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Keeping Your Elevators and Escalators in Top Gear

Construction Review Online posted a great article regarding the preventative maintenance of elevators and escalators. The article goes into great detail about the responsibilities of building owners in terms of their vertical transportation equipment, the safety code for elevators and escalators and the importance of having an accurate and up-to-date Maintenance Control Plan (MCP) for each piece of equipment.

Keeping your elevators and escalators in top gear

 

 

Excessive Elevator Maintenance Charges

An elevator maintenance contract is a vital piece to the upkeep of all vertical transportation/elevator equipment. The terms and conditions of a maintenance contract can quite literally make or break the life of the equipment. Elevator maintenance contracts are written by the elevator service provider with terms and conditions in their own favor. Most building owners and property managers have little-to-no technical and mechanical elevator knowledge and therefore cannot properly decipher what equipment and parts are covered in their elevator maintenance contract. This commonly results in excessive elevator maintenance charges. It is common to see terms written in such a way that they are intentionally confusing.  There is no oversight or accountability for the elevator service provider to ensure that their contractually obligated maintenance is even being performed. The elevator maintenance contracts contain stipulations of elevator components covered for repair and/or replacement and talk about elevator part obsolescence.  For example, an elevator stopped running unexpectedly and the elevator service provider was called back to assess the problem. They determine the reason for the shutdown was a part failure due to normal wear and tear and needs to be replaced. Instead of referencing the maintenance agreement, the elevator service provider automatically opts to charge the client for the full cost of labor and material for the drive replacement, despite the work already being covered in the elevator maintenance agreement. The client was going to pay in full and approve the work yet the work is covered in the contract. In this case, the client saved over $55,000.00. Unfortunately, it is extremely common to see unnecessary excessive elevator maintenance charges. 

Elevator Inspections vs. Elevator Testing vs. Elevator Audits

In the elevator and escalator industry, “inspection,”   “testing” and “audit” are terms commonly used interchangeably yet, in reality, they are quite different. An elevator inspection or escalator inspection is typically performed by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). The purpose of an inspection is to evaluate whether or not all elevator equipment and its related counterparts meet current State and Municipal elevator code to ensure safety of all equipment for use. Elevator testing or escalator testing is a component of an elevator inspection.  An elevator or escalator cannot pass inspection without the proper testing being completed. The type of test mandated by ASME A17.1 depends on whether the unit is hydraulic, traction, escalator, dumbwaiter or other vertical transportation conveyances regulated by the AHJ. Some examples of testing are Category 1 (annual) tests and Category 5 (every 5 years) for traction elevators. Hydraulic elevators require an Annual Pressure Test. Escalators also must be tested annually or when the AHJ requires. Testing is conducted by the Elevator Service Provider. Code mandates that testing documents and testing tags (which give the date and type of test) be present in the machine room. An inspector checks to see if the required testing is completed during an inspection.

elevator pit

A pit filled with oil and water is not up to code and would not pass inspection

An elevator audit assesses the safety, performance, and maintenance of the vertical transportation equipment. Unlike a test or inspection, an audit is not required by code. An audit is a service that is pursued by the building owner or property manager to get a snapshot of the condition of the elevator or escalator units and the service it is receiving.   Audits document how the building’s equipment is being serviced and maintained by thoroughly reviewing the building’s current elevator maintenance plan and existing service contracts while cross-referencing them with the elevator equipment’s current condition and performance. Performing an audit consistently results in performance and service improvements from the elevator service provider. Elevator audits usually uncover deferred maintenance and missed services needed to fulfill the equipment’s life cycle.  An audit can be performed to facilitate the equipment to pass inspection.  It is common to use the terms “elevator audit,” “elevator assessment” and “elevator survey” to refer to the same service.

