The added value of access control: delivering time and space efficiencies with integrated lift destination controls
“We’ve all found ourselves in the situation where you walk to an elevator bank, call a lift on your side of the lobby at the same time as someone else calls a lift on the other side of the lobby. You both get in opposite lifts, and the next time you see each other is when the doors open on the same floor and you come face to face. This is somewhat embarrassing for the individuals, but for facilities managers and building owners it’s a terrible waste of building resources.” Ray Phillips, Managing Director at ACS Ltd.
The short video below briefly outlines how integrating Vertical Transportation Systems (VTS) and Destination Control Systems (DCS) with entrance control turnstiles can improve building efficiencies as well as enhance user experience. For greater detail, continue reading…
Over the years, there has been a growing demand for entrance control solutions to add value by co-ordinating seamlessly with other security and building management elements. Terms such as interoperability and compatibility have driven product development, new system combinations and closer relationships between manufacturers, integrators and end users.
Tony Smith, Major Accounts and Marketing Manager, at Integrated Design Limited, comments: “Entrance control solutions are no longer separate from other security and non-security systems and, crucially, Fastlane turnstiles have the capability to work in co-ordination with all known security and building management systems. We have been developing ways of working seamlessly with CCTV and intruder detection systems for decades, but more recently – over the past year or two – we have noticed a growing requirement for connecting Vertical Transportation Systems (VTS) and Destination Control Systems (DCS) to our turnstiles, particularly in the US and the Middle East.”
So, what has been driving the demand for this kind of lift integration, and how does it work? We spoke to one of our partners – Ray Phillips, Managing Director at ACS Ltd – who designs and develops intelligent elevator control software that can be linked to a Fastlane turnstile, and invited him to share his thoughts on how this can improve building efficiencies as well as user experience.
Ray comments: “Standard lifts don’t know where an individual is going until they are in the lift car and they deliver the command by selecting their floor on the lift panel. The lift cannot be efficient if the first time it knows where you’re going is once you’re already in it – it’s too late at that point to tell you that lift C is already going to floor 3, so get in that one instead. If you’re able to inform the lift of the user’s expected destination before they get into the lift car, we can direct the passenger to the most suitable lift, shortening wait time and resulting in a quicker journey, as well as lowering energy costs for building managers. The integration of access control turnstiles with lift destination control systems facilitates this.”
Creating a link between the card reader and the building’s control systems
So, how does this kind of integration work? In the case of an elevator system, the method of operation can range from a low-level link between a card reader located in the lift car, to a high-level link between ACS’s xPLAN system and the VTS provider’s servers. Such high-level systems would typically incorporate a mix of call-giving i.e. informing users which lift car to take as they pass through a turnstile, and landing call terminals which only allow passengers to select destination floors from a defined list managed within the xPLAN software, which is capable of storing preferences and credentials relating to an individual.
The lift supplier provides a display for the top panel of the access control turnstile and for installation on the walls of all landings. When you present your entry card at the turnstile, the xPLAN software accesses data held on what floor you typically work from or any other relevant information, and alerts the lift bank that you have arrived. “Drawing on this personal data allows for a personalised experience as well as one which optimises efficiency. For example, you might be a VIP and therefore always be directed into a scenic lift, or HR might have noted that you suffer from vertigo and should therefore never be directed to a scenic lift,” comments Ray.
Speed of action is key to user experience
When users approach an entrance control turnstile, they don’t even want to break their stride, so the reader needs to validate a user’s credentials quickly. In the short amount of time it takes someone to scan their card at the turnstile, and for the turnstile to allow access to an authorised user, the software alerts the lift system as to the required floor and sends a message to the display in the turnstile, directing users to the most suitable lift. If there is capacity, the system will then hold a lift where the doors are just starting to close, if it realises the user is coming through and needs to access the same floor as the other car occupants. If a person isn’t going to their ‘home’ floor – because they’ve got a meeting on the top floor, for example – they present their card at the lift device in the lobby and, because the system is intelligent and can be simply over-ridden, it will abandon the original call and follow the directed instructions to call a new lift.
“For a lift integration, the primary objective is to enable fast and efficient transit of people through the building,” says Ray. “Fastlane turnstiles have advantages over other comparable products due to their speed of throughput – authorised people are kept moving freely – ensuring that key fractions of a second are not lost by disrupting the flow of people through the perimeter. Also, since there is a degree of physical integration required at the turnstile, a key benefit for installers is Fastlane’s ability to customise the Fastlane hardware at its UK production facility, to enable the card reader and destination control system display to be housed seamlessly.”
The integration of pedestrian entrance control turnstiles with lift destination control systems doesn’t just result in time efficiencies; it can also maximise security, increase space efficiencies and lower energy consumption and costs.
By integrating access control with the lifts and destination control system, the same throughput of people can be achieved with fewer numbers of lift shafts required, freeing up lettable floorspace for landlords, providing huge cost savings in terms of elevator fit out as well as reducing energy usage. The floors of a new building are constructed around the lift core, so this kind of integrated system needs to be specified at the very start of the planning process if it is to achieve maximum space efficiency and cost savings.
Tony comments: “Our Glasswing units, integrated with a lift destination control system, are used in The Aldar HQ Building in Abu Dhabi to ensure that use of the lifts is more time efficient and energy saving, which is in line with the US Green Building Council LEED rating system. The Fastlane Glassgate 250 is also popular in the Middle East, having been installed in the King Abdullah financial district in the Asahafa area of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Its popularity is due, in part, to its capacity for a large number of integrations, including the lift destination control displays, thanks to the unit’s slightly larger size.”
Compliance benefits for building integrations
Another benefit of this type of integration is that an entrance control system can collect and share information to enable more effective management of the building and control of its occupants, and supports compliance with certain regulations.
“Access control systems hold a vast amount of data about a building and its users – i.e. who is onsite at any given point, where they are in the building, where they are likely to be going, areas they have authorised access to and, importantly, where they don’t,” continues Tony. “Knowing when an area is occupied and by how many people allows for that knowledge to be used by other building management systems, such as heating and lighting, providing opportunities for further cost savings through better use of energy.”
Ray adds: “Some of the vertical markets we work with are heavily regulated and are mandated to control and declare who could gain access to an asset. We see this compliance reporting as a key factor in the client’s buying decision. There is, of course, the more traditional and obvious health and safety aspect, where building occupancy is a requirement. However, we are also seeing these same roll-call functions being reviewed outside of the evacuation scenario, to enable estates planning based on ‘utilisation’ of building floorspace.”
An enhanced experience through integration
It’s clear that there are many benefits to integrating access control and lift destination control systems, both for building users and owners/managers. In summary, for building occupants this integration provides greater security and smoother transit through a building, offering an enhanced user experience. For building owners and managers, the integration allows for validation of occupant credentials, perimeter control around elevator banks and secure floor access, not to mention the significant cost savings possible by freeing up lettable space as fewer numbers of lifts are required to achieve the same throughput, reducing fit out costs and lowering energy consumption.
If you’d like further information relating to access control and lift destination control integrations, please get in touch with our team on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email email@example.com.