The elevator has been around since time immemorial, and although its core function has remained the same, the technologies behind working elevators have gone through multiple revolutions through the years. As is the nature of technology itself, future versions are almost always better than the previous version, even if it takes a few mistakes in between to get to that point. However, the introduction of intelligent automation in elevator drives is not just an evolutionary step, but more of a revolutionary leap.
How and why automation in elevators is revolutionary for the industry
Understanding What Variable Frequency Drives Do
Variable frequency drives or VFDs are motor controllers capable of varying the specific frequencies and voltages driving the electric motor, in accordance with the changing situation. This ensures maximum energy efficiency and, in the process, also increases the motor’s life expectancy. It should be noted that while there might be certain differences in some instances, variable or adjustable speed drives, adjustable frequency drives, inverters, AC drives, etc. are all used to describe the same mechanism.
Elevator Drives: A Basic Introduction
If the elevator is an automated machine, which it is in most modern buildings, then the drive is that machine’s mechanical brain. These variable frequency drives are used to operate and control the elevator’s velocity, motion, movement, torque, and various other aspects. The latest, artificially intelligent elevator drives, however, come with features that are far more advanced than what this basic introduction to the elevator drives may suggest. As to what those advancements are exactly, we will get to them next.
What are Intelligent Elevator Drives?
Elevator drives have attained automation even before machine learning algorithms were introduced, but now the results have been as already described, quite revolutionary. To explain the improvements we are discussing, first consider everything we said about VFDs letting us program and control various aspects of elevator movement, and then imagine an elevator that can go past the generic programming to further boost energy efficiency, passenger safety, and equipment longevity in real-time. Equipped with the right sensors, the latest elevator drives don’t just adjust to better suit the situation; they can also learn from previous interactions.
Advantages of Introducing Intelligent Elevator Drives
On introducing an elevator drive with high automation ranking, benefits such as the following are to be expected, if not exceeded:
• Reduced power consumption, leading to significantly lowered electricity bills
• Reduced need for regular maintenance
• Reduced need for manual control
• Reduced cost of operation and repairs
• Reduced chances of an elevator accident
• Smart alarms and warnings to prevent any unnoticed, potential risk factor form becoming a real risk
• Active, real-time heat dissipation to reduce chances of a fire hazard
• Increased passenger comfort
• Remote application control for easier and timely access
It is not as if smart elevator tech does not have any room to improve anymore, but advanced elevator drives have proven to be quite capable of handling even emergency situations with surprisingly good results.