The Future of Vertical Mobility: Trends in Lift Technology

Vertical mobility is a convenient and necessary component of our rapidly urbanising landscapes. Denser populations are forcing cities to expand into the clouds, so technology must support the elevator industry in meeting demand. The global elevator market is expected to reach $94 billion by 2027 - so it's vital to stay on top of emerging trends that can ensure the best experience for users. 

Often, traditional lift equipment simply doesn't meet the needs of the modern-day client – with passengers waiting in crowds, pushing through for the buttons they need and being forced to experience longer dwell times on intermediate floors. Here, we'll discuss key trends and features driving innovation in this space to meet updated expectations and requirements. From smart elevators with IoT integration, sustainable designs, and advanced safety and security functionality to some of the contemporary lifts' more general designs and UX enhancements. 

Smart elevators and IoT integration

One of the latest and most significant trends in lift technology right now is destination control systems, which allow users to select their destination before entering the lift. This dramatically improves efficiency and passenger flow, using sensors within the shaft and car to collect and analyse data. The data provides real-time monitoring, remote diagnosis (the Internet of Things technology), and predictive maintenance alerts. 

This means technicians can review the operational efficiency of lifts to anticipate issues proactively and, as a result, minimise disruption to users by reducing downtime. The destination control function directs users to the best lift for their required destination with the fewest intermediate stops. It also provides extra comfort for users as they don't need to wait in a crowd to push the button inside the lift car. 

Another significant benefit to this technology is that it can be pre-programmed to anticipate peak hours of use, divert users, and reduce overcrowding in waiting zones. For users who need more space and time to reach their allocated lift, this is a perfect solution to distribute people and minimise discomfort through overcrowding. Smart elevators with features like this are changing the game for vertical mobility, offering enhanced efficiency, improved safety, increased user satisfaction, and a calm and orderly boarding system. The global smart elevator market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9% from 2020-27, so it's wise to get ahead of the curve and invest in the future of lift technology.

Sustainable designs in elevator engineering

Sustainability is taking centre stage in all things engineering, and elevator developments are no exception. From energy-efficient lighting to regenerative drives, most businesses are actively seeking options to help them reduce their carbon footprint—an area often overlooked with elevator equipment. Upgrading lifts to utilise energy-efficient LED lighting can save up to 45% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs, increase the lifespan of your lighting, and improve cost-effectiveness. They're also significantly cheaper and easier to replace. 

Elevator regenerative drives are becoming increasingly popular, too. These devices allow the lifts to generate power as they travel up and down the shaft, saving and recycling energy, reducing operating costs and increasing efficiency. An added benefit to these devices is their ability to actively reduce wear and tear on system components, adding longevity to lift life. 

Using sustainable materials in the construction of lifts is not just a trend, but a responsible choice. Recycled materials such as glass, aluminium, and steel conserve natural resources, reduce waste, and minimise environmental impact. With its durability, quick growth, and low VOC finishes, sustainably harvested bamboo is an increasingly popular choice for interiors. These construction choices benefit the environment by reducing carbon footprints and building owners through cost-efficiencies. The UK government also encourages using energy-efficient lifts through the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme, further enhancing the economic benefits of greener technologies. By adopting these sustainable designs, we can contribute to a greener future.

Enhancing safety and security 

The latest advancements in elevator design prioritise safety and security. AI-driven surveillance, advanced algorithms, and machine learning enhance maintenance processes, optimise elevator systems, and improve user experience. These features can detect hazards and emergencies, trigger automated responses, and provide restricted security access, ensuring the safety and security of elevator users. 

In the UK, where lift safety is regulated by the Lifts Regulations 2016 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, these advancements are instrumental in helping businesses meet the requirements of the law. With the introduction of smart lifts also comes touchless human-machine interaction (HMI), which allows users to order lifts without touching public surfaces – reducing the risk of spreading viruses and bacteria and improving the safety and hygiene of the equipment. AI technology can support a comprehensive safety package for any elevator design when paired with other technological developments.  

User experience in the vertical journey 

As elevator design has evolved, pleasing aesthetics are becoming increasingly desirable and can function as architectural statements within the design of a building. In both residential and commercial buildings, designs are becoming progressively bolder and more eye-catching. Many luxury lifts incorporate elaborate or sleek designs, with premium finishes on cabin doors and even lighting explicitly tailored for the user. There have also been improvements in recent years with the functional design of the interface panels, which improve aesthetics and experience, such as lighting on the selected button, cancel floor functions, specific alarm buttons for different emergencies and contactless panels. 

Sought-after elevators don't just perform an A to B function – they also entertain the user's sensory experience. It's important that the interior design adds a welcoming ambience and blends well with the external aesthetic of the building. This will vary depending on your desired application and aesthetic - stainless steel screams modernity, whilst premium woods can add warmth. Adding artwork to cabins, bespoke lighting, and audio soundscapes can tailor the lift to the individual and evoke different moods for the user. When purchasing cabin interiors, this added investment in technology and design can significantly elevate user experience and satisfaction and reduce negative sentiment if any issues occur on the journey.

Elevating urban futures: the promise of innovative lift technology

The future of lift technology and design holds great promise for urban mobility – and as technology develops, we will continue to see new waves of accessibility, convenience, and luxury emerge within the elevator market. Integrating smart elevators, sustainable materials, safety features, and unique interior design will transform the world of vertical mobility. 

We're paving the way for more efficient and desirable transport ahead of the curve. For more information on these trends and how they can benefit your business, reach out to our team of friendly experts today. 

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Caledonian Lifts Manchester Ltd, The Cheviot Suite, Earl Business Centre, Dowry Street, Oldham OL8 2PF