Author: Paul Torkan

Maintaining elevators may not seem like a very complicated job, however, it requires extensive coordination by individuals that are remote from your site. The remoteness adds complexity to the mix especially when planning or other skill sets are not mastered by those involved.  Additionally, mobile elevator/escalator technicians may not have your required sense of urgency, nor the proper motivation to complete all legislative inspections or overhauls adequately.

The majority of elevator and escalator downtime is due to lack of proper long-term maintenance planning, and delay in the repair itself, which is often caused by the following:

  • Technicians do not show up on time due to:
    • Excessive emergency work in the same area,
    • A planning mix-up at their back office,
    • Being preoccupied with routine maintenance taking place elsewhere,
    • Lack of urgency by their office or the technician.
  • A technician shows up and asks for another crew due to:
    • Being a larger job than expected,
    • Lack of electrical or control expertise.
  •  The technician shows up but cannot make the units operational due to:
    • Not having the right spare part in his truck or the right information from the end-user.
    • Newer elevators that a technician is not familiar with.

Strategies to receive the best possible service and minimize downtime revolves around proper management of contracted services and eight simplistic approaches to dealing with your elevator and escalator providers:

  1. Avoid a comprehensive service contract whenever possible. These will put the technician at ease when planning to respond. In the case of all-inclusive contracts, the whole company takes their time and your site may be the lowest priority since your site has already provided payment for parts & services.  If you decide to pursue a comprehensive deal, ensure that the next few strategies are included in your service agreement, one way or another.
  2. Work it out with the original manufacturers of the elevators/ escalatorsIf you move away from the OEM, you will always end up returning to them since you will require parts and knowledge, so try to communicate as much as possible about the nature of your business and the consequences of failures in your building.   Almost all elevator companies would want to work things out and provide excellent customer service, so help them help you. If you decide to use an alternative elevator service provider, the original manufacturers may conveniently delay parts delivery and create havoc for your elevators and escalators.
  3. Ensure that a strict response and rectification clause is incorporated in your service contract with the original manufacturer of the elevator/escalator. This approach may be easier done when the building is bidding for new elevators otherwise, it will not be easily acceptable by the elevator service provider, but try it and it might just work.
  4. Make a request for at least two designated local elevator technicians, who reside in the vicinity, to perform regular maintenance and to respond to emergency calls. This will create ownership and pressures the technician to perform routine work well to avoid receiving after-hours calls for entrapment or other elevator failures.
  5. Ensure that your service technicians sign in and out of your building, log their routine & emergency work, and their findings after each visit. This promotes accountability and follows up, plus the property owner or the operator needs to know which contractor is in the building and what work is being performed.
  6. Invest in a quality check of your elevators and escalators conditions by a consultant, at minimum, every 5 years. This can be incorporated into your capital plans and will be relatively inexpensive.  This approach will mitigate the property owner’s risk and creates a shift of liability back to the elevator service provider by getting the third party involved.
  7. Ensure that the elevator/escalator technicians are familiar with your site-specific units and receive adequate training.  Due to rapid change in technology, every elevator is slightly different than its previously built unit, so as part of your service contract, including a session of training provided by the elevator/escalator manufacturer for the technicians under your supervision.
  8. Ensure that you have adequate critical spare parts available on site, and stay in communication with other facility managers in your area with the same type of elevator/escalator. If a skilled technician with a knowledge of your elevator response promptly and have spare parts available, there should be no excuses for the technician to rectify the issue.

The information provided in this article is intended to demonstrate the author’s ability for facilities management services.  All recommendations are made without guarantee and the author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with the use of this information. Although the author has made every effort to ensure that the information in this article was correct at the time, the author does not assume any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or distribution caused by errors or omissions, whether such error and omissions result from negligence, accidents or any other cause.