Lifting vision into reality

thyssenkrupp has unveiled the world’s first maglev elevator in a spectacular ceremony attracting global media attention. we.online was present as the MULTI made its first trip. We take you behind the scenes of one of the most exciting customer events of the year.

Realization of a game-changing idea: the world’s first rope-less and sideways-moving elevator

“Colleagues… is the system ready to go?” Anyone meeting Markus Jetter and his team for the first time soon realizes they are a close-knit unit. The words of the MULTI’s chief developer echo through the narrow room packed with media representatives and engineers. From behind a tall transparent panel the view opens onto an elevator shaft that looks as if it’s part of a space station. In the middle of a framework of vertical and horizontal rails carrying hundreds of flashing linear motors hangs the tk-blue elevator cabin, its doors open. Jetter’s team gives the ok and the countdown begins.

The MULTI moves…

“Three… two… one”. Elevator CEO Andreas Schierenbeck hits the tk-blue buzzer. The doors of the cabin close. The cabin glides to the left and almost silently switches shaft, the only sound a faint futuristic whir. “It’s going sideways…elevators don’t do that,” whispers guest host Ben Hammersley to Jetter. “From the 22nd June 2017 on … they do,” he replies.

The cabin pauses for a moment before suddenly shooting upwards and disappearing out of sight. Applause breaks out. The vision of the MULTI, the world’s first rope-less and sideways moving elevator, has become a reality. From the launch tent at the foot of the test tower comes the sound of enthusiastic cheering.

“Three… two… one…”: Markus Jetter and Elevator CEO Andreas Schierenbeck activate the MULTI

Product launch in the thyssenkrupp test tower

This is valuable applause. Watching the spectacle on a huge screen inside the tent are customers and media representatives from all over the world. This is the climax of a product launch entitled “MULTI - A New Era of Mobility in Buildings”. It’s about the realization of a game-changing idea: an elevator that does without cables, is driven by magnets, can carry any number of cabs and can even go sideways. Roughly 200 guests have come to the southern German town of Rottweil. White buses have unloaded them at the foot of the 246-meter thyssenkrupp test tower. Journalists, architects, real estate managers. “This is like the who’s who of high-rise developers,” says one of the invited customers. thyssenkrupp Elevator is putting on an impressive show for them, complete with the MULTI’s own song. (Watch the entire event here)

A new era of mobility in buildings

“MULTI is the key to a revolution in the elevator industry,” explains Andreas Schierenbeck on stage in the tent. The rope and pulley elevator has dominated the industry for 160 years. “So it was time for something new,” says Schierenbeck. His audience listens attentively. The new technology requires fewer and smaller shafts than conventional systems and can therefore increase usable space in buildings by up to 25 percent. The space gained can be rented out to create additional revenues. This is a clear advantage over traction elevator systems, which take up a large amount of space for shafts and technical equipment.

MULTI also offers more uniform energy consumption and much shorter waiting times. Not least it removes many current constraints on building design, clearing the way for a completely new kind of architecture.

A maglev elevator that moves sideways – it’s certainly an intriguing story, but will it convince real estate managers?

Customers arriving in Rottweil marvel at the thyssenkrupp test tower

What a MULTI cabin could look like

Coen van Oost, CEO of OVG Real Estate: thyssenkrupp has its first MULTI customer!

Andreas Schierenbeck speaking to over 200 guests: “MULTI is the key to a revolution in the elevator industry”

View inside the MULTI shaft: like part of a space station

MULTI in action: the only sound is a faint, futuristic whir

The 246-meter test tower for elevator innovations: one of the Group’s most exciting research facilities

The MULTI will debut in Berlin

An hour before the show begins, Coen van Oost stands captivated in the tower’s customer lobby. He inspects the dark elevator cabin by the blue light of its round display panel. “This is fascinating,” he exclaims. The tall Dutchman is CEO of OVG Real Estate, a property development firm that has made a name for itself with sustainable building designs.

Van Oost quickly shoots a video with his smartphone, which he then puts back in the breast pocket of his tailored blue suit. On his way to the presentation tent he laughs: “I thought, because it’s a German company I’d wear a suit and smart shoes. But now I see everybody from tk walking around in these blue sneakers!”

An hour later, van Oost steps onto the stage together with Schierenbeck. He talks first about his sustainable buildings and praises the maglev elevator as a masterpiece of technology. Then he stuns everyone by announcing that the first MULTI will be installed in a new building being planned by OVG Real Estate in Berlin. The East Side Tower in Berlin will be around 140 meters tall and will be completed by 2020. thyssenkrupp has its first MULTI customer!

MULTI is a symbol, for everyone at thyssenkrupp

The fact that thyssenkrupp has actually made it is a symbol – firstly for everyone at thyssenkrupp Elevator, as Andreas Schierenbeck pointed out in a post on we.connect on the day of the opening. (Read the post here)

Secondly it’s a symbol for the entire thyssenkrupp Group, a demonstration of its capabilities in urban mobility. The MULTI illustrates the advantages of Groupwide collaboration. It uses linear motor technology from thyssenkrupp Transrapid; the thyssenkrupp TechCenter Carbon Composites played a big part in the cabin’s lightweight construction; and not least it draws on thyssenkrupp Elevator’s expertise in elevator design, testing and operation.

Engineering. Tomorrow. Together.

And Markus Jetter and his team? The day is drawing to a close. The white presentation tent has emptied. Customers and press have long since gone. Jetter and his team stand around the waist-high post with the buzzer on top. They’ve all signed their names with black markers. Now it’s time to celebrate their success with a beer. The tension of the last few weeks melts away. For months, they’ve been working towards June 22 as the date of the global launch. And everything has gone exactly to plan!

“You are the greatest team! Thank you, you’ve done a tremendous job. But above all I’m glad you’ve all come through it safely,” says Jetter. Tonight is a time to celebrate; it’s been a big day. Tomorrow marks the start of the next phase for the MULTI, which will culminate at the end of the decade in its installation as a finished product in Coen van Oost’s tower in Berlin. But that’s a long way off tonight.

Read about the team behind the MULTI in the coming Elevator edition of we.print

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