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Otis modernizes the SAFICO Building

By 15 agosto, 2018Congress
Debut del GeN2 en Argentina

Nora Kamiñetzky

About to turn 85 next September, with a tribute in the Legislature of the city of Buenos Aires, the SAFICO Building, a gem of the crown of Buenos Aires architectural rationalism, updates its entire elevator system. Its owner, the SAFICO society, has chosen for this the Otis Gen2 ™ Mod system and thus the SAFICO tower becomes the first modernized argentine building to set this state-of-the-art technology at the global level.


SAFICO building, an architectural rationalism expression

Along the 30’s, in Buenos Aires, a large number of buildings with a novel architecture were raised. Tall, white, concrete buildings, stripped-down and curious shapes that remind us of boat decks, factory fronts, hospitals and even airplanes. It was modern or rational architecture whose influence was felt in Europe after the war. Strict functionalism, machinist aesthetics, minimalism or urban planning are some of the commandments of that modernity. Rationalism in Argentina was expressed in a mixed form with influences of art decò and other styles coming from innumerable foreign professionals, the use of materials and technical-constructive systems imported, the employment of immigrant labor and the adoption of European models and iconographies of almost instant transmission and assimilation. Among the notable exponents of this style we can point out the house of Victoria Ocampo, in Palermo Chico, buildings such as the Automóvil Club Argentino (argentine car club), the Argerich and Fernández hospitals, the Gran Rex and Normandie cinema and many others that can be seen touring the city, and also high skyscrapers such as the Kavanagh, the Comega and the SAFICO Building.

In the 1930s, Sociedad Anónima Financiera y Comercial Company (SAFICO), owner of the land, decided to build a rental building that could be adapted to different uses: hotel, commercial offices and homes. For this, it organized a private contest to select the project that would ensure the highest profitability in a very irregular terrain. The GEOPE company won and the design was awarded to the Swiss engineer Walter Moll. The work was designed when Corrientes Street was still narrow, but the regulations that already envisaged the widening of the future avenue, which would measure 26 meters wide, were taken into account. It has a front of 30 meters on Corrientes and stands up to 90 meters high.


SAFICO’s reinforced concrete structure was made in record time. Having completed the first foundation on October 31, 1932, the skeleton was finished on May 25, 1933, a total of 160 working days for such a task. When the concrete skeleton reached a certain height, the execution of the masonry began on February 6, 1933. The finished building was delivered to the owner company on September 8 of that year, in accordance with the term established in the contract. Its construction therefore took only 10 months!


At that time it was consecrated as one of the most important modernist skyscrapers in Buenos Aires and the highest in Argentina until the construction of the Kavanagh (120 meters). The tower has three basements (for parking and maintenance area), ground floor, 10 high floors and a tower of 15, which forms, through staggered retreats, a pyramidal crown in the style of art deco. There are 107 functional units that today are rented for offices, but they were homes in origin. The main block, which then had to be removed from the municipal line, was raised to the highest height permitted by the legislation: a ground floor, covered with black granite in the manner of a large plinth and ten floors, the last three with a stepped retreat in the central part. Behind, the large tower, which leaves large ventilation patios on its sides and repeats the scheme of staggering in height to reach 90 meters (26 floors).


The last three floors formed a single housing unit. It was the first triplex in the country. In it lived, among other personalities, Pablo Neruda and his wife when he was Vice Consul of Chile in Argentina. The main access to the building is located in the center of the the ground floor and on its sides there are two large shops. Until a few years ago, most of the units were occupied by offices of foreign news agencies and the famed Buenos Aires Herald newspaper was based there.

