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Smooth Operators: Part II Digital & Electronic Impact on Moving Elevator Doors

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Holiday Party at Columbia Elevator

Happy Holidays from the Columbia Elevator Products Team!

Today, as we approach the third decade of the twenty-first century, electronic and digital solutions are supplanting the mechanical methodologies on which all mechanical operations have previously relied. The changes impact the vehicles we drive, the buildings in which we live and work, and virtually all the products and services we consume in residential and business life. As such, it was natural that this shift would find its way into the elevator sector, which has profited from the massive introduction of electronics into the field.

A case in point is the introduction of digitally-enabled elevator door drives that are bringing the elevator field into the paradigm now commonly referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). By use of a digital communication protocol and interface in the door drive’s electronic board, it has become possible to create a bidirectional communication protocol that reports all operating parameters of the elevator door, the feedback on each operation cycle, and enables easy interaction with the system’s operating parameters.

Thermal Monitoring

Real-time data displayed on an AR tablet can be used to optimize equipment performance and maintenance, detect and proactively correct causes for future failures, and train technicians.

This opens an entirely new dimension in elevator maintenance and performance monitoring. A technician using a tablet can connect wirelessly to the operator, adjust operating parameters, and obtain feedback in real time from the device screen, all without installing any extra equipment or requiring physical access to the door drive at the top of the car. This allows for easy access to operating data of all door components, the monitoring of their life-cycles, failures incurred during operation, their endurance and behaviors in various operating conditions, and all while remote data collection from each installed elevator can be managed in the Cloud. Real-time access to such data creates the ability to optimize maintenance and intervention activities, and to detect possible future failures and address them before they shut down the elevator.

Improved door electronics can also offer a viable interface to Augmented Reality (AR) service applications. By wearing head-mounted displays, service technicians can receive diagnostic instructions, complete with what procedures to apply and tools to use. This can in turn be an ideal tool for training staff and act as a best-practice guide to follow, particularly when working on more obscure, complex, or high-value elevator systems. And since troubleshooting can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for technicians, current and future AR applications may help to further reduce maintenance downtimes and related costs.

These changes are a bonus to the smooth operation of doors and the safety of the elevator technician.  

I wish everyone a Happy Holiday! May you be enjoying some time with family and friends, and I’ll see you again in the new year. 



Smooth Operators: Part I - Harmonic or Linear: The Evolution of Moving Elevator Doors

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, December 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Typical Harmonic door operator arrangement

Typical Linear door operator arrangement

It is often said that when one door closes, another opens, and so it goes with elevator door operators. As decades-old methodologies fade into obsolescence, today’s cutting-edge technologies are opening new views into the design, installation, functionality, and maintenance of the equipment that governs the movement of elevator doors.

The old-standby – dating back to the beginning of automatic operators and still in service today – has been the harmonic operator. In addition to the oft-noted issues concerning their weight and the space they consume atop cabs, harmonic operators are possessed of several inhibiting factors. They are comprised of many mechanical parts, slow-moving, and low in mechanical efficiency with a high operating noise level.

The performance of harmonic operators can be inconsistent from floor to floor. Their DC motors with open-loop or Variable Voltage, Variable Frequency (VVVF) control are inefficient, offer no protection against voltage fluctuations, and are more vulnerable to operational failure. Another major issue we find with harmonic operator technology is that installation is a difficult, time-consuming, trial-and-error process.

Conversely, linear door operators are based on a simpler, more compact mechanical design. These perform with much higher efficiency, and, since they require no lubrication, provide the advantage of lower maintenance. The door drive is managed by a dedicated electronic board, which makes adjustment and fine-tuning much easier, with self-learning operating parameters set by a dedicated control pad. The power supply is managed by a switching device, in the range of 90 to 290V, that protects the operator from voltage fluctuations and helps avoid resulting problems.

I’ll go into more depth about electronic and digital function that make for improved and smooth operation of the operators next time.




Columbia Elevator Used Innovative Design Expertise at 56 Leonard, NYC

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, November 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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56 Leonard Street, NYC

56 Leonard Street, NY, NY

Zero Clearance Door

Zero Clearance Door

Imagine walking into the ground floor of your condo complex, brushing past the concierge desk as you make your way toward the elevator. You press the button to take you up to your unit on the tenth floor. Seconds later, the door opens and you step out into your foyer. You are immediately greeted with breathtaking views of the NYC skyline through your 14-foot tall wall-to-wall windows and you think to yourself, “It’s good to be home!”  

Columbia Elevator helped make this imagination a reality at New York’s 56 Leonard St. condo. This luxurious building was designed by one of the world’s most renowned architects, Herzog & de Meuron, and has garnered the nickname, “the Jenga building.”

Looking back, we also made the job a reality for Schindler; initially, they didn’t think they could sell it. The architects’ design called for elevators with 36” openings, but Schindler only builds door operating equipment for openings that are 42” or wider. Schindlers internal sales reps were conditioned to just look at their quotation chart, say, “Sorry, we don’t carry this” and move on to the next potential job. A call to Columbia led to a little out-of-the-box thinking to use Schindler’s 42” wide equipment but restrict the doors to open just 36” on the 42” track.

There were several features that Columbia had to consider when designing elevator solutions at 56 Leonard.

For the Penthouse Floors with a single elevator entry to each apartment:

  • Allow private elevators to open directly into the upper-level penthouse units. We used secure, zero-clearance doors so that there is no space between the elevator door and the swing door.
  • Allow for an unobstructed, breathtaking view of the NYC skyline as soon as the door opens. This was also resolved by use of zero-clearance doors.
  • Provide UL label protection for all entrances. Columbia engineered a drywall swing frame that contained the UL label right on the swing entrance, as opposed to the sliding door. The sliding doors became simply decorative.

For the lower-level floors with two, or even four, units per floor, the elevators have regular, fire-rated UL entrances on the sliding door. Here we were able to provide support with a different design puzzle: include a built-light fixture into each entrance by using a “reverse” transom.

  • With traditional transoms, all you see is a jamb and two doors, and the transom is located right above the doors.
  • To reach the architect’s desired effect, we hung the transom down from the frame’s trim placed the transom one foot in front of the doors thereby hiding the light fixture and giving this fire-rated entrance a glow.
  • We replaced the typical 2-inch trim around the door with a hardly visible eighth of an inch-thick trim.
  • To maintain fire rating on this innovative design, we worked with UL and to get this jamb profile added to our procedure. Columbia Elevator was the first to ever built a reverse transom.

All of this was possible because Columbia Elevator was involved early on in the design phase. The architects liked the sleek and modern look so much that they decided to carry the look throughout the rest of the building. Everywhere - from the concierge desk to the pool and fitness center - features the same trim. In fact, my Estimating, Engineering, and Production teams like to say that the interior of 56 Leonard in NYC, was “elevated” because of Columbia’s creativity and design expertise!

If you have unique design issues for your elevators, contact our Customer Service Director or your Account Representative early in the process and we can successfully support your next project.