Manufacturers of marine elevator systems continue to refine concepts designed to facilitate the movement of passengers around a ship
Cruise ships and ferries are getting ever bigger, and more passenger services and attractions are being packed into the space on board. Ensuring a safe, orderly and rational flow of passengers that maintains a high level of customer satisfaction can be a challenging task. The leading technology suppliers in the marine elevator business are continuing to refine their systems, in particular harnessing the power of the latest communications and data transfer technology, to ensure high levels of operational and energy consumption efficiency.
Italy’s Schindler Marine has in recent times introduced new technology to the cruise ship market in the shape of its Personal Occupant Requirement Terminal (PORT) system, designed to manage passenger flows better and speeding up the time taken to reach the required destination. It also considerably reduces energy consumption, Schindler claims.
PORT manages passenger flow in what, the company argues, is an innovative way. Instead of pushing a button and waiting for the first available elevator, passengers only need to select their destination on the PORT touch screen terminal in the lobby to be directed to a specific elevator car which is taking the fastest, most direct route to their deck. This reduces the number of intermediate stops that are usually made with a conventional system. Radio frequency identification (RFID) technology can also be used to operate PORT-equipped elevators.
The “destination control” approach relies on the principle that, if passengers know their destinations before they enter the elevator, those people travelling to the same floor can be assigned to the same car, thereby minimising the number of stops each has to make. Cars return to the lobby quicker to pick up more passengers and overall handling capacity is improved. In addition, the more efficient management of passenger flow reduces the number of starts and stops of each elevator with a consequent reduction of energy consumption, since these are the times when the elevator needs the most energy.
PORT has a touch screen interface, is interactive and can be personalised on the basis of particular deck configurations or owner’s requirements. It can also be tailored to meet specific passenger needs – for example, of those people with disabilities.
There are also safety related benefits as, in the event of an emergency, elevators can play an important role in helping to achieve efficient evacuation processes. PORT technology provides passengers with clear instructions, telling guests not to use the elevators and ensuring that anyone approaching the elevator is told what to do and where to go by indicating the nearest emergency exit or staircase. As well as visual messages, audio instructions can be deployed through the PORT system.
Schindler Marine has been actively marketing PORT to the passenger shipping sector and extensive tests have taken place on board a number of vessels. However, the company has yet to announce a full scale installation on board a ship.
Schindler Marine is benefitting from the current upturn in cruise ship building and has a healthy orderbook for its elevator systems. In 2016 the company equipped six new ships in six different shipyards, totalling more than 160 elevator installations. In 2017 Schindler is going to deliver elevator products for two new Viking ships, as well as a new MSC Cruises cruise liner building at Fincantieri in Italy. Other contracts include vessels being built for Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Costa Crocieri, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Saga Cruises.
Another leading cruise ship elevator supplier, Kone Marine Solutions, is also working hard to develop better ways to ensure that people, and goods, flow around a ship in a reliable, safe, efficient and pleasant way. The company is, for example, offering various combinations of operating modes with its elevators, including boarding, dining, gangway and medical priority modes. It can also provide controls connected to the operation of lift shaft lighting, and regenerative drives to enhance energy saving.
One of its most recent innovations is the Kone Group Controller (KGC), which is designed to improve handling capacity and shorten waiting intervals. Kone’s head of marine sales Jarkko Pekkala says: “The purpose of the KGC mode is to automatically handle traffic peaks on certain defined decks by selecting specific elevators within a group for automatic boarding and peak traffic operations. The KGC improves the level of service by compiling statistics on average passenger traffic on each floor, in both the up and down directions. Based on these statistics, it forecasts daily traffic for each 15 minute period during the day. As a result, the elevator group controls can be optimised and set according to both the expected and the real traffic situation.”
The installation of advanced guidance and intelligent software on board is a key trend identified by Kone in its ongoing newbuildings supply programme, which includes equipment for Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Edge, MSC Cruises’ MSC Vista, Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas, Dream Cruises’ Genting Dream and other new ships for Virgin Voyages, Norwegian Cruise Line and TUI Cruises. Mr Pekkala adds: “We are seeing a growing requirement for elevator systems to be fully integrated into ships’ networks and other key systems. We are also providing more flexible systems which can serve different customer segments and destinations.”
More focused on the ferry and superyacht segment, The Netherlands-based Lift Emotion has also recently introduced new technology to enhance its product range. In particular, the company has upgraded its lower rise elevator systems with the inclusion of a special inverter on the hydraulic power packs. This results in a 50 per cent reduction in power consumption, the company claims.
Mike Brandt, director, says: “Old fashioned hydraulic type systems have a disadvantage in that after several rides the oil can begin to warm up, causing the system to stop. With our inverter system and special power pack this is a thing of the past.”
There are also benefits in terms of passenger comfort, he suggests. “With the new system, passenger comfort and sound production inside the trunk of the elevator will be much improved. Traction driven elevators have a drive motor in the trunk that you always hear. Our enhanced systems will be even more silent and the rides will be much smoother.” The enhanced technology can be supplied as an upgrade to existing elevators, as well as for new installations, the company points out.
Lift Emotion has been working to supply elevators for a number of newbuild ferries and superyachts over the past year. The company has strengthened its position in the latter segment by developing a new procedure to save time installing glass-finished elevators on board. Last year the company completed a lift installation on a yacht of more than 100m in length in just three days. The normal fitting time for a glass elevator on board a yacht is six to eight weeks.
Lift Emotion pre-assembled the lift at its facilities in Meppel. The glass elements were mounted on the lift and after assembly the modular glass elevator installation was transported to the building yard, where the complete elevator was hoisted on board the yacht at an angle of four degrees. In recent months the company has also secured projects in Asia and Europe, has delivered elevators for several Norwegian ferries, including special stairlifts required by the Norwegian Maritime Authority, and has a major refit in progress at a US shipyard, equipping a vessel with three elevators, all with inverter drives.
Mr Brandt says: “I think our strong point is that we can care for the smaller projects, as we are not in the market for bigger cruise ships with high rise elevator requirements. We also focus on delivering nice looking, bespoke elevators. Owners can further benefit from the fact that we use open source materials that make elevator maintenance possible by third party, local service companies.”