Formula for Success
In this Readers Platform, your author describes how contractors, mechanics and building owners all play crucial roles in elevator maintenance.
During my 20 years in the elevator industry, I have seen elevator maintenance evolve. As a contractor in the Chicago area, I find this evolution alarming and, at times, difficult to wrap my mind around. In my opinion, there are three components to the elevator-maintenance equation: contractors, mechanics and building owners. Each should play a significant role in providing safe and reliable elevator service.
Elevator contractors hold the maintenance contracts and must supply sufficient people and time to complete elevator maintenance per agreements with building owners. It is the contractor’s job to educate building owners about what they need to do to keep their elevators safe and reliable. In the Chicago area, we have begun to see elevator technicians given less time to perform maintenance. If a technician is not given sufficient time to complete required maintenance tasks, such as checking phones, car tops, door locks, emergency lighting and firefighter service, he or she will not have time to keep jobsites clean and perform proactive equipment replacement of door rollers, light bulbs and interlocks.
Elevator contractors need to give elevator mechanics time to complete elevator maintenance. They also need to provide elevator mechanics with an MCP so they know what should be checked within each system.
I have bumped into mechanics who have told me some of their contracts require only 6-min. maintenance visits. The only tasks that can be performed in such a timeframe are riding the elevator, going into the machine room and filling out paperwork/entering information into a mobile device. Elevator contractors need to give elevator mechanics time to complete elevator maintenance. They also need to provide elevator mechanics with a maintenance control program (MCP) so they know what should be checked within each system.
Elevator mechanics are the second part of the equation. With our industry’s new definition of maintenance, it is difficult for mechanics to keep elevators running well.
I often say maintenance has two components: time and motivation. Let us assume a mechanic has enough time to complete elevator maintenance. He or she should be going through a company-supplied checklist and an MCP to see what is required. With the company-supplied information, mechanics should follow the steps and first look at safety items, such as emergency phones, door locks, door speeds, emergency lighting and firefighter service. Next, they should look for what needs to be attended to —door rollers, light bulbs and other items that may need to be addressed. The next steps should be to make sure the machine room, car top and elevator pits are clean.
The company should provide a checklist and MCP for every elevator system that outlines the expectations. Further, the company should give mechanics enough time to complete the tasks associated with operating a safe and reliable elevator system. If mechanics are given sufficient time to complete maintenance, they also need to have motivation and take pride in their job.
Building owners are the final piece of the equation for successful elevator maintenance. Building owners should hire reputable companies, pay fair prices and take responsibility for their elevator systems.
No building owner likes to pay more than market price for elevator maintenance. Typically, building owners are conscious of how much money is budgeted for building maintenance. It is up to elevator contractors to educate them about what they need to do to provide safe and reliable elevator service.
Contractors and mechanics will not win with building owners who refuse to be reasonable about elevator care.
There needs to be open communication among building owners, contractors and frontline elevator mechanics. Contractors and mechanics will not win with building owners who refuse to be reasonable about elevator care. This is where building owners need to take responsibility for their elevator systems. If no responsibility is taken, we, as contractors and mechanics, will struggle to provide safe and reliable vertical transportation.
Over the years, I have grown proud of being part of the elevator industry. It is more than a job to me. As a contractor, it alarms me to hear building owners talk about not seeing their elevator mechanics. It is alarming to hear about mechanics having 6-15 min., four times a year, to maintain an elevator under a full maintenance contract. It is also alarming when we visit buildings and find that building owners are failing to take responsibility with proper elevator maintenance and equipment replacement.
I believe all players involved can take measures to improve the safety and reliability of elevators they own or maintain. We all need to work together so our elevators run safely.