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n this article, Richard Clarke, Director at Schindler UK, a leading provider of lifts and escalators, looks at some of the key issues surrounding the specification of lifts to help public sector estates managers ensure the highest standards in safety and reliability.

Lifts are an essential means of providing vertical transport for all users, from the very young to disabled, elderly and infirm people and others unable to safely use stairs – but are one of the few types of transport available for continuous unsupervised use. They can also be one of the safest modes of transport when designed and maintained to strict standards.

In large and complex buildings such as hospitals, lifts are even more critical, providing access for patients in wheelchairs or beds travelling between theatres and wards, and are fundamental to maintaining efficient traffic flows.

The life cycle of a lift is longer than most other forms of transportation and building equipment, which means that lift design has to be carefully considered to ensure ongoing safety, performance, and accessibility.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR NEW LIFT EQUIPMENT We would always advise that the lift manufacturer works closely with facilities managers or the users at the design phase of a project. This will allow the precise usage requirements to be ascertained prior to manufacture and the lift specialist’s experience can be used to add value to the project.

In a hospital environment, for example, lift specifications are clearly set out in HTM guidance. However, the estates manager may not be aware of the latest advancements and innovations in lift technology that can significantly enhance security and traffic flows. As a starting point, look closely at how each lift will be used. It is important to separate different types of uses – passenger lifts for staff and visitors, and FM lifts for transporting supplies and equipment.



A major challenge in all large buildings is how to move visitors around the building, particularly at peak periods, quickly and efficiently. We would recommend running a traffic simulation programme to assess the expected passenger numbers in order to calculate the number, size and speed of lifts required. This will help avoid queues forming in lift lobbies at peak times. For example, in a hospital environment we need to know the number of patient beds and visitors allowed. Are visitors allowed at any time or are visiting hours between set periods? If the latter, there will be heavy use at peak periods and requiring potentially more lifts. We would also expect these passenger lifts to be used to move staff around the building, as well as visitors, so would look at staff numbers and typical arrival and finish times. And consider the location of staff changing facilities, which should ideally be near to the lifts. Consideration also needs to be given to bed passenger lifts for a healthcare environment. These keep patient movements separate from the day-to-day running of the building to preserve dignity and privacy, and facilitate infection control. The operation of these lifts to meet specific building requirements should be discussed during the planning stages.

When specifying bed passenger lifts, we look at the specification and size of hospital beds to be able to specify the correct car size. Hospital beds are now very sophisticated. What equipment will the bed have with it and how many people will accompany a patient? With this information, we can ascertain the lift door sizes, and lift car requirements.

Doors also need to be capable of staying open for longer when moving beds compared to standing patients. Using the latest lift technology, this facility can be automated and door opening speeds can be varied according to each use.


FM trolley lifts will transport supplies across the building complex. An option in larger buildings is for lifts to be linked to

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