Modernization of the Lifts with the GEN2 Mod technology

After a long journey and many years the building, that was originally equipped with OTIS lifts, returns to the brand that gave it more confidence. According to its administrators “it took time to find a suitable company that could carry out this modernization due to the fact that the building was constructed on a concrete basis which didn’t allowed any modifications on the irregular shape of the elevator shafts. Otis is going to modify the cabins to achieve capacity for one more passenger, something that the other companies did not offer us, since they use standardized cabins and did not conform to the needs of this building. It took a year and a half to find the solution and we achieved it with Otis. Otis with its traction belt and its whole technology was the one that convinced us. With Gen 2 there will be reduction of
vibrations, of power consumption, increased comfort, better cabins and doors. It will be the first building in the country, which will have a GEN2 ™ Mod installed. This technology is used in the Pentagon and in all American embassies in the world. It is a challenge for us, because the elevator is the heart of the building. We had to bet on something good and plan for the future”.

The technological update that Otis will carry out:

• Replacement of the current control panels with Otis technologically updated type GCS 222 MMR and Alternating Current motor controls by Voltage Variation and Regenerative Frequency Variation.
• Replacement of the current tractors with reducer (geared) with alternating current motor, by other GeN2 type without alternating current reducer, last generation manufactured with permanent magnets.
• New flat belts for the traction and its terminals, necessary when replacing the tractor units.
• Machine room connections.
• Maneuver cords, connection center in the cabin and the necessary cabin connections.
• Shaft connections necessary for the modernization that is intended to be carried out.
• “Otis elevator” Compass Plus ® “Pre-assignment of elevator system for the four main elevators and the installation of the EMS (Elevator Management System ™) for the electronic management of the five elevators. With EMS, elevator installations can be monitored, controlled and analyzed in a centralized manner. Thanks to its modular construction, a PC-based system (Personal Computer) can be adapted to support a wide range of uses. All the operating parameters related to the elevators connected to the system are regularly reported to the EMS software through the elevator control system, all electronic data being recorded.
• New floor keyboards with positional integrated in the forklift. In the main elevators alphanumeric keyboards, called “Key-pad”.
• New pendant in cabin with positional in the forklift. In the main elevators, a cockpit pushbutton with hidden push buttons will be installed. Only the “open / close doors and the alarm” pushbuttons will be visible, since you do not need to press the destination floor in the cabin with the “Compass Plus” system.
• In each of the cabs, a Side-Screen Mirror Glass Screen, 32 “led, will be placed on a side panel or cloth, as a positional indicator, multimedia screen and informative medium, with a very high definition. With this screen the user will have a series of advantages and services such as being able to see the direction of the march, the floor, information about the elevator, all kinds of news, publicity and general information. Due to its great technological plasticity, this system allows the projection of videos and the continuous updating of contents.
• New control systems for the cabin situation in the shaft and stop precision in the different plants.
• New cabins and cabin doors with operators controlled electronically by voltage variation and frequency variation.
• Floor doors will be checked and adjusted and mobile components that are in misuse will be replaced.
• Adjustments and adjustments that are necessary once the proposed modernization of the new components has been carried out, as well as those that are maintained.’

Improvements and scope of the work to be done


With the proposed solution, the objectives set in the Project are met with respect to:

Service improvement:

• Increasing the transport capacity, as a consequence of the new control panel with permanent magnet motor speed control by Voltage Variation and Regenerative Frequency Variation, the new electronic weighing device that accurately measures the number of people in the cabin and, in this way, if it is completed, it does not answer floor calls in the direction it is traveling, in addition to joining the operation of the four elevators in a single “Selective Quadruplex Collective” maneuver due to the installation of the “Compass Plus®” system, which selects the optimal elevator according to the destination floor.
• Improving the comfort of travel, by the softness in the starts, accelerations and stops that can be adjusted at will with the new speed controls by Voltage Variation and Frequency Variation.
The adjustment parameters are:
Acceleration: adjustable between 0.6 and 1 m / s2.
Shaking in the cabin: adjustable between 1 and 2 m / s3.
• Improved security in boarding and disembarking, due to the high stop precision: 3 mm. typical and 5 mm. Guaranteed
• Reduction of electrical consumption due to the new machine and its high efficiency, reduction in transport times, by installing speed control of the new permanent magnet motor with the technology of “Voltage Variation and Regenerative Frequency Variation” that greatly reduces measure the consumption and transport times between the different plants and adding, in addition, the advance opening of the floor and cabin doors in the different floors.
• Energy saving, due to the new speed control of the permanent magnet motor of the new machine and the door operator and the lower number of trips made by the lift, due to the optimized management of the new microprocessor-based maneuver, in addition to what supposes of saving of energy, when using the control VVVF regenerative that returns power to the general network of the Building in favorable trips (lowering the complete cabins or greater of half load and raising the empty cabins or with less than half load).
• The modernization proposed in this Project is based on compliance with all updated Lift Regulations of all those components that are replaced, although the lift as a whole must comply with the Regulation in force in the year of its start-up.


