Sunday, September 17, 2017

Staying safe – Elevator worker safety

There was a 2nd accident on September 8th in Toronto that took a life of an elevator mechanic in the last two weeks. Please be careful out there.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Staying Sharp – Continuing education for elevator professionals

Last week we had our annual 10 hour continuing education course on the elevator code.  We had over 30 elevator professionals at our training area to get their CEU’s for State Licensing or QEI.  While it is always 10 hours and is a long day, I do enjoy this class.

When we graduate high school, associate’s degree, college, union school, trade school, grad school, etc there is a thought that we do not need to continue our learning.  “I just finished school, I’m good” this is wrong.  As technology changes, as codes and rules change, as changes become faster and faster, it is imperative that we spend the time learning.  Lifelong learning needs to be in everyone’s vocabulary.

This is an exciting year for the Illinois area.  The State is adopting A17.1 2016, The City of Chicago is adopting A17.1 2016, there are FEO mandates looming around, there are future mandates on the horizon.  You learn about these new things by putting your butt in the seat.

As inspectors, elevator inspectors, sales people and support staff it is very important we are aware of new technology and code changes.  It makes our jobs easier, makes advancement easier and helps us master our craft.  When we master our craft it takes a job and turns it into a passion.

I am a huge proponent of continuing education and lifelong learning and encourage everyone in whatever industry you are in to always continue to learn and challenge yourself to learn new things.  At times learning is uncomfortable and you may feel like you are never going to know or master these ideas.  This is a common feeling, just like in grade school, you will catch on and things will begin to click. But if you do not try, if you do not take the time to learn, if you do not try and advance your skill set, you are limiting yourself.  By not trying you will never fail at that task, but you will fail at reaching your potential.

Where do I find learning?  NAEC, NAESA, CECA, CEA, NEIEP and other elevator organizations offer opportunities on a regular basis.  We all can miss a few episodes of Everyone Loves Raymond or How I met your Mother, both shows will be here when you get back.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Elevator pit hazards & safe access

There have been some recent accidents involving elevator pits.  Pit safety is one thing that is of the utmost importance but we at times are complacent. This posting will be vague as non-elevator personnel should not be entering pits.  It is intended to be a refresher and remind us of close calls we have heard of or experiences so we do not repeat them.

Pit hazards

1.    Inadequate refuge space
2.    Inadequate lighting
3.    Improper access
4.    Tripping hazards
5.    Unsafe or lack of pit ladder
6.    Moisture/water/oil
7.    Moving equipment

[example of pristine pit conditions elevator mechanics run into]

One of the more important items is planning, look at the pit, identify the key pieces of elevator equipment and safety equipment as well as refuge area.  As we see in the picture sometimes there is a lot going on in a pit.

Lock out tag outs are a big item we need to remember to do when we are not needing to move an elevator to perform work.

Barricade the hoist way door if it going to be open more than 5”.  Even with two people performing a task, the 2nd person always tends to have to get something, be aware of this item.

Be aware of the hoistway door unlocking device pinch points if the door is under power.  If you haven’t experienced this, try your best not to, it isn’t pleasant.

Always be aware of the stop switch location and its position.

Always test the stop switch to make sure it actually works.

Never stand on a pit aldder when the pit stop switch is in the on position.

The Elevator Safety Handbook has processes for accessing a pit safely that goes into depth on the correct way to complete this task.  I wanted to list the high points that we may be over confident in.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Elevator machine room temperatures

This summer we have seen more frequent failure of solid state boards and equipment that has been exposed to extreme heat and extreme cold.  Building owners frequently ask “why is this occurring”.   I always like to give some research and background when explaining to building owners so they can be better educated and came across a great article which I have taken some of the high points.  When reading this be aware that most issues with machine room environments will result in a shut down or needing a replacement board, but, incorrect machine temperatures can also cause malfunctions which could result in an elevator operating in an unsafe condition.

The subject of the operation of an elevator in an elevated high ambient machine room temperature is one of concern of elevator manufacturers, code writes, enforcing authorities, building owners, and operators, elevator consultants and fire safety personnel.  Today’s solid-state design elevator control systems are able to maintain rated performance over a wide range of normal design operating temperature, but are vulnerable to elevated temperature conditions.

NEII Vertical Transportation Standard calls for machine room/or machinery spaced temperature to be between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit

NEMA has established a maximum temperature limit of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

National Electrical Code[NEC] has published 86 degrees Fahrenheit as the standard ambient for conductor ampacity ratings.

Computer manufacturers recommend an ambient temperature of 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The effects on solid state components due to temperature may be classified in two areas; operating[reliability] and failure[life].  The manufacturers recommendation for ambient temperature will allow the devices to operate in a repeatable and predictable fashion.  Temperatures above or below the recommended temperature will decrease the life of the solid-state system.

