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Current trends in the design of elevator doors in respect of modernization, energy savings and vandalism
Thomas E. Lernet, B. Engr. Lecture delivered on March 1, 2011, during the Heilbronn Lift Conference. This years event focused on Modernization of Elevators and Buildings/ Concepts for Modernization and Safety brought up to the state of the art in terms of safety standards. When retrotting or replacing car doors, the option for installing a system of photoelectric beams is often discussed. This should be considered as an alternative only where the structural situation prevents installing vertical or horizontal sliding doors. Other technical and organizational prerequisites will have to be satised in addition in order to achieve a satisfactory degree of protection against personal injury. If we take a closer look at the structural situation in older freight lifts not tted with car doors, then it quickly becomes apparent that the space present at the side, between the car and the hoistway wall, is often very limited.
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New design of elevator doors for use in modernization

Modernization? Of course, but not at all costs. Elevator planners, operators and builders are being confronted with this problem ever more frequently nowadays. The Operational Safety Ordinance went into force in Germany at the end of 2003 and ever since that time there is greater liability risk for operators of freight lifts that lack doors on the car itself. Since freight lifts are generally considered to be systems used by employees to carry out their work, i.e. moving loads, Title 5 of the German Occupational Safety Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz) requires employers to carry out a hazard analysis and implement any and all measures necessary for safe use. There is no provision for operation of such elevators in non-compliance under a variance or continuation permit (grandfathering). Also adopted in 2003, this time at the European level, was EN 81, Part 80, the Rules for the improvement of safety of existing passenger and goods passenger lifts. This was published in Germany by the DIN standards organization in February 2004. Table A.1 assigns a car without doors to Category I (catastrophic) in regard of the consequences of any incident. By contrast, the frequency at which damage is encountered is assessed as Category D (seldom). It can be seen from Table A.2 that, based on this hazard constellation, the safety deciency can be eliminated in short order. There are about eight million elevators presently in operation in Europe half of them already more than twenty years old. About 650 incidents involving these lifts are reported each year; about twenty such accidents can be traced back to the lack of a car door and have serious or fatal consequences. Thus it is hardly surprising that many European countries including Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden passed legislation some years ago, requiring that lifts be

will in all events be increased when an interior door is added. Particularly when dealing with low-payload lifts, it will be necessary to examine the traction capacity, the driving system and the counterweight. In the case of smaller lifts with access from both ends, it is necessary to keep in mind the surface area needed so that the elevator mechanic can stand on the cars roof.

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Hoistway wall a

Shown in Figure 1 is the additional sweep area that will have to be taken into account when installing a pair of center-parting, folding doors

To accommodate this situation, special door systems have been developed. Among them are folding doors, sectional doors moving either horizontally or vertically, and sliding doors that move upwards or downwards. No matter which system is used, the useful oor area inside the car will be reduced to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the exact model selected. Folding doors also require a swept area inside the car. If one assumes that the car will not be replaced as a whole, then the cars weight


The sketch in Figure 3 shows a sectional door that opens upwards, similar to roller shutters

Figure 2 shows an around-the-corner sectional door which moves horizontally to the side of the car

Parts 1 and 2 of the EN 81 standard limit the travel speed for vertical car doors to a maximum of 0.3 meters per second. Center-parting, four-leaf sliding doors are often used to replace hinged doors. This is done to minimize the narrowing of the clear door width. To ensure that the remaining useful oor area inside the car is not decreased any more than necessary, the overall depth of the total pack of sliding door panels is of major signicance. The elevator builder has a number of models such as the Slimline to choose from. When selecting a product it is necessary to consider not only the in-


