Maybe I have not been traveling to enough large office buildings or hotels lately, but on a recent visit to the Sheraton New Orleans, I came across the first truly intelligent elevators I have ever seen.
We all know how elevators traditionally work - you push an up or down button, wait for the first available car going in your direction, pile in with everyone else and push the button for your desired floor. The elevator then stops in sequence at each floor chosen, meaning you may have several stops before you get to your floor.
The Sheraton's new elevator system approaches the problem differently. Rather than asking passengers to make an up or down selection as a first step, this system requires passengers to select a floor number before they even get onto a car. Once inside the elevator, passengers can no longer make a floor choice. Instead, they only see a list of potential stops. Moving this critical 'which floor' information one step forward in the process allows the elevator system to group passengers by floor, thereby avoiding the 'milk run' to multiple floors required by traditional elevator set-ups.
With the new system, as with the old, there is no guarantee that a car will be available for you the instant you want it. But with the intelligent grouping of passengers, you can expect a shorter ride to your final destination.
To a simulation guy who has made a career out of trying to improve systems, this seems revolutionary. I have seen banks of elevators grouped for low floors and high floors, or penthouse only elevators, but I have never seen a truly intelligent elevator system like this one. Once again, maybe I just don't get out enough.
As a simulation instructor, this stuck me as not only a smart system, but also a great learning exercise. So, we are offering a $50 gift certificate to the person who can create the best simulation(s) to compare a traditional elevator with this new "batch" elevator. If you are interested, please send us an email using the contact form and we will forward you the parameters and assumptions for this little competition.