Please note - Elevator controller temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees warmer inside the controller with the cover on. If an elevator machine room is 105 degrees the temperature when you open the door, the controller could be over 120 degrees.

Causes of machine room over temperature
1.    Failure of machine room ventilation or no ventilation
2.    Failure of cabinet ventilation system – air condition or fan
3.    Increase in the elevator duty cycle beyond design criteria
4.    Sustained operation at low AC input levels

The recommendation of machine room temperature control come from a few different areas
1.    Normal temperature in room – In Chicago we have hot summers and cold winters
2.    Amount of heat released from the elevator equipment in the machine room – depends on the equipment you have and amount of traffic in the building
3.    Amount of ventilation and/or air conditioning/heating provided in machine room.

Take away – Be aware of the machine room environment and make preparations i.e. air conditioning[best case] or ventilation in summer and heating in the winter.

Reference – “High temperature operation of elevators” by Nick Marchitto

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Colley Elevator summer get together

Colley Elevator had its first of hopefully many summer get togethers.  This was a special one because we celebrated two long term employees upcoming retirement at the Chicago White Sox game.  We had 99 people attend the game with us.  We have two great people who will be moving on to their next part of life.  As coworkers we spend so much time together and get to know one another very well, this makes it exciting to see them move on.  Together we have 73 years of Colley experience leaving us, I am very happy we all got to share our time together!  

Both have known me since I was very little.  I worked side by side with Aida for 17 years in the office.  Dennis has guided me through understanding field work and has been my partner in the business for the last 10 years

 [This is a picture of the scoreboard!  Thanks Chuck!]

                                           [A group picture taken by Aida's son]

Thank you Dennis and Aida you will be missed!

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

NAEC strategic planning session

Last week I was able to attend the NAEC’s strategic planning session in Asheville, NC. 

  [Sunday dinner before the meeting started and a toast by our current president]

Every 3 to 5 years the Association gets previous, present and future board members together to map out the strategic direction of the association.  A survey went out to membership a few months before our meeting to find out what needs the membership has currently and what needs they believe they will have in the future. The next step is at the meeting and includes reviewing survey results of member ship and throwing up ideas to meet the present and future need.

 [Day one of the two day planning session.]

While I have been on the board for 2 years, I am the youngest board member.  While I have been involved in the elevator industry for around 20 years, there are many people with much more experience and knowledge than I have.  I understood that when you get a group of motivated and competitive people who run and managed their own businesses or business units it may get crowded. The gravity of the knowledge and experience of my counterparts hit me Monday morning when we got down to business.  During the first breakout session, I was in a group with a few people that had twice the amount of contractor experience, 2 to 4 times NAEC experience and had a big presence during discussions.  I learned a lot from my interactions with these individuals and was very impressed with my counter parts.

During the next two days we took 50+ pages of data and 22 people’s contributions on how to serve the immediate needs as well as future needs of NAEC membership and boiled it down to something tangible.  The implementation time lines for these big ideas ranged from now to 10 years from now.  While I had been a part of a similar process it is amazing how the ideas shake out from data to ideas to implementation strategies.   

The brilliance of the process was taking all of our big, motivated personalities and capturing the strengths and knowledge that comes from different parts of the elevator business[Contractors & suppliers from California to Florida to New York and everywhere inbetween] and focusing it to transform a massive amount data into actionable items.  One of the keys of this successful exercise was that we had a great facilitator who could keep us on track and harness our energy.

During the last few hours on the 2nd day everyone was running out of steam as this process is challenging.  What we came up with during these two days was 10 big ideas and the back end strategies how to accomplish these big ideas.  As I reflect on the experience on my 2nd flight of the day to get back to Chicago I am very satisfied with our results and believe it is a good path for the association for many years to come. 

Frequently, I get asked what do I get out of being a part of the NAEC Board of Directors. This last few days was a reminder that every time I am involved in these activities, I learn from the process but I learn more from the people.   The NAEC is fortunate to have such great contributors and I am fortunate to have been asked to be one of them.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Buildings flood and elevator damage

This last two weeks in the Chicago area saw a lot of rain, and consequently a lot of building’s flooded.  What to do when you building floods?

If possible shut your elevator off before water gets into the machine room – Do not shut the elevator off or go in the machine room if there is water in the machine room.

What to do after a building floods
            Get the water pumped out of the areas that are accessible and have water

            Put ventilation/fans in the area that flooded to move air around

            Have your elevator contractor assess the equipment

            Have elevator contractor assist in hoistway access to pump out water in elevator pit

            Make required equipment replacements

Hydraulic elevators – Hydraulