Since their invention in the 19th century as engines of the industrial revolution, lifts and escalators have become a staple of urban life. Thanks to them, humans have become able to fuse high density and quick mobility, defying gravity and long distances. They are now ubiquitous: it is estimated that there are more than 15 million lifts and escalators in operation worldwide and more than 820,000 new units installed every year.
European Standards for lifts and escalators: a Single Market Success story
Given their common presence in everyday life as well as the necessity for common technical requirements for the European lift industry, it is no wonder that lifts and escalators were among the first industrial goods to have a dedicated technical committee in European standardization. In 1962, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) established CEN/TC 10 on ‘Lifts, escalators and moving walks’ with the aim of agreeing on safety rules for the construction and installation of lifts, escalators, and passenger conveyors in the then European Community.
The work of European standardization in this field has been particularly relevant in making the Single Market a reality through the adoption of Harmonized Standards. CEN successfully collaborates with the European institutions by creating the standards that implement the requirements introduced by the 'Lifts Directive 2014/33/EU' and 'Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC'. The Lifts Directive, which was adopted in June 1995 and its latest version is applicable from 20 April 2016, harmonizes the rules governing the design, manufacture, and installation of lifts. Its aim is to permit the free circulation of lifts within the EU internal market, ensuring a high level of safety for lift users as well as maintenance and inspection technicians. Similarly, the Machinery Directive harmonizes the rules for escalators and other lifting appliances.
According to Esfandiar Gharibaan, the Chairman of CEN/TC 10, the success of this cooperation is evident: among the 43 standards published by CEN/TC 10, 29 are harmonized. But the greatest proof of success, explains Mr Gharibaan, who is also Vice-President at KONE, one of the global leaders in the lifts and escalators industry, is the degree to which it has helped the European industry and, consumers: harmonized standards such as EN 81-20 and EN 81-50 for lifts and EN 115-1 for escalators ensure that a satisfying degree of safety, accessibility and quality measures are achieved all around the Single Market.This way, we can all be assured that when using lifts and escalators, we will move around in our daily lives comfortably and securely.
European Standards at the heart of an international market
The standardization of lifts and escalators does not stop at the borders of the European Union. The lifts and escalators market is a truly global one, even compared to other industrial sectors: with more than 75% of all new yearly installations (63% in China alone), the Asia-Pacific currently dominates the global lifts and escalators market and is expected to grow even more between 2016-2023.
The European-based lift industry, with tightly integrated manufacturing and supply chains around the world, holds a major share of the global market.
In this situation, it is of the upmost strategic importance for European Standards to be open to the world: by having standards recognised also outside of the European market, companies adopting them do not have to fear being cut out of the booming Asian-Pacific markets due to incompatibility. It is positive, then, that most countries recognised the value of CEN/TC 10’s standards, especially EN 81-20/50 and EN 115-1, and decided to implement them in their regulatory system. For example, the image below shows the worldwide relevance of standards EN 81-20 and EN 81-50.
Two European Standards for lifts soon to become international Standards
The next step in this internationalisation process is to transform the two European Standards, EN 81-20 and EN 81-50, into ISO standards, which would make them officially adopted at the international level. With this objective, CEN/TC 10 is currently working in close contact with the associated technical committee in the International Organization for Standardization, ISO/TC 178, following a well-defined roadmap. The first phase of the roadmap consists of the adoption of EN 81-20/50 as identical ISO standards under the name of ISO 8100-1/2, which are currently under development. For the second phase, ISO 8100-1/2 will become EN ISO 8100-1/2 and EN 81-20/50 will be withdrawn. The overall aim is to have identical EN ISO standards: therefore, in the future, CEN and ISO will work in parallel on the revision of those standards.
Lifts and elevators, then, are not only a symbol of modernity, powering economic and urban development, they testify to the role of European standardization in creating an efficient Single Market and fostering the existence of common international rules, applicable in all countries.
- Watch Esfandiar Gharibaan speak about the importance of harmonized standards for lifts and escalators (part 1 & part 2).
Esfandiar Gharibaan will speak at the upcoming World Standards’ Day conference taking place on 12 October in Brussels. Mr Gharibaan will set the scene at the first session, dedicated to sharing success stories of how standards have helped different industries and supported growth and competitiveness within the Single Market. You can find the full programme here.
This article is part of our campaign on the 25th Anniversary of the EU Single Market. Follow us throughout the year with the hashtag #SingleMarket. Let us know your examples of how European Standards contributed to the prosperity of the EU economy or how they impact your life for the better. Tell us your stories through the hashtag #TellEUstandards.