Friday, March 9, 2012

Elevator Optimization Challenge

In my life I've lived, worked, and visited many buildings with elevators.  Some had a single elevator and a single digit number of floors.  Some had multiple public, private, or service related elevators, twenty or more floors.  Some count starting at Ground or 1 (First Floor), some have basements, sub basements, garages, or other floors outside the normal first floor up to the top floor.  I once lived in a dormitory that had a ground and zero floor, consider that for possible context.

Much has been written about elevator optimization, and I feel just as I would for many other problems that optimizing the elevator's function might not only depend on the context of the tenants and users of the building's elevator.  The context could even change as tenants moved in and out of the building not just through the day, but throughout the life time of the building.

So the thought occurred to me, what if a tester were approached to work for an elevator tuning company to help optimize the flow of traffic in the elevators.  What common questions would need to be asked to figure out the building's context?  So here's the challenge.  Below I am presenting four different building possibilities. I'm less concerned about the optimization of each building in the future but how to currently maximize its efficiency.   So here are the Buildings:

Building 1:
Office Building A:
Floors: 5 Numbered 1 - 5
Entry/Exit: Floor 1
Elevators: 2: 1 Public
Floor 1: 2, Law Office, CPA's office
Floor 2: File Storage, Break Room, Copy Center
Floor 3: Conference Room, Reception area, Storage
Floor: 4: Software Company: Management, Developer Offices
Floor: 5: Training Room, Support Desk Cubes

Building 2:
Apartment Complex
Floors: 12 Numbered B, G, 0-9
Entry/Exit: Floors B and G
Elevators: 2 Public Single controller
Floor B: Small Commerce, Post Office, Book Store, Weight Room
Floor G: Managers Office, Cafe, Storage
Floors 0-9: Tenants about 25 apartments per floor (for the purpose of the exercise assume an assortment of, 2, 3, Bedroom furnishings, with kitchen, living room, and a single bathroom (not shared)

Building 3:
Floors: 15 Numbered, B, G1, G2, 1-13
Entry/Exit: B, G1, G2, 1
Elevators: 8 4 Public 4 Service/Maintenance   (2 separate banks on separate controllers)
B: Basement/Storage, limited diagnostic laboratories
G1: Garage First Floor entrance/exit, Walk in Clinic
G2: Garage Second Floor, Reception area, and Shop, Cafeteria.
Floors 1-13 Various layouts for residents, surgery, etc Exact arrangement doesn't matter
Visiting Hours are typically from 8-11 AM, and from 3-830 PM for the hospital

Building 4
Small Office Building
Floors: 5 Numbered 1-5
Entry/Exit: 1, 2, 3
Elevators: 2, separate banks and controllers
Floors 1 and 2 are parking garages, where Floor 1 is the least used of the two.
Floors 3-5 are office spaces, most of the traffic is to floors 4 and 5 though

So given these buildings, what questions would you first need to answer before you could begin to recommend suggestions for optimization?  I know I have a few in mind myself, but I'll leave this post be for now, and then maybe add a continuation post later on.  What questions would you ask to accomplish the optimization?

Note: This is probably the first time I've proposed an idea for a Test Challenge, so if its formulation or presentation seem off, or missing something, please feel free to let me know.  You can drop me an email if you'd rather not post in the comments.


  1. Hi tim, nice challenge!

    Any deadline for it? Imight get to look at it over the weekend, otherwise it'll be early next week

    1. At least a week, maybe two before I put out a follow up I think. Potentially longer, so there's time.

    2. Hi Tim, many apologies but I haven't had time to tackle this challenge & I'm gonna be swamped in April.

      1 question I do have though is what options are there for optimising flow as an elevator company? I mean, aren't the elevators constrained by the buildings theyre in & the folks pushing the button to request the elevators?

      What am I missing please?

      I'll confess my elevator knowledge isn't brilliant!

    3. Duncan those are fair and honest questions. I will actually add a bit of an overview, because you're on the right track. Unfortunately my reply was more than could fit into the comments here, so I made a follow up blog post here: to cover it. I hope this part 2 helps answer your questions, but not entirely spoiling the challenge.