Project Description

Four lifts have been servicing Eastbourne’s tallest residential building since 1965. The 19 floors and 73 flats have relied on these original lifts for some 55 years.

South Cliff Tower, designed by local architects Benz & Williams, was built following the grant of planning consent in 1962. South Cliff Tower is unique and looking at the building it is easy to see why. The Tower, widely rumoured to have once been the home of Roger Moore, features accidentally in the 1969 film Battle of Britain, some 30 years ahead of its time!

The four original Otis traction lifts were installed when the building was first built. Over recent years, with technology advancements, there was an opportunity to improve the lift’s reliability.

The obsolescence of components and outdated technology that was maintenance intensive and lacked modern energy efficiency features were additional factors to consider.

The building’s management committee brought in independent engineering consultancy, LECS UK, to advise on the best course of action.

Dave Cooper, MD, LECS UK said: “The aspect to this, as with many projects of this nature, is to provide the most cost effective, safe and reliable solution for the long term use of the building – a fit for purpose solution that will provide longevity and safety for owners and users. In addition we had to achieve this in a fully occupied building.”

LECS UK carried out full condition surveys of existing lifts and considered all the options.

Dave Cooper, LECS UK said: “Considering all of the parameters and critical factors from our review, we advised that refurbishing the lifts was the best option.”

“The age of the lifts presented a number of problems with regard to ongoing maintenance. Longer-term the components would be difficult to come by and the engineering skills required for these aged lifts were also growing scarce.”

“New lifts would also improve energy efficiency, remove faults and breakdowns, increase traffic flow and speed of service, and be more aesthetically pleasing.”

LECS UK developed the full specifications required, and from that constructed a robust tender document. It also managed the entire tender process finally selecting Otis to undertake the project.

Paul Kennedy, UK modernisation director at Otis said: “We were delighted to carry out the modernisation of the lifts at this prestigious south coast residence. Having supplied the original lift installations in 1960’s, it was very important to us to keep this property in the Otis portfolio and supply the residents with many more years of reliable service with our latest technology and products.”

The project started in August 2018, with the initial ‘enabling works’. In order to maintain the operation of the building, while also supporting cash flow, the four lifts were refurbished consecutively over a three-year period.

The old controllers of these vintage lifts were analogue controlled with moving parts such as contactors and relays as well as outdated rotary selectors. The new controllers are digital and software based with passive components.

All the critical parts of the lifts were updated in order for it to:

  • Handle new technology,
  • Have better performance,
  • Improve safety,
  • Deliver improved handling capabilities.

The overall lift aesthetics were also given an up-to-date appeal. The energy-efficient regenerative drives produce energy when the system is overhauling and returns it to the grid.

The new system replaces conventional steel ropes with coated steel belts. The flat-belt technology virtually eliminates vibration, providing passengers and tenants a remarkably smooth, quiet ride and improved overall comfort. The system uses gearless permanent magnet synchronous motors with a smaller diameter drive sheave required by conventional traction drives. This allows for a machine that is 70 percent smaller and up to 50 percent more efficient than conventional geared machines.

The new energy efficient system saves in the region of 30 percent of the energy drawn by the original systems.

The project was completed in May 2020.