China has been playing a constructive role throughout the process by harmonizing GB 7588-2003 with EN 81:1998, requesting ISO to convert ISO/TS 22559-1 into an ISO standard in 2007. In 2008, the country’s government directed a wide adoption of international standards.

With extraordinary efforts by SAC/TC196, a number of new GB standards based on international standards (GB 24803.1 Ex ISO/TS 22559.1, GB/TS 20900 Ex ISO 14798, GB 24805 Ex EN 81-80, etc.) were issued in 2009. In 2009-2011, China led the way in the APA, providing important input in EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, and harmonized the new edition of GB 7888 with EN 81-20 and EN 81-50. In 2014, China plans to adopt the ISO package under development and harmonize GB 7588 with ISO 22559-6 by 2015. With continued efforts made jointly with Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation and IAF for universal approval, China adopted ISO 22559-3 and ISO 22559-4.

The two-day meeting provided an extensive range of information and knowledge regarding the latest developments in the global elevator industry. The following topics were also addressed:

  • “Use of Elevators in Emergencies” by Bialy on behalf of David McColl
  • “Technical Specification for Elevators” (Japanese TS A0028-1) by Kazumasa Ito
  • “Reasons for Code Deharmonization in Asia Pacific” by Glenn Barnes
  • “Indian Elevator Code Harmonization and Future Direction” by Emmanuel Rajasekaran

Topics regarding “How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Lifts and Escalators” were addressed by ELA and Wittur Group. Yong GiEom, general manager of the Strategic Planning Team, also delivered a speech on behalf of KESI.     

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