MULTI is a rope-free elevator system capable of truly transforming how our buildings and cities are shaped. Free from ropes and using linear technology, this revolutionary design moves elevator cars both vertically and horizontally like in a continuous metro system, with multiple cars per shaft. MULTI brings greater capacity and shorter waiting times to users; it sets no limits in building height or shape, allowing architects to completely rethink designs; and it saves a significant amount of space inside buildings, improving the business case for real estate developers and investors. It launches in 2021.
Simply said, buildings are getting higher, wider, and more complex and traditional elevators aren’t keeping up. Instead, they’re limiting builders who want to go above and beyond.

Urbanization is also ramping up and that leads to higher buildings. At 400-500 meters, traditional rope technology meets its limit. Besides that, it’s a waste of building space to use such high shafts for just one cabin. It’s like operating one train between two cities on one track, instead of using a flexible number of trains in a loop on a parallel double track. In very tall buildings, what ends up happening is that up to 50% of floor space is taken up by technical equipment, elevators, and escalators.

MULTI is a real game changer. Because it moves sideways too, building design won’t be limited by the vertical alignment of elevator shafts. That allows for more visionary ideas that couldn’t be realized until now.
The best comparison is with a suburban train system. It doesn’t make sense for suburban trains to stop at every small location—they focus on bigger train stations. There, passengers transfer to buses. With elevators, we count on a combination of different technologies. MULTI serves as a shuttle; it shuttles passengers to locations within reasonable distances. Passengers will still travel shorter distances via rope-bound elevators. That’s why we consider transfer stops every 50 to 100 meters reasonable for MULTI.
The primary difference is that MULTI moves multiple cars in a single shaft vertically and horizontally. Plus, it’s the first rope-free elevator ever. It works with linear motor technology, which we’re already using with the magnetic train and our moving walk system ACCEL. This technology allows us to activate only those sections where cars are located. The active part is on the shaft side and the passive is on the car side. So, energy is only consumed when cars speed up, move, or slow down.

As mentioned before, with multiple cars per shaft, MULTI frees up additional space and offers a 50% higher transportation capacity than conventional elevator technology. The same number of people can be transported with half the number of shafts. This is not only great for building designers but it’s also great for every person who uses elevators in their daily lives.
The biggest change is that passengers can hop on every 15-30 seconds due to an increased handling capacity. A Columbia University study showed that in 2010, New York City office workers spent a cumulative 16.6 years waiting for elevators compared to only 5.9 years spent traveling in them. The best way to save time is to cut waiting times rather than just speed up elevators.

Sometimes, MULTI will be used together with traditional elevators because a MULTI cabin won’t stop at every floor. The idea is to choose your destination at the beginning of the trip. Then, when leaving MULTI, the next elevator is already waiting for you. Other times, like when you want to ride to the top of high buildings with only a few stops, MULTI will do it without other elevator systems.

To make traveling in high buildings more convenient, we are planning cabins for up to only eight passengers. This prevents swarms of passengers from rushing in and out of cabins.
Regarding energy efficiency, MULTI is simple to use like a paternoster elevator and the energy recovery from cars going down will immediately be used on the track where cars are going up. The energy management will contribute to a smart grid in buildings.
About five years. During that time, we improved and combined all necessary technologies within thyssenkrupp (linear drive, lightweight design, new materials, horizontal cabin movement, and functional safety concepts) with a system usable for the market. Today, we can show a fully functioning unit in our new test tower in Rottweil, Germany.
Absolutely! Three main components helped us get to where we are with MULTI:
  • thyssenkrupp Transrapid brought us expertise in linear drive technology.
  • thyssenkrupp TechCenter Carbon Composites contributes a lot to our lightweight cabin design, using new materials like CFRP.
  • thyssenkrupp Elevator has now 15+ years of experience with TWIN and the core competence of using functional safety elements in elevator systems.
One of the trickiest challenges was realizing an optimized linear drive system for a vertical transportation system—and making sure it would work very well.
We succeeded in developing a guiderail system that’s highly accurate and still adjusts for building movements and settlement. We also came up with a completely new component for turning cars from running vertically to horizontally. We call it the Exchanger.
It’s super safe! Not having ropes might be seem less safe but that’s not the case at all. The linear motors are safe because they need to be energized before they move. That means that without energy, the cabins can’t move. That’s why the cabins include batteries in case of energy breakdown.

Additionally, we use a multi-step braking system that doesn’t allow cabins to move freely. We fully comply with the very strict procedures of Functional Safety Management in cooperation with some of the most well-established certifying institutes.

An overarching safety control system proved the system to be absolutely safe. That is not only true for the “mechanical” part of the system but also for the data transmission and energy management systems on the car side.
MULTI is built so that a single failure won’t cause the whole system to stop. In addition, we could use another thyssenkrupp Elevator innovation called MAX for predictive maintenance. MAX uses cloud functions to replace parts before they are worn out. Maintenance work can be done during off-peak times by service cars. Even automatic service is possible!

If passengers need to get out of a car quickly, the transfer floors of MULTI can be spaces to evacuate. If the cabin is moving, it will not stop before reaching a transfer floor. In the very rare occasion of a stuck cabin, we can use the same techniques as traditional elevators do—we get people out via a side exit to an adjacent rescue car. MULTI also has service cars to tow away a cabin.
thyssenkrupp believes in being ahead of the game when it comes to innovation. That’s why we spend approximately €700 million/year on research and development. Our investment in MULTI was a double-digit million Euro amount.
MULTI will be more cost-effective than traditional elevators – and not only in the long run. The benefit for the investors in gaining floor space over the building height of 200+ meters is much higher than the initial investment cost of the elevator system. So, the system pays off very quickly!
With excitement! With this innovation, the elevator industry can keep up with the multiple requirements building developers demand: reduced elevator footprint, increased handling capacity, flexible transportation system, and no height limits. We saw that as MULTI became more and more concrete, our customers were enthusiastic about the exciting possibility to move sideways in buildings.

Another important point for the market is that we will offer MULTI to our customers via license models. The subject is too big for one single company to handle. We want to give competitors the possibility to share the new technology.
Our test tower in Rottweil is the perfect place to do all the international certification work. However, that will take a while. The requirements for people transport are high, which they must be. As far as we can say now, we will see the first installations in 2021.
The MULTI concept opens a lot of possibilities that allow for new developments in the future. thyssenkrupp Elevator already has several pending patents. Elevators will not only go up and down and from left to right but also virtually forwards and backwards. This would allow passengers to move even more flexibly in buildings. Stay tuned!

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