9 August 2012 – At Barangaroo South, in the new office precinct next to the Sydney CBD,  Schindler Lifts Australia, will use one of the biggest lift contracts ever awarded in Australia – for 106 lifts – to show that elevators can not only move people around efficiently but do it with  sustainable outcomes, even pumping recovered energy back into the building systems.

If you’re like me, you stand in front of them, push a button, step in when they arrive and spend your time studiously avoiding eye contact with anyone else.

Lifts. They may not be sexy but they are essential to every commercial development happening today.

At International Towers at Barangaroo South Schindler Lifts Australia, will use one of the biggest lift contracts ever awarded in Australia – for 106 lifts – to showcase the latest in lift technology and efficiency.

According to managing director Alex McFarlane, Schindler’s PORT – that’s Personal Occupant Requirement Terminal – technology will deliver fewer lift movements through efficiency and the latest technology in elevator design and highly efficient permanent magnet motors.

The company’s Power Factor 1 drives will reduce energy consumption by up to 35 per cent compared to standard drives and regenerate energy back into the building’s electrical system.

The recovered energy can be used to power other building demands such as lighting, airconditioning or other equipment. It also generates less heat, providing additional savings through reduced cooling requirements for the machine rooms.

And that’s not all.

Each PORT terminal’s proximity sensor tells it when to be active and at all other times puts it into low energy consumption mode.

When the terminal screen illuminates, an ambient light sensor determines only the brightness level required, again optimising energy usage.

During light traffic the PORT Energy Control Option places nonessential lifts, in real time, into an energy-conserving standby mode.

Meanwhile, the elevators themselves are made from lightweight but hardwearing components.

Key to the technology is the ability to respond to the individual needs of the building’s occupants, Mr McFarlane said.

“The system’s visible aspect is a sleek, futuristic device positioned at access points and elevators around the building,” he said.

“Behind the touch screen is a patented access control software system, capable not only of calculating the optimum route to any destination within the building, but also of ‘learning’ how its occupants typically move around.

“With this information, PORT Technology primes the elevators to direct and transport people quickly and safely to their individual destinations.

“The system uses card readers or other media using radio frequency identification and near field communication technology to identify passengers and automatically call elevators taking them efficiently to their desired floors, customising and personalising each trip to an individual’s specific needs.”

In simple terms, the lift system knows that the next person to arrive at Elevator 3, for example, will need a little longer because they are visually impaired. They will also need spoken instructions as doors open and close and destinations are reached.

In another case scenario, someone with a mobility issue also gets longer to reach the lift, enter and leave, while a person with autism would be given a consistent path through the building each day.

The system can also “learn” how many people need the lift at a certain time to arrive at work by 9 am and who heads out for a lunch break, and from what floor, at 12.55 pm.

“PORT Technology recognises occupants and responds to their individual needs – even down to, and I am not saying this would happen – ensuring a boss doesn’t have to travel with his staff,” McFarlane said, tongue in cheek.

“What makes the system special is the ease with which the building’s manager can manipulate the system to respond to a wide range of needs in real time.

“Whether it’s helping to meet new energy-efficiency goals, updating security, scheduling maintenance or adapting to people with special needs, unprecedented levels of customisation can be achieved.

“Perhaps the easiest way to explain it is that it’s like an airport. You don’t just turn up, choose a gate and hope the flight gets you where you want to go. This allows us to allocate into gates.”

Mr McFarlane said the allocation was coupled with discussing with a building’s tenants what their lift requirements were, with questions like how long they were prepared to wait for a lift.

Once that was known, lifts could be held for a permissible waiting time, to allow more occupants travelling to the same floors to ride together.

The company trialled the idea at 1 King William in Adelaide and after two weeks’ training had occupants asking if more lifts had been installed because of the added efficiency.

Mr McFarlane said the Barangaroo South project was the largest awarded to Schindler Lifts Australia and “one of the largest contracts awarded in Australia and internationally”.

It would showcase the Australian company to the market, he said.

“We are particularly proud of being partners with Lend Lease on this project.

“It will make Barangaroo South a landmark site – and a landmark for Schindler Lifts.”