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These sets vary considerably in their extent and capacities. In most cases only individual components such as drives and door couplers are replaced; they are modied to match existing headers. Other parts subject to wear such as rails, rollers and door guides are not replaced. Another modernization concept promises Many elevators equipped with powered the owner or operator long-term benehoistway and car doors are getting up in ts. Changing out the entire car door, inyears. As a consequence they have not cluding the door panels and the threshrepresented the state of the art for some old, ultimately cuts costs over the long time now. When undertaking moderniza- run due to uninterrupted availability of the elevators. The coupler system for this door is matched specically to the locking system for the hoistway doors, which remain in place. These doors are normally installed in elevators that are subjected to heavy use. That makes it necessary to select stable door designs and high-qualFigure 7 shows a modernization concept in which the drive and ity door components when carrying out a complete rethe wearing parts are replaced placement. In most cases, tion measures, cost considerations often the door recess or pocket in the car and preclude replacing the car door and all of the oor will have to be modied to the hoistway doors at once. An alternate match the new door. When choosing Figure 4 shows the design principle for a vertioften adopted is to retain the hoistway such a system, it is worthwhile to think cal sliding door that can move either upwards doors and the connections between about modernizing or replacing the hoistor downwards to open those doors and the buildings structure, way doors at some time in the future. In as these connections are of- this regard it is necessary to ensure that ten quite elaborate. Follow- replacing the door coupler system and a ing this strategy, only the few minor components will preserve the car door will be replaced. interplay between the new hoistway They are frequently more doors and the (no longer new) car door. than twenty years old, making it difcult to obtain New designs for elevator doors, spare parts and almost impossible to purchase a new aimed at energy conservation car door. To solve this prob- Given the unrelenting rise in energy costs, lem, components manufac- the energy used for elevator operation turers are increasingly offer- will be an ever more signicant factor in a ing retrot sets for doors buildings overall energy costs. Current Figure 5 shows a door that telescopes upwards to open frequently found in use. and future legal requirements will also impact elevator engineering and will force the operator to undertake measures to improve energy efciency. The elevators total energy use is made up of the individual consumption values for a large number of components and will be affected by the specics of the building itself. The rst meeting of the committee formed to draft the standard VDI 4707, Sheet 2, convened at the VDI Building in Dsseldorf on February 5, 2009. This standard deals with methods for labeling and evaluating elevator components. The goal is to enable universally comprehensible, practice-oriented evaluation of elevator energy efciency as per VDI 4707, Sheet 1. A working circle reporting to this Figure 8 shows a version of the center-parting, committee was charged with determintwo-panel car door Model QKS 9 developed ing the energy consumption levels both by the Schindler company especially for Figure 6 shows a sliding door system that can replacement purposes be used to replace hinged doors during operation and in stand-by mode

stallation dimensions and the price, but also the strength of the door panels, the thresholds load-bearing capacity and the amount of effort needed to replace any components subject to wear. It may also be necessary to examine the doors suitability for installation in re-resistant or reproof elevator hoistways.



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for elevator doors that incorporate the state-of-the-art technology. Measurements conducted by a number of manufacturers using a variety of doors showed that their energy consumption played only a minor role during the reference trip dened in VDI 4701, Sheet 1. That trip is used to determine the energy consumption class during travel. The power used to open, close and hold the doors is only very little when compared with total elevator energy demand. This statement is easily conrmed by way of the calculation that follows. Our example involves two-panel hall and car doors, opening to one side, with doors 900 mm wide and 2000 mm tall. The average energy drawn during an opening and closing cycle was found to be 80 mWh. The door drive unit consumed 18 W when holding the door in the open position, 15 W when holding the door closed. According to Table 1 in VDI 4707, Sheet 1, Use Category 2 (and fty percent of the lifts in place in Germany fall into this category), the average idling time is 23.5 hours per day, making for annual energy consumption of about 5 kWh. If one takes 0.20 per kWh as the electricity price, the costs come to about one euro per year. The consumption in the idling mode with the door drive permanently under power, which is still the state of the art today, corresponds to costs of 26 euros. Given these numbers, it makes good sense to take a closer look at the door drives stand-by consumption. The most energy is wasted by the continuous application of power to the drive when the door is closed; this power is transformed into heat. In many cases, however, switching off the door drive is prevented by the engineering design for the door coupler. When power is removed, the spring causes the coupler to spread; this unlatches the hoistway door and interrupts the safety monitoring circuit. The elevator controls interpret this as an open door and send a close door command to the door controls. This is the start of an endless loop. The electronic door control unit requires far less energy. It receives commands from the elevator controls and forwards them to the door drive. The closing and opening speeds, acceleration and deceleration, and permissible static clamping force and kinetic energy as dened in Parts 1 and 2 of EN 81 are all stored in the door controls or are calculated on the y. Detection of the door panels positions is handled by the door controls. Using limit switches to sense door position has become more or less obsolete. Such switches are used nowadays only in purely mechanical door drives or under special circumstances in areas subject to explosion hazard, for instance. If one were simply to switch off the door controls in or-

