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Plan & Design

3 ways to minimize disruption during elevator modernization

The people who use your building rely on elevators to get them around quickly and safely. When the time comes to modernize the elevators, it can cause major disruption. Here’s how you can minimize it.


As an office elevator system ages, you’ll notice a drop in performance. That’s when it’s time to call in the experts. But how can you do that without making life miserable for your tenants?

These days, there are a range of technologies that can limit disruption in your commercial building during an elevator modernization. In this piece we’ll look at three of them:

  • Destination dispatch systems: optimize the performance of the elevators still in service.
  • The latest elevator machinery: can be assembled in the elevator machine room, reducing the need for invasive construction work
  • Phased modernization: break the project into segments to manage your budget better and keep tenants happy.

In most buildings, elevator modernizations are tricky. But in office buildings, the periods of extremely high traffic pose unique challenges. These are typically first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and when everyone rushes home at the end of the day.

During these times, elevator systems are often running close to full capacity. Now imagine removing one of the elevators from service for a modernization. The waiting time, which no busy person enjoys, could become unbearable.


1. Destination dispatch systems

Optimize the performance of your remaining elevators

One of the best ways to minimize the impact of an elevator modernization is by using a destination dispatch system. This technology optimizes the performance of the remaining elevators. So, you can take an elevator out of service without affecting traffic flow and frustrating tenants. What’s more, you can install the system before you’ve even started the modernization.

With a destination dispatch system, such as Schindler PORT 4D, the passenger selects their desired floor before they get into the elevator. The system groups passengers by destination. This eliminates unnecessary stops and gets passengers to their destination faster.

A destination dispatch system brings other benefits too, such as access control and energy savings. You can designate areas like the lobby or restaurant as public zones, while accessing other floors might require a keycard. Fewer trips also mean less energy. With Schindler PORT’s ECO mode, you can achieve energy savings of up to 40%.

2. The latest elevator machinery

Reduce the need for invasive construction work

It takes a lot to move a 1,600 kg capacity elevator 20 flights. To produce the required power, you need big machines. The machines in older high-rise buildings are often the size of a small car and can weigh up to 10 tons. Buildings were literally constructed around them.

Modernizing a system like this is no easy task. Your building is no longer a shell with large open spaces for moving massive machines.

Thankfully, technology has also evolved. Today’s machines can be assembled directly inside elevator machine rooms, minimizing construction work and disruption. The machines arrive in smaller parts that fit through hallways and doors and can be delivered to the upper floors using the existing elevators. The machines are even installed based on the footprint of the old building so the support structures stay unchanged.

3. Phased modernization

Manage your budget and keep tenants happy

The third way of managing elevator upgrades efficiently is with phased modernization. If you want to minimize upfront costs and the impact on your tenants, this could be the right solution for your building. A phased modernization is typically completed in two steps.

First, the "brain" of your elevator is upgraded. A new control system boosts the performance, ride quality and traffic handling of your elevators, all while improving energy efficiency and meeting the latest safety standards.

Second, the remaining components (such as the machines and doors) are replaced. This approach gives you the benefits of a new elevator while being kinder on your pocket and minimizing disruption for your tenants.


Where to find funding for your elevator modernization

The construction industry, and building themselves, are major contributors to CO2 emissions worldwide, accounting for almost 40% of all global emissions. To achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that direct emissions need to fall by 50% as soon as 2030.

To help meet these targets, many governments are offering COVID recovery packages designed to increase renovation rates in older buildings and drive investment into low-carbon buildings. This includes funding for elevator modernizations. So, if you’re planning a commercial elevator modernization, it’s worth investigating what support is available via government bodies.


Don’t leave your elevators in the past

Modernizing elevators is always a serious undertaking. But thanks to the latest innovations to make your modernization run smoothly, there’s no reason to keep your elevators stuck in the past.