The GEN2 ™ Mod system by Otis


The GeN2 ™ Mod system patented by OTIS combines the latest technologies with the most innovative materials. With this system the traditional steel traction cables are replaced by flat belts, using a gearless machine with permanent magnet technology and a control box with variable frequency closed loop digital control system, achieving a more reliable operation, durable, safe, silent, comfortable and with maximum energy efficiency.


Machine gearless: compact and efficient


Due to the incorporation of the flat ribbons, the machine is much more compact, small and light than the conventional ones. Its permanent magnet motor and radial construction makes it 50% more efficient than conventional gear machines and 15% more efficient than other machines with permanent magnet motor axial construction. The reliability is increased by the use of disk brakes that have no wear since they only act when the elevator is already standing in plant, so they do not need maintenance.


Significant reduction of power consumption

The machine is governed by a closed loop voltage and frequency variable speed control, providing:
• lower energy consumption,
• lower installation power required,
• lower starting and nominal intensity, which translates into a saving in energy consumption of up to 50% due to the motor control system due to voltage variation and regenerative frequency variation.



The BELT is composed of 12 high strength braided steel cables. Each cable is in turn made up of 7 cables with 7 wires each. The central cables are self-lubricated and the assembly is covered by a layer of polyurethane of only 3 cm. wide by 0.3 cm thick.
The reinforcement of braided steel wires gives the flat ribbons great dynamic stability and allows a constant tension to be maintained over their entire length.
The polyurethane coating has an excellent resistance to abrasion and a long life, combined with an elasticity and resistance to grease, oil and solvents.
The tapes have been subjected to breakage and flexibility tests carried out under the TÜV control, an independent international certifying body.

Compared to traditional steel traction cables, the tapes have a larger contact surface, allowing to reduce their wear and that of the pulley.
Its lifespan is also increased by the contact of the smooth surface with the pulley without grooves. The life span of flat ribbons is 2 or 3 times that of traditional cables. The ribbons are slotted at irregular distances to further improve adherence and ensure no noise.


PULSE ™ system


The PULSE ™ system, patented by OTIS, permanently monitors the braiding status of the tapes for optimum security. This represents an important advance comparatively to traditional inspections. The PULSE ™ system reinforces the safety, maintenance and reliability regulations of its elevators.


Control panels GCS 222 MMR


The GCS 222 MMR control panels are based on a new concept developed for the elevator government, called “MODULAR CONTROL SYSTEM”, whereby the main functions of the operational control of an elevator are divided into several subsystem modules.
The MODULAR CONTROL SYSTEM “(MCS) has been developed with the most advanced technology available today, the MICROPROCESSOR.
With the GCS controls, the concept of “group control” has been replaced by the RING architecture.
The architecture in RING is based on the fact that each maneuver table has the function of group box. This means that if the control of a team fails, those that are left distribute the traffic as if it did not exist.


Otis Compassplus®

Call allocation system that programs the elevator where each passenger will travel according to the destination they choose. Avoid crowds, runs and saves time.


Advantages of Otis GEN2 ™ Mod system

Soft and comfortable journey, stop precision and time saving, saving and regeneration of energy that returns to the network for other uses, environmental protection, space saving, adaptability to future system changes.