The word “elevator” is commonly used to reference all vertical transportation including escalators, LULA, dumbwaiters and other types of equipment.

roller guide

This disintegrated roller guide had previously passed inspection but should not have

 

Elevator ADA Requirements

Many people have heard about the horrifying story of the woman who died in an elevator in the Chinese city of Xi’an. What makes it even more disturbing; however, is the fact that the woman had been in the elevator for over a month before being found. The elevator mechanics had cut off power to the elevator without properly assessing whether or not anyone was inside. Unfortunately, the country “has poor records on workplace safety where proper safety procedures and practices are routinely ignored,” according to the AP. This terrible incident begs the question of whether or not this woman’s death could have been avoided if code was enforced more strictly by the Chinese government. Moreover, there are no laws in place in China that resemble the Americans with Disabilities Ac t (ADA) that we have here in America. Elevator ADA code requires that there be a telephone in each elevator car that relays to a 24 hour answering service. Had this code been in place, the woman would have been able to call to the answering service and they would have been able to get her out immediately. Elevator ADA requirements also state that any failure to take prompt action to effect repairs to an elevator could constitute a violation of Federal laws.  If these elevator ADA codes had been implemented, the elevator would not have been shut down for thirty days for risk of violating ADA elevator requirements and the woman would have been found and promptly removed from the elevator cab. This situation highlights the importance of elevators being code compliant, in terms of ASME A17.1, CSA B44, ADA, and any Authority Having Jurisdiction. America is much more diligent than many other countries in terms of code compliance, but is not immune to tragic events.

Elevator Service Trends for Building Owners

  1. Building owners are paying for service that they are not receiving.

Today it is very common for buildings to have an elevator preventative maintenance contract and not to receive said preventative maintenance.

  1. Elevators are being neglected.

Elevators have been commonly referred to as the “black hole” within a building. The building relies on the elevator service provider for all the information about their equipment.

  1. Elevator contract Terms & Conditions dupe owners.

Buildings will sign an elevator preventative maintenance contract which is written by the elevator service contractor, which is referred to as being written on their “paper.” All terms are in favor of the service provider, relinquishing the building any control of the equipment they own.

All buildings containing an elevator or escalator are required by code to have a maintenance contract from an elevator service provider (ESP). The question commonly is asked, how can the ESP’s service be verified? Since there is no oversight, ESPs have the ability to circumvent accountability and avoid carrying out the maintenance they are contractually obliged to perform. Meanwhile, building owners are still being charged full price for the maintenance that is being ignored. This lack of maintenance ultimately shortens the lifespan of the equipment, leads to repairs and increasing risk, all the while driving up costs exponentially for the building owner. Building ownership has the ability to draft their own maintenance contract with their own Terms & Conditions. Ownership can empower itself by forcing the ESP to abide by their terms of service and holding them accountable. The benefits owners will receive ultimately are:  decrease cost, eliminate pre-mature modernization and unnecessary repairs, decrease RSF, reduced entrapments and/or callbacks, decrease CAM, no hassles when buying or selling the property, mitigating risk and tenant satisfaction from properly working equipment, among many others. For more information, read THREE ELEVATOR TIPS FOR BUILDING OWNERS.

What Is An Elevator Consultant?

What is an Elevator Consultant?

Upon hearing the term “elevator consultant,” one might wonder what the title specifically entails. Generally, a consultant is someone who is hired to fix or improve a component of their client’s business. The Elevator Consultants are brought in to ensure that the elevator equipment in a client’s building is functioning properly and according to the contract. In addition to assessing basic functionality, The Elevator Consultant deals with the elevator companies to determine whether or not they are meeting the terms of their contracts and servicing each elevator appropriately as required by each building. The Elevator Consultants have specific expertise in the areas of elevator maintenance, analysis, modernization, repairs, new installations, insurance reviews, safety specifications, elevator code, as well as state and federal regulations.

Cost Effective

The Elevator Consultants offer cost-effective ways of stabilizing the overall performance of vertical transportation equipment by seeking out measures of preventative maintenance. This is guaranteed to save the client money on their equipment. Audits are highly effective in determining the current conditions of all elevator equipment. Audits, in turn, highlight the necessary areas of maintenance in relation to the elevator company’s obligations to the equipment via contracts. The auditing process utilized by The Elevator Consultants allows the client to hold their service provider accountable to their responsibilities and ultimately give the client peace of mind about the safety and lifespan of their elevator equipment. The Elevator Consultants offers more services such as invoice reconciliation, modernization specifications, new construction specifications, maintenance specifications, audits, new code upgrades, violation resolution, general elevator questions and many other services.