Paternoster lift refurbishment

University of Essex

Paternoster lifts are unique in that they run continuously, formed out of a chain of open compartments that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building. There are only around three paternoster lifts in operation in the UK, with this lift at the University of Essex being one of the few remaining. This particular lift was installed in the 1960s.

Requirement

The key issue with this paternoster lift was old age - the last modernisation of the lift was undertaken in the 1990s. Due to the lift being in continuous operation over almost 30 years, it had seen a lot of wear and tear, particularly on the gearing. A health and safety assessment of the lift found it to be worn beyond serviceability. It was decided that in the interests of safety, it would be removed from service. This presented the facilities team at Essex University with two options: to either retain the lift and modernise it, or to put another solution in place. ILECS were brought in to provide expert input and to carry out a feasibility study and traffic analysis, and subsequently to modernise the lift following the findings of the feasibility study.

Challenges

ILECS were commissioned by Essex University to conduct a feasibility study to assess the potential of replacing the paternoster entirely. Part of that study was a traffic simulation to audit the usage of the lift in its current context.We determined that, in order to put something in place that would have the same passenger carrying capabilities as the current installation, they would need at least three large lifts in the building. This was untenable due to a lack of available space - the building would have required an addition to the outside of the building to incorporate three new lift wells and three externally positioned lifts. The cost, logistics, and interruption to the building involved meant that this was not an option. In addition, the paternoster formed a part of the history of the building, and represented a rare form of heritage lift that meant modernising the paternoster was the optimal solution.

The project also presented a challenge because it fell in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK, so there were periods of time when operations were challenging, with access to site being restricted. Our team ensured that they complied with the latest Government health and safety guidance while being as hands-on with the project as possible to ensure that it progressed as close to the original timescales as possible.

Solution

This was a very specialist project. Having been phased out as a form of passenger transport during the 70s, there is an ever decreasing number of operational paternosters in the country, and hence a very small pool of knowledge available. The incumbent lift engineers had serviced the paternoster for many years and had gained a considerable level of experience with the equipment during that time. For this reason, they were invited to tender for the modernisation works as the main contractors.

ILECS worked with the client and design team to develop an effective modernisation specification, which included utilising modern technology and design, to improve standards of safety and functionality.

As part of our research, we also visited the only other paternoster lift installed in a UK university in Sheffield, which had also been previously refurbished, to understand how they had managed the challenges associated with modernising a piece of equipment that was, in essence, obsolete.

With so many of the parts and components of the paternoster being of a unique design, additional specialist engineers and suppliers also were called upon throughout the project. All of the large gearing had to be manufactured bespoke, and a specialist gearing manufacturer was brought in to copy the original components and fabricate replacements. The gearing manufacturer occupied a niche where their core components were designed for steam traction engines, which demonstrates just how unusual this project was.

Because of their previous experience, we invited the same controller manufacturer that had been involved in the Sheffield University modernisation some years before, to develop a controller that would incorporate the new signalisation and safety components being introduced as part of the modernised design.

Benefit

We ensured that the client could make an informed decision about the options available with the paternoster lift by undertaking the feasibility study at the beginning of the project to determine whether or not an alternative solution would be more cost-effective.

Once a decision had been made to proceed with the modernisation, we ensured that the works resulted in improved standards of health and safety as well as performance. Care was taken to ensure that there was also an emphasis on sustainability, with the modernised design allowing for ease of maintenance and future parts replacement.

David Pickering, the lead consultant on this project, said:

There are only a few paternosters left in the country, and this made any modernisation project a little more challenging, but also a little more special. It was wonderful to be able to preserve this unique piece of engineering heritage and ensure its continued safe and reliable operation into the future.

Learn more about how we can help with specialist lift maintenance and lift refurbishment projects, or give us a call on 01206 399555 to discuss our full range of services, and we’ll be happy to assist.

Need help with a similar project?
If you’d like to save money on your lift portfolio, get in touch with us to find out how we can help you.
Get in touch

Recent Projects

Don't just take our word for it
HERE’S WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
  • "We have had the great pleasure of working with ILECS on 2 sets of lifts that we manage on behalf of our residential clients. The service we receive from Chris Blowers and Dave Marks is absolutely outstanding; I never have to chase for responses and everything is always done very efficiently. They keep on top of all of defects, call outs and have saved our clients a fortune through their advice and negotiations on pricing for replacement parts! We will certainly be looking to expand ILECS onto the rest of our portfolio in the coming year!"
    Claire Bates – Senior Estate Manager, Hillcrest Estate Management
  • "The team at ILECS continue to impress with their professional and diligent approach. From survey and design through to project management and handover, their knowledge and experience has saved the University time and money on both new and refurbished lift projects across the estate and we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them. We look forward to working with ILECS for many years to come.”
    Stuart Bonney - Senior Projects Officer, Brunel University
  • "Since ILECS have taken over the management of the lift contractor Rubax, the service has improved considerably. Lift outages have improved and the communication both to the contractor and the management team is excellent. The result of the improved performance is that the freeholder is keen to utilise ILECS on another property not currently managed by Rendall and Rittner."
    Gary Cox - Senior Property Manager, Rendall & Rittner
  • “Our experience with ILECS has been very positive so far, both Abi Hanger and Sophie Scott have been very helpful in dealing with our queries promptly, and chasing up outstanding issues.”
    Emma Sant - Estates Coordinator, Premier Estates
  • “The team at ILECS are very helpful and always come back to our queries within minutes. Having you on board makes our jobs a lot easier!”
    Ashlea Reynolds - Property Manager, Orchard Block Management Services Ltd
  • "Having a company like ILECS on hand, who are specialists in their field and impartial, has not only allowed us to pass over this area of our role, but has given us more clarity on what essentially is required towards health and safety and management of lifts. It's reassuring to know that there is a company that does not put profit over service."
    Russell Kellett - Property Manager, Orchard Block Management Services
  • “ILECS have worked alongside our own Design Team for a number of years where they have been instrumental in ensuring that the design and construction of lifts across our Estate are best suited to our particular needs. Also, working alongside our Operational Contracts Manager, they continue to support the setting up and running of Service Level Agreements that ensure that all of the 90 lifts across the Estate operate in a safe, reliable and cost effective way. I would have no hesitation in recommending ILECS to other similar organisations.”
    University of Southampton, Estates and Facilities Head of Engineering Services, Mark Turner BSc MSc CEng MCIBSE
  • “ILECS have provided lift consultancy services to Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust for some time and we have always been very satisfied with their service delivery, expertise and guidance with regards to the management of lifts within our buildings.
    We have always found ILECS to be professional, responsive, honest and helpful in the delivery of their services which were found to be provided at a reasonable cost. We are happy to recommend ILECS.”
    Phil Robson - Head of Capital Projects, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust
Read Our Case Studies
Have a question? Call our team 01206 399555
Our office hours are 8.30am – 5pm, Monday – Friday
Access our Information offline
Download Our Brochures
If you would like more information on our lift and escalator consultancy 
services or want to find out how OneVision can help you. 
ILECS Brochure Download
ILECS BROCHURE
OneVision Logo
ONEVISION BROCHURE
PROVIDING TRULY INDEPENDENT ADVICE

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram