“Nothing is permanent, other than change. Changes are inevitable in the lift industry…”
written by Andrew Ralphs, edited by Wayne Brown
I find myself reflecting back over the last 36 years in the lift industry. Delighted by my many varied and diverse experiences….
As an apprentice, being tasked with wiring door locks on 12 high-rise lifts with 30+ floors was quite daunting. I certainly don’t recall any mention of it during the interview discussions with the John’s Waygoods training officer.
Never the less, changes are inevitable in the lift industry.
By 3rd year, there was a need to commission an avalanche of various units, so we went off and did the best we could, no mobile phones to call for help and no google to research how components worked. All our needs were met with a simple pager, what a wonderful piece of technology.
The system was simple – and so was life then…
- The office would page once if they needed me to call
- The supervisor would page twice if he was downstairs and wanted me to come down.
- (Most importantly) my girlfriend would page three times if I had to pick up that essential litre of milk or bread on the way home. Even the occasional roast chicken for dinner! (Not much has changed here).
Changes are inevitable in the lift industry…
In the early ’90s, mobile phones started, and didn’t we think we were so amazing. We could store ten numbers and toggle to roaming for only $2800 upfront cost and around $450 / month. Such functionality, how could the future improve on this?
A car kit with its separate handset and internal aerial became a “must-have.” Crucial for those long trips to regional worksites and calling home, just because you could.
Add to this new essential hardware a $3200 Toshiba Laptop and half-sized mono-color screen. Complete with lotus123, word perfect 5.0, and a 20 meg hard drive. No windows or mouse back then, just a DOS operating system. And wholla, the new mobile office was born. If only we knew what was coming next.
In the late ’90s,…
I was very fortunate to visit the New York World Trade Center’s newly modernized lifts. Observing that solid-state drives were replacing generators, I felt that my range of experiences had reached its highest point.
Additional excursions to Mexico and Asia (in this century) have taught me to stay open-minded. And be willing to accept all new ideas and concepts.
Lower Manhattan, World Trade Centres.
More recently I was challenged by yet another new experience…
A twin drive 15-tonne lift installed around the 1970s now required conversion to solid-state. Google and the mobile phone weren’t going to help here. Fortunately, an old textbook about “slip ring “motor control was an amazing reading.
The experience renewed my profound respect for those that achieved such miracles of their day. Having the engineering smarts to design this “one-off” was remarkable. Additionally, having that system still operating nearly 50 years on was simply incredible.
Once again, I was in admiration of our forefathers. To achieve such exacting and reliable control over huge loads with relays and contactors was a great achievement. So much so, and I thought it worth sharing.
According to the Legends…
Many historians have reflected on past experiences and have also noticed the same common thread, that “Nothing is permanent, other than change” (Heraclitus, 500BC) and “Change is inevitable in a progressive society. Change is constant”. (Disraeli 1867).
The humble mobile smartphone affects our daily lives socially and how we now work. We currently use this device to access and achieve countless business functions. Performing tasks such as accessing databases, completing work tasks, reports, and timesheets. We receive emails, connect to and adjust parameters for lift and escalator controllers. Even able to adjust floor levels and door operator speeds.
In some cases, we use it as a phone to ring people and talk. Although this feature doesn’t work that well, and the call tends to drop out often! Yes, the humble phone has altered the fashion in which we operate. The complexity of our business, while being automated, has also created a prolific growth of controller types. All with multi-software options capable of managing changes in codes and other features. Even without the need to rewire or replace a single relay.
A note from your host...
It’s so great hearing these short stories, which we can all relate to – well at least the Legends among us! For some, young executives, perhaps even our Innovators and Cheque Writers, these stories are straight from the history books.
The key message here for me, is that whilst business may seem different today at surface level, the reality is that it remains a lot like personal values. When you get right down to it, some things just haven’t don’t change.
Until next time, stay safe and keep learning!