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Continuing economic growth and urbanization have driven demand for ultra-high-rise buildings in Asia's major cities. These trends have also driven keen demand for innovations in the vertical infrastructure, including elevators. In Guangzhou, China, construction is currently underway on the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, an ultra-high-rise multi-purpose building. Hitachi has received an order to deliver ultra-high-speed elevators for this building. Hitachi, which already operates a center in Guangzhou, was selected for its extensive track record in this area. Hitachi's new challenge is to develop the world's fastest elevator, while keeping safety and a comfortable ride as key priorities.
With rapid economic growth, more and more large skyscrapers have emerged in large cities in Asia. Especially in China, construction of buildings that are more than 300 meters tall is booming. These ultra-high-rise buildings help optimize land utilization in crowded cities. To create these buildings, it is essential to install reliable technology like elevators that many people can ride comfortably and without anxiety.
Hitachi delivered six ultra-high-speed elevators for the Shanghai World Financial Center
Hitachi has a long history of providing ultra-high-speed, large capacity elevators. This history dates back to the 1960s when Hitachi delivered the fastest elevators in Japan at that time to the Kasumigaseki Building, which was one of the nation's first high-rise buildings. Since then, Hitachi has continued in its research and development efforts, responding to the demand for ultra-high-rise buildings. In 2010, Hitachi constructed the G1TOWER, which is the world's tallest structure for elevator research*2 and it has been conducting field tests for ultra-high-speed, large-capacity elevators and developing environmentally friendly products.
Hitachi has been involved in the elevator business in China since 1980. In 1995, Hitachi established the Hitachi Elevator (Guangzhou) Co., Ltd., which is now the Hitachi Elevator (China) Co., Ltd. located in Guangzhou, this Chinese corporation manufactures, markets and provides maintenance service for elevators. The company began operations in the Guangzhou area and became the top company in China for new elevator construction in terms of market share.
Since then, Hitachi has strengthened its elevator business in China by having Hitachi Elevator (China) Co., Ltd. act as its managing company there. The company has built manufacturing plants in Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Shanghai. One example of results in China is the ultra-high-speed (480 meters per minute), double-deck (two story), large capacity elevators that were put into service in the Shanghai World Financial Center in 2008. In 2013, a new state-of-the-art manufacturing plant was built in Chengdu to provide products and services to meet the changing needs of customers.
Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre (Rendering of finished building)
The traction machine was produced in the Mito Works, Hitachi, Ltd. in Japan. Hitachi achieved its goal for increasing power needed to build the world's fastest elevator while also decreasing size.
In 2014, Hitachi took on a new challenge in Guangzhou with a project to deliver the world's fastest elevator at that time for the ultra-high-rise Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, a 530-meter-tall building that was under construction. To succeed, the ultra-high-speed elevator would need to be able to go from the ground floor to the 95th floor (a distance of 440 meters) in just 43 seconds. This involved not only the technology for power and control, but Hitachi also had to guarantee the safety and comfort of passengers.
The most difficult challenge was keeping the elevator safe and comfortable for riders while reaching speeds of 1,200 meters per minute. Naturally, it becomes more difficult to keep the ride safe and comfortable as the moving speed increases. To resolve these difficulties and create this ultra-high-speed elevator, Hitachi developed one of the world's most powerful permanent magnet motor traction machines (330 kW) and strengthened the durability of the cables that move the elevator cars, which significantly reduced the burden on the traction machines. Further, Hitachi developed an electromagnetic brakes using braking materials able to withstand temperatures of 300 degrees Celsius so that the ultra-high-speed elevator could stop safely and precisely. In addition to the utilization of proprietary power and control technologies, Hitachi focused on the safety and comfort of passengers in the elevator and developed active guides to reduce vibration in the elevator car. Hitachi also added proprietary air-pressure adjustment technology to reduce ear problems associated with changes in air pressure in the elevator car.
Altogether, Hitachi installed 95 elevators for the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, including two of these ultra-high-speed, 1200-meters-per-minute elevators, 28 double-deck elevators, and ultra-high-speed elevators that run at 600 meters per minute.
Raising a traction machine at the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre
Hitachi has completed the task of lifting the traction machines, a key component in the ultra-high-speed elevators. It is currently working to install the elevators. In a speed test in May 2016, the elevator achieved a speed of 1,200 meters per minute, a world record at that time.
In June 2017, another speed test was performed with the same elevator in the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre as part of efforts to develop new elevator technologies. Based on additional improvements in control and safety systems, the elevator achieved a speed of 1,260 meters per minute (75.6 km per hour), another world record.
The actual speed for everyday operations at the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre has been set to 1,200 meters per minute. Hitachi is currently working on final adjustments before the building opening.
Growing numbers of high-rise buildings are expected to be constructed in China, the country which is said to account for 60% of the world's elevator demand. Elevators can be seen as infrastructure for vertical mobility in cities. This is an important factor in making cities more convenient and efficient, along with trains and roads, which are infrastructure for horizontal mobility. To help make urban life more comfortable, Hitachi will continue its efforts to innovate and provide ultra-high-speed, large capacity elevators.