Social distancing has potentially become the most used term of 2020 so far, and with the re-opening of buildings and the need to re-adjust to a ‘new normal’ it is a vital behaviour that will be a part of daily life for quite a while to come. Lifts have long been equipped with an overload alarm to ensure that if the maximum weight limit is exceeded the lift will not move. However, we have now moved into a new time where an overloaded lift is not only defined by a weight limit, but also the maximum number of people allowed within the lift car whilst still maintaining social distancing.
Lifts are a key area of risk due to the enclosed space, and understanding how many passengers are in a lift at any one time, and whether passengers are following social distancing guidelines, will become a crucial piece of data to analyse the effectiveness of social distancing policies. Occupancy sensing and people counting in the lift car, long considered “nice to haves” or even gimmicks in the lift industry, will become increasingly important to help support buildings in their re-opening safely.
Lifts will be put under increased activity with the need to reduce the number of passengers in the lift car at any one time. Even with the number of people in a building reduced there will be an increase in the number of journeys carried out by the lifts.
In some cases, a lift rated to carry 20 passengers will only be able to carry 2 passengers whilst following social distancing guidelines. Staggered start and finish times in office blocks will also have an impact on lift usage, as well as the reduced capacity for carrying passengers.
This increase in the number of journeys could mean more frequent maintenance visits to account for increased wear. Re-opening buildings is likely to be stressful enough without lift breakdowns causing even greater queues and crowded lobbies.
Even simple data such as the number of times the doors open and close can give valuable insight into how much additional wear a lift is experiencing and this will help lift maintenance companies to determine if your lifts need greater attention during this period.
Avire is developing people counting and other smart technologies to improve the safety of passengers in existing lifts and the visibility of lift data.
Avire will soon be launching the ESD (Elevator Social Distancer) to help buildings remind passengers of the need to social distance. Stationing additional staff in all lift lobbies would be inefficient and increases the risk to those staff. The ESD will encourage building users, lift passengers specifically, to maintain social distancing. Avire’s solution will monitor how many people are in the lift car and if the number of passengers exceeds the pre-programmed “social distancing limit” an audible warning will play, and the lift doors will be held open, delaying the lifts departure. This will allow Facilities Managers to demonstrate that they are actively alerting passengers to social distancing requirement without placing staff at additional risk.