The VG AiO™ Speed Watcher – highly anticipated launch of a new safety product

Atwell International launched its new product, the AiO speed watcher at a customer day at the specialist training centre Eastwood Park, Gloucestershire, on 25 April.
There were around 55 attendees from all sectors of the lift industry; from manufacturers, designers and consultants to repair, controller and insurance companies. Many of the attendees had travelled far to be able to participate, not only from throughout the UK, but also from other countries such as Germany and Spain.
While waiting for the main event to begin, there were refreshments and a chance to speak with others in the informal setting at the centre’s café. Expectations were high among the attendees, and the room was buzzing with anticipation ahead of what was expected to be the launch of something new and different. One consultant your author (MO) spoke to was looking forward to hearing about this new type of safety device, its capabilities, how it would interface with other equipment and fit into current standards.

Many of the attendees were curious to see what Atwell International had invented and were looking forward to the presentation. Overall, it was felt that the launch of something new would benefit the whole industry.

The AiO speed watcher had been in development for more than 20 years; it had been a case of continuous development and, with changes in technology and the right market conditions, the time had come to launch it. The product has been jointly developed between Atwell International and Coomber Innovation Ltd, where the former contributed with the mechanical side and the latter the electronics side of the product.

The only detail of the product that had been shared before the event was its name, and unless you had been directly involved in the development or the testing, no other details were revealed before the launch day.
Russell Walker, the Managing Director of Atwell International, welcomed everyone and we were given a first introduction to the AiO speed watcher through a 15-minute video.

The product is described by Atwell International as a revolution in overspeed control and uncontrolled movement detection for the lift industry. Atwell International worked under the assumption that no safety gear fitted in any lift works at the speed it was designed for, and more importantly, certified to. During tests, Atwell International compared three different set ups on a lift in free fall; overspeed governor, Atwell international sensor pack, and the new AiO speed watcher. Among these three, the new speed watcher had by far the quickest reaction time, and hence the fastest activation of the safety gear. A reduced activation speed means the less distance a lift will fall, and the safety gear will operate within its designed activation speed.

The AiO speed watcher is designed to be a simple plug-in solution with minimal connections to the existing lift controller. With the same footprint as the VG8 safety gear, it can be fitted together or independently. The AiO speed watcher can go on top of, or at the bottom of the car. It is fully CE certified and complies with the current regulations on overspeed, speed monitoring, speed limiting, free fall, and uncontrolled movement of the car.
Using the AiO speed watcher means the overspeed governor, tension weight, governor rope and linkage kits become superfluous to requirements.
In short, the AiO speed watcher is said to offer improved activation times and ease of installation, significant reduction in time on site and hence providing a new level of safety for both engineers and passengers alike.
After the video, the event was then dedicated to the product demonstrations in the lift lab and the chance to ask questions. Direct feedback was invited, to help Atwell International with the future direction of the product.

The AiO speed watcher was demonstrated in use on a lift and on a rig. We were also given the chance to handle the product and look at it closely, something that was keenly appreciated by the attendees.

In fact, during the demonstration, it was almost stopping “too fast” for us to observe. It was clear that the AiO speed watcher stopped the lift faster than the overspeed governor. Despite the fast reaction and deployment of the brake, the force is within 0.7G, so not a hard stop.
On the data sent from the AiO speed watcher, we were shown the sliding distance, direction and time of the deployment. One attendee immediately compared this with recently having had to measure manually how far a car had slid before the overspeed governor kicked in.

The AiO speed watcher uses quadrature encoder technology to monitor movement of the lift and safely trip the safety gear. The AIO speed watcher has built-in Wi-Fi so you can operate it even in areas with restricted access, without entering the lift shaft
Performance checking and data analysis are done through a web browser on any mobile, iPad or a computer. The AiO speed watchers’ bespoke software allows different levels of access, and the unit is tampering proof. The software interface also allows an engineer to safely reset the safety gear without having to enter the lift shaft.
Faye Smallman, one of three product demonstrators on the day and also Client Account Manager, mentioned that the AiO speed watcher is a game changer. There is no longer any need for an overspeed governor and tension weight making it quicker to install. It only requires a 12V supply and installation is a matter of hours. There is also less maintenance being that there are no ropes required and the AiO speed watcher has self-checking capability.

One attendee with long experience of the lift industry, reflected on how this felt like a potential new phase in safety technology, having previously experienced the transition to overspeed governors. It was also mentioned that this fits in nicely with modernisation work and reduces the time required for building work.
The first version of the AiO speed watcher is developed for working together with the VG8 safety gear. It will also be made available for other products in the VG safety series within the next 6 months.

The AIO Speed Watcher is built entirely in the UK with the latest technology and is compatible with a majority of lifts used today in the UK and throughout the world.
At the time of the launch, lead time for the units was 12 weeks, but once in stock, this is expected to be down to less than one working week for standard applications.
The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive and the event appeared to have lived up to, even exceeded, expectations. It was a good opportunity for Atwell International’s customers to provide direct feedback and gave the company ample time to interact with customers and suppliers on the day. The launch event was rounded off with a buffet lunch.
Russell Walker said of the event: “We achieved everything we wanted to do. We wanted to launch a new product and really bring it to life. This is a new generation of lift safety.”

(From AiO promotional material)
VG AiO speed watcher – Enhancing Safety, Elevating Performance.
Key features include:
CE certified to EN81:20/50 by BSI
Replaces the traditional system of overspeed governor, tension weight and rope.
Eliminates the need for connection kits and bars when used with VG safety gears.
Suitable for use on all guide rails, whether oiled or dry, from 9mm to 19mm as standard.
Offers full UCM and overspeed protection.
Lift running speed range of 0.05 to 7.5m/s.
The basis of the AiO – faster reaction times = safer lift
Atwell International
A UK company, specialising in the supply of VG Safety Products™ and associated lift components. Through product development and strong supplier relationships the company has progressed to offer the extensive range of lift products available today, from its purpose-built facilities in Worcester.

Coomber Innovation Ltd
A British company at the forefront of designing and manufacturing niche control & safety solutions for a multitude of markets from their factory in Worcester. The company has over 110 years of experience in both designing and building their own high-quality products as well as helping partners with their varied manufacturing needs.

Eastwood Park Training Centre
A leading training provider to the engineering, estates and facilities management sectors for over 50 years, Eastwood Park offers an extensive portfolio of healthcare and commercial courses at a state-of-the-art training centre in Gloucestershire