fer. This is true especially for handicapped persons, including wheelchair users, who cannot reach the platforms without elevators. Elevator vandalism not only involves property damage but may also present a hazard to subsequent elevator users. Particular attention has to be paid to the hoistway doors since these are intended to protect passengers from falling into the shaft usually with fatal consequences. For laypersons this would seem at rst glance to be a bit odd; the safety of technical equipment throughout Europe is, after all, uniformly specied by a number of standards and regulations. That is why we want to take a closer look at the safety rules applicable to the design and installation of electrically powered elevators for passengers and freight (DIN EN 81, Part 1). Section 7.2.3 of that standard describes the minimum requirements for the mechanical strength of hoistway doors. A force of 300 N, evenly distributed over an area of 5 cm2 and applied at right angles to the door panel and at the least favorable part of the panel may cause neither permanent deformation nor more than 15 mm of elastic deformation. The safety function of the door shall not be diminished either during or after such a test. When manual force of 150 N is applied at the most unfavorable point along the leading edge of the door panel, the gap thus created shall not exceed 30 mm for side-opening doors and 45 mm for center-parting doors. Figure 9 shows a car door with a clamping mechanism on the door Once EN 81, Part 1, coupler system and an additional door limit switch went into force, it soon became apparent that these values ensure a certain degree New designs for elevator doors of safety only if the elevator is used in acto counter vandalism cordance with its intended purpose. Even Media reports seem to be ever more fre- minor vandalism could cause the guide quent: violent assaults by criminals, usu- elements for the door panel or the entire ally young, in public areas and public tran- door to fail; a person could fall into the sit facilities. These reports are usually hoistway. Several such accidents have accompanied by calls for improved sur- conrmed this in real-world practice. The veillance in public areas and tougher pun- Eisenbahn Bundes-amt is the German ishment for offenders. Not quite as spec- federal government agency responsible tacular as aggression against people for monitoring safety in railroad operbut far more numerous are the many ations. It quickly realized that the specied examples of malicious property damage strength requirements were far short of and vandalism. Elevators for public use actual needs for hoistway doors used at are frequently the targets here. All across railway stations and on platforms. BeginEurope, mischief like this leads to operat- ning in the year 2000 and in cooperation ing malfunctions in many elevators. with the Steel and Lightweight Alloy EnPrompted by this, the German Railways gineering Laboratory at Munich Technical have seen t to publish up-to-date noti- University and the commercial rm Meilcations of such malfunctions on the In- ler Aufzugtren GmbH, that authority deternet. Immense amounts of time and veloped special testing procedures based money are expended to repair the eleva- on the draft prEN 12 600 standard. The eltors but it is the users, above all, who suf- evator industry also recognized decits

der to save energy in the stand-by mode, then the controls would no longer sense changes in the door panels positions. To prevent damage in such an event, the rst movement of the door, once the door controls have been switched back on, is always executed at very low speed. This movement is referred to as an orientation cycle and is not to be confused with the learning cycle that is executed when the doors are rst put into operation. An orientation cycle for an elevator takes quite a long time and would hardly be accepted by elevator users as a power saving strategy. Instead, users would interpret the slow door movement as a malfunction and would feel this to be a considerable detriment to comfort and convenience. Newly developed door coupler systems are thus tted with detents and clamping units which keep the coupler from spreading. Once they are switched on, modern door and elevator controls rst query the positions of the door panels, either via the safety circuit for the hoistway doors or via an additional door limit switch in the car door. If the safety circuit is closed or if the doors nal position is unchanged which is almost always the case the rst door opening cycle will be executed at full speed.



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here and drew up EN 81, Part 71, Vandal resistant lifts. This was published in Germany in July 2005 as DIN EN 81-71. Dened in this standard are three classes of elevators, corresponding to the requirements set forth in EN 81-1/2. A Class 0 elevator is designed to satisfy the basic requirements of EN 81-1/2. Class 1 provides for additional requirements to protect the elevator against moderate vandalism. Class 2 includes measures to protect the elevator against more vicious destructive acts. Here again, as in EN 81-1, pendulum shock tests are prescribed for sheet metal door panels. The impact device corresponds to the leather bag described in EN 81-1/2, with a mass of 45 kg and a falling height of 70 mm for Class 1 and 1000 mm for Class 2. The elevator door shall be fully functional after the pendulum shock test. A more demanding second pendulum shock test is prescribed for both classes. Here a falling height of 1400 mm is used; the door shall continue to fulll its function after this stress test. These requirements can usually be met only with additional retention systems. Depending on the manufacturers concept, these systems may be afxed at the door panel, the door frame and/or the door panel guide. Other special safety devices to protect against unauthorized emergency unlatching, willful destruction and inserting an object at the leading edge or edges are required only for Class 2. In order to achieve these safety objectives, the access opening for the emergency unlatching release is concealed with a cover mechanism. This is deactivated manually at the elevator controls and will have to be automatically reset after a period of 30 or 60 minutes has elapsed. An additional header cover at the hoistway and car doors will reduce the hazard of a vandal damaging the doors using one of the objects listed in Table 1. Pushing objects through the slit at the leading edge of the door or doors can be prevented with an interlocking cross-section at those edges or with an additional latch at the threshold. A car door latch is required in general for Class 2 elevators. Since these measures can increase the costs for elevator doors considerably and signicantly expand the effort required for assembly and installation, those responsible for planning elevators should carefully consider which specications they include in their tendering texts. In most cases it is a matter of enhancing protection against the doors being dislodged and preventing subsequent falls. Thus it is usually entirely adequate for the tender documentation simply to specify elevator doors tested as per EN 81-71, Class 2, instead of a complete elevator complying with Class 2.

Table 1: Objects used in the past in acts of vandalism

Objects used by vandals Ball point pen Rope / Twine / Wire Keys Cane or walking stick Chewing gum Cigarette Weight of the human body (75 kg) Cigarette lighter Pocket knife (100 mm blade) Medium-size screwdriver (200 mm long) Bottle cap Side cutters (medium size, without additional functions) Elevator class 1 2 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

economies involved here. In most elevators, investments in energy-saving components will pay off only when the original systems become defective and have to be repaired or replaced. In this context one should also remember that new components will, however, incorporate the state of the art and can often increase ride comfort and system safety. We cannot design elevator doors in such a way as to prevent vandalism. But the effects of mischief can be reduced. This, in turn, will increase availability. In the interest of cost containment, I would once again appeal to the planners and engineers, suggesting that they dene the specications for the elevator precisely and not require that the elevator as a whole adhere to certain standards. Lecture delivered on the occasion of the 2011 Heilbronn Lift Conference
About the author Thomas Ernst Lernet, B. Engr., studied mechanical engineering at the Augsburg Technical University, specializing in thermal and process technologies. After completing his studies he worked for ve years in an engineering ofce, devoting his attention to the development and engineering of special-purpose soldering and cleaning systems. In the following ve years he was associated with a large, middle-market company that manufactures systems of components used by the construction industry. There he assumed engineering responsibility for the acoustic and thermal insulation division. Since 2000 Mr. Lernet has headed up the technical department at Meiller Aufzugtren GmbH and in May of 2008 was appointed to an executive position with signature rights. He serves on a number of national boards and committees and is a member of the DAfA (German Elevators Committee).

New standards and directives repeatedly give the manufacturers of elevator doors reason to rework and rene their products. As the elevators already in place in Europe become older and older, there will be increasing need for modernization work. Innovative and customized concepts will be required, suitable for design and manufacture within a short period of time. This represents a major opportunity for the small and medium-sized companies in the European elevator industry because they can quickly cater to and satisfy regional requirements. The topic of energy conservation is becoming ever more important and should be taken quite seriously. Signicant savings can be achieved in new systems with careful selection of elevator systems and components. Operators of existing elevators would be well advised to scrutinize energy-saving measures proposed by elevator builders and to examine the


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