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The importance of Vertical Transportation Consultants

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Amit Maitra

The increasing complexity in vertical transportation demands that the developers and architects take the help of elevator consultants to get optimum customer satisfaction and cost benefits, writes Amit Maitra, Managing Director, Lerch Bates Pvt. Ltd.

The skylines across India, be it in metro cities, or smaller towns are changing fast. Buildings are growing taller as a result of which the Indian Vertical Transportation (VT) industry has shown consistent steady upward growth

We have all come across situations in many buildings, some of which were built years ago, where the buildings have very inadequate elevator systems, resulting in occupants and visitors experiencing poor quality of elevator service. And, we as Consultants are often asked why it is not possible to have lifts like those operating overseas here in India?

In developed countries, it is an accepted practice to utilise the services of a Lift Consultant when embarking on a building project, (whether it be a developer, Architect or General Contractor), just like it is done in other key disciplines like structural, MEP, landscaping etc. Today, almost all reputed Architects will insist on engaging the services of a VT Consultant.

A good elevator design must always be based on an independent Traffic Study taking into consideration a realistic estimate of the number of people needing lift service in that building. In this exercise computerized analysis or simulation, the Quality of Service (lift speed) & Quantity of Service (Handling Capacity, viz number of lifts having correct required size needed) are determined based on estimated building population, traffic patterns  and laid down design criteria. Both these key parameters are reviewed to determine the appropriate number of lifts needed for a particular type of building, including the lift car capacity as well as the appropriate lift speed. The Indian Standards also provide general but useful guidelines on suggested lift Handling Capacities and speeds.

In a residential building having a deep shaped lift car, capable of carrying a person on a stretcher is very essential. It is equally important to locate the number of lifts in the correct position of the floorplate to make access user friendly, supplemented by Audio visual signage’s and signals to facilitate people movement, informing the user of lift arrival in advance so that they can position themselves correctly in advance of the car arrival.

It is essential to provide the optimum number of lifts, in terms of capacity, speed, conforming to the National Building Code including Fire Lifts, and ensure appropriate Fire evacuation procedures in a trauma situation. Above all in a high rise building, safety of the occupants is paramount, and it becomes vital to ensure that users fully understand safety evacuation procedures, as well as Fire Lifts provided comply fully with Code requirements.

As buildings get taller they tend to become more complex in terms of both design and end usage, hence it is most essential that lift design be properly done correctly by using proper expertise right at the concept design stage, so that the buildings elevator system is “user friendly”, technically appropriate for the application, energy efficient and cost effective.

It is recognized that elevator companies quite rightly tend to “push” their respective products & services, which is their role, in business. They also bring their latest technologies to suit various customer needs. VT Consultants role is to select the best technologies which will suit each particular building’s needs. But this being a specialized line of business not everyone understands the intricacies and complexities of VT clearly. However, a VT Consultant helps in providing solutions based on his knowledge of available technologies, expertise and experience; his role is to provide the most genuine advice in an open, fair and transparent manner. In other words, a VT Consultant adds value at every stage of the building development and construction project, in terms of designing and recommending the best lift system appropriate to the building’s needs as per space requirements, and costs, which owners later realise from the overall significant savings. Consultants must also provide a non-biased professional opinion on the VT system, as against a vendor’s recommendations. There are documented instances where VT Consultants have reworked VT designs based on their knowledge and experience, which has helped in reducing the equipment numbers needed, thus saving costs to the developer.

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