MULTI: A game changer for the elevator industry
MULTIple elevator cabins in a single shaft, the dream of every skyscraper architect and the wish of many people waiting in line for the elevator! Together with our customer thyssenkrupp Elevator we are at the verge of this technical breakthrough. End of 2015 we started the development of the propulsion system for an elevator without ropes but driven by linear motors instead. Using swivel platforms, the cabins can move both vertical and horizontal, which allows them to change shafts and thereby creating a fully independent paternoster elevator.
thyssenkrupp Elevator as a visionary partner
thyssenkrupp Elevator is a German company having its origin in steel, but if you wander around at an airport or if you take an elevator anywhere in the world, there is a big chance you will see their name on either the moving walk, the airport tunnel connecting to the airplane, or any elevator. thyssenkrupp Elevator is an innovative company focusing on new technology in various aspects. They aim to be the first elevator manufacturing company in the world to make a groundbreaking change in the way elevators work. They want to build a rope-less elevator.
The idea to build an elevator without a rope isn’t new, and has numerous advantages such as increasing the capacity and removing the building height limit. The height limit results from the increasing rope diameter and length which causes the rope to sway and even touching the sides of the shaft when buildings move due to wind or earthquakes. Eliminating the rope removes this limitation, and the capacity can be increased by having multiple cabins travelling independently within the shafts. Hence the name “MULTI”. Moreover, for the same capacity, the floor space can be reduced since fewer shafts are required which compensates the cost increase of this innovative elevator for high rise buildings.
Design for manufacturability on a system level
To build such a rope-less system, thyssenkrupp Elevator wants to use linear motors, propelling the cabins using electro-magnetism. This is where Prodrive Technologies comes in the picture.
Prodrive is chosen to be the strategic partner for the entire propulsion system. This means: the linear motors, the drives, and even the motion control. Prodrive Technologies is chosen because of its strong and diverse engineering competence, combined with its willingness to take (sub-) system responsibility. Furthermore, Prodrive is taking vertical integration to a new level, enabling our company to design for manufacturability on a system level, and this is exactly what is needed to make the MULTI system a success.
Around June 2016, we completed a test track in our own lab to start with component and system qualification. This was very important, it enabled us to debug the system at our own premises and to make sure that everything went as smooth as possible during on-site integration. Soon afterwards, we ramped up to series production of linear motors and drives.
thyssenkrupp Elevator test tower
To test this system in full scale, thyssenkrupp Elevator built a 246m test tower in Rottweil. Two shafts in this building are now fully equipped with our linear motors, drives, cabling, and Prodrive Motion Platform. On the 22nd of June 2017, there was a public announcement of their breakthrough technology.
The extra mile
The MULTI project had an impact on many aspects within our company, from technology to manufacturing to human resources and planning, we all had to go the extra mile to make it happen in the limited time available. None of this would have been possible without an enormous effort of a great team and a fruitful collaboration with our customer, thyssenkrupp Elevator. At this moment, we’re in the industrialization and certification phase of the project, tackling new challenges which lie ahead. You can read all about this in an article in the latest release of “Mechatronica & Machinebouw”.