Charging skyward at the push of a button

Skyscrapers without an elevator? Unthinkable. Thanks to the expertise of TÜV SÜD, elevators in tall buildings are becoming safer all the time

High, higher, highest: Burj Khalifa.
Video: Getty Images

The Burj Khalifa is the world’s highest skyscraper, at 828 meters. Visitors ride to the top in an elevator with the greatest rise anywhere: 504 meters. The safety of elevators in these skyscrapers has the highest priority.

Arabs in white dishdashas step in. A group of tourists follows. With a hydraulic hum, the elevator doors close in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. “Here we go,” says a woman enthusiastically. Indeed, the elevator car accelerates at a tremendous speed. The passengers look at the digital display in surprise. The floors fly by faster than seconds on a clock – until the car coasts to a stop at 124.

In less than 60 seconds, it has reached the “middle deck,” where a second elevator will transport them up to an elevation of 638 meters. At 36 kilometers per hour or ten meters per second, this is the third-fastest elevator in the world. The tourists are very excited about the acceleration. But is the elevator safe, too? They aren’t even thinking about that at the moment.

Elevator safety has top priority – in the world’s tallest buildings as well. TÜV SÜD inspects elevators all over the world. Around 300 experts in this area work for the company. “These days, we are dealing with highly complex, software-controlled systems,” explains Dieter Roas, Head of Lift and Escalator Technology at TÜV SÜD Industrie Service.

TÜV SÜD experts are already on hand for elevator commissioning in new buildings. They inspect the technical documentation in advance. Then they check the system itself, affix the inspection plate in the elevator car and take care of the electronic documentation afterward.

Owners and managers of new and existing buildings can, of course, entrust regular inspections of the elevators after commissioning to TÜV SÜD’s experts as well. For those inspections, they bring along an elevator repairperson to fix any defects as soon as they are identified.

Highly complex elevator systems place ever higher demands on inspectors.

It comes down to this: An elevator with a TÜV SÜD inspection plate ensures the greatest possible safety for passengers.

Ever higher demands are being placed on TÜV SÜD’s specialists in this sector. “In the future, buildings will keep getting higher and the elevators faster,” says the Head of Lift and Escalator Technology, Roas. Elevator manufacturers are currently working on new drive systems such as linear motors. These will transport passengers up and down even faster. Then elevator inspectors will have to expand their knowledge yet again.