Days of lift planning slow down planning progress

March 19, 2023

  • New BIM-compatible lift configurator reduces the time required by architects and planners to a maximum of 2 hours
  • Simple file input with automatic plausibility check minimises risk of error

Static models that have to be adapted manually for each project make the planning of lift systems a time-consuming and cost-intensive undertaking. Architects and specialist planners use self-developed tools, drawings and calculations in a wide variety of programs that are often not compatible with each other. This makes the collection and evaluation of data more difficult – for example, because an automated transfer is not possible and errors are often discovered late. Until now, there has been no adequate solution to this problem, because BIM-compliant 3D models from component manufacturers that are available to specialist planners, as is common in other building services sectors, are completely lacking here. Now, however, there is a remedy: Lift Engineering GmbH has developed the Lift Configurator, a manufacturer-independent BIM lift configurator that fully supports the design of a lift. The programme combines project planning and component selection with plausibility and collision checks. The BIM Lift Configurator is the only software on the market that automatically takes into account all applicable regulations and points out conflicts as soon as they are entered. With the intuitively operated configurator, the time required for standard lift planning is reduced from approx. 2.5 days to just 1-2 hours.

“Lift planning involves a whole series of different steps and criteria that take up a lot of time,” explains Henry Steinmetz, Managing Director of Lift Engineering GmbH. “First of all, all the data of the premises where a lift is to be installed have to be gathered. Then the installation parts have to be searched for and selected, and the offers have to be obtained, managed and evaluated. Only then do detailed planning and product selection begin.” Many specialist planners create their own models for this, but they are usually static and therefore have to be adjusted manually for each project, so the process can take about two to three days in total.

The planning of lift installations involves a whole series of different steps and criteria that take a lot of time,” explains Henry Steinmetz, Managing Director of Lift Engineering GmbH. “First of all, all the data of the premises where a lift is to be installed have to be gathered. Then the installation parts have to be searched for and selected, and the offers have to be obtained, managed and evaluated. Only then do detailed planning and product selection begin.” Many specialist planners create their own models for this, but they are usually static and therefore have to be adjusted manually for each project, so the process can take about two to three days in total.

For the collection and evaluation of the data, planning tools developed in-house are used, but also manual drawings and calculations in different programmes. Since data transfer is not automated, errors often happen, especially in more extensive planning work, which later cause additional costs and hinder the progress of the project. “It can happen, for example, that the contracted lift company discovers after the contract has been awarded that the required components, do not match the shaft planning, says Steinmetz. “In the worst case, the plans have to be changed and the architect and structural engineer have to work again, which also results in additional costs.” This can also lead to a planning delay.

This situation is exacerbated by the fact that Building Information Modelling (BIM) is still hardly widespread in the lift sector for design planning, in contrast to other building services industries. “Currently, there are no 3D models of the component manufacturers available for the general technical planners that consistently record and manage lifecycle-relevant data as well as enable an automated exchange between the project participants,” explains Steinmetz. “This is partly due to the fact that there are only a few lift manufacturers for BIM projects, who usually only offer their standard products as a complete BIM 3D unit.” This means that neutral, manufacturer-independent planning is not possible and competition is largely restricted as a result.

Error reduction through simple input masks and data checking in real time

Lift Engineering GmbH has therefore developed a new tool that fully supports the planning of a lift and at the same time can be used independently of components. The BIM Lift Configurator programme includes project planning and part selection as well as plausibility and collision checks. It is optimised for network operation so that all data and information can be processed on a central online server and used online by any number of users. “The software has a basic standard mode and an expert mode,” explains Steinmetz, who was in charge of developing the programme. “While the latter gives lift experts a lot of leeway, the effort of configuration is reduced to the essential steps for less experienced users in the basic mode: the input of the basic data for lift selection, the selection of car and doors, the calculation of shaft and elevation section of the building as well as the definition of machine room and maintenance areas are kept to a minimum. To make work easier and to help with input, more than 200 sample templates of various norm and standard lift types are available for selection, for which, provided the technology meets the requirements, only the structural requirements need to be adjusted”. Then a final check of the parameters is carried out. Finally, all the necessary 3D models of the lift can be exported automatically to the 3D system (Revit) via an ad-in interface. The information does not have to be copied or migrated, eliminating a major source of error here.

In addition, all entries can be tracked and checked interactively directly on the screen via graphic displays of the shaft floor plan, elevation section and machine room. “With other planning tools, on the other hand, it is common for the drawing not to be fully visible to the user until the CAD model that is to be created from it is finished,” explains Steinmetz. During the input itself, the user is supported by the lift configurator in two ways: On the one hand, algorithms calculate, for example, the rail division and the resulting position of the fastening levels (built-in parts) in the shaft. On the other hand, plausibility checks are available for each input mask and can be carried out on request. They are based on the know-how of the respective component manufacturers and the applicable standard specifications. In case of errors, the tool gives immediate feedback and prompts for correction, if necessary, before the next mask can be called up. “Certain specifications or components are fixed,” says Steinmetz. “If, for example, the lift car is selected too large for the existing shaft, the drawing in the programme shows this immediately.”

Time expenditure of 1-2 h maximum per lift planning.

Of all the available software, this lift configurator is currently the only one that takes into account all the applicable regulations, such as the EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 standards, and provides feedback during use if a component or calculation does not comply with the specifications. “While a ‘normal’ 3D lift design can take about 2-3 days, the planner only needs 1-2 h with the BIM Lift Configurator,” explains the managing director of Lift Engineering. However, features such as the many predefined parameters and the drawing that is created in parallel do not only mean time savings: “The configurator makes it possible to conveniently try out various options without detailed knowledge in lift planning. Every user can be sure: The software ‘stops’ me if something is not entered in accordance with the standard or is calculated incorrectly,” Steinmetz sums up.

The LE BIM Lift Configurator is compatible with programmes and planning tools from various component manufacturers. Lift Engineering currently provides versions in four languages: German, English, French and Spanish. The desired 3D models can currently still be obtained from Lift Engineering on a project-specific basis at the download conditions. The configurator will soon be available online and can then be used for an annual licence fee. The 3D BIM models comply with VDI 2552 (LOD 300) and can be inserted per lift as a complete family directly into the overall BIM project to be created for a flat download fee. A licence is purchased for the desired number of downloads via an online payment system to activate online access. The project-specific modification service for the created models is included in the download flat rate.

More information on the BIM Lift Configurator at: www.lift-engineering.de

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