Zen and the Art of Elevator Maintenance


In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, a discussion unfolds between motor-cycle enthusiasts regarding a set of assembly instructions that start by stating, “… to perform the task properly re-quires ‘Great Peace of Mind.’” As the conversation contin-ues, it is pointed out:

“The craftsman rarely follows a single line of instruc-tion. Instead, he makes decisions as he goes along. He continues his work totally absorbed and attentive to what he is doing. . . . The craftsman’s motions and the machine (being worked on) are in harmony. . . . The material and the craftsman’s thoughts are changing together in a pro-cession of changes until the mind is at rest at the same time as the material is right.”

It is this sort of philosophy and thought process that has been performed by some maintenance mechanics in our industry for decades. It has resulted in some of our industry’s equipment being able to operate for nearly 100 years. The still-operational Hollister-Whitney machine shown here was displayed at this year’s NAEC exhibition in Tampa, Florida (p.44). It is indicative of what has been done and can continue to be done by conscientious main-tenance mechanics who have the mindset to do their jobs properly and the necessary training on both new and ex-isting elevator equipment. This display was a testament to not only the designers of this turn-of-the-20th-century piece of equipment, but also to the maintenance mechan-ics who have continued to maintain it until it was (only recently) removed from service.

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