Looking Ahead to 2021

I’ve been seeing a lot of optimism for 2021 lately, with vaccines beginning to be distributed and a nightmarish year coming to a close. As we celebrate the holidays, it’s a good time to think of and thank those working on the front lines of the pandemic.

KONE’s story of its technicians working overtime to help turn a Hubei, China, medical center into a 1,000-bed hospital in 48 h for COVID-19 patients was an early example of what so many in our industry did in 2020 to help the healthcare workers who sacrificed so much to care for those who fell ill. In the technicians’ case, they overcame many difficulties to prepare 18 of the elevators in the facility for handover within 24 h. One, Gao Wei, had some good advice for any year: “The secret was to focus on tackling problems rather than letting your emotions take control. That’s all.”

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Technicians worked through difficult conditions in restrictive suits to get the hospital’s elevators ready for handover.

“Terrifying,” “Shocking” Escalator Incident With a Happy Ending

News outlets, especially more sensational ones in places like the U.K., love reporting on elevator and escalator incidents involving people — especially young children — finding themselves in dangerous situations. Sometimes, fingers and toes are ripped off. In one tragic case, escalator steps crumbled, causing a woman to fall into the mechanisms below to her death. One recent escalator incident, reported by outlets including Yahoo News, had a far happier ending, with a young boy emerging unscathed after riding up the entire length of an escalator at a mall in Thailand — gripping the handrail with his small hand as his older brother looked on. Although properly manufactured, maintained and installed elevators and escalators are indisputably a very safe mode of transportation, a mall representative observed that this incident, captured in the video below, serves as an excellent reminder that parents should ALWAYS keep a close eye on children, especially around vertical-transportation equipment.

Tallest Ride

The new escalator; image from Reddit via City Pages

Every human endeavor has its superlatives: the best, the fastest, the strongest. Whether we’re talking about athletic competition, academic achievement or technological advancement, somebody always seeks to hold up an accomplishment as an aspirational example. This is no less true of the vertical-transportation industry. To wit: The Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport recently completed work on what it says is the new tallest escalator in Minnesota. City Pages notes that it was built over the summer of 2020, along with a new parking ramp at the airport’s Terminal 1. Some facts:

Length: 118 ft

Height: 55 ft, 2 in, or about five stories

Speed: 100 ft/min

Capacity: 9,000 passengers/h

Travel time: 75 s

The airport says its new escalator surpasses the state’s previous record holder, the 47-ft-tall moving stairs at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. While the new parking ramp and escalator were not immediately needed, thanks to the pandemic-related travel slowdown, this new machine stands ready for large crowds as passenger traffic rebounds.

You can watch a video of the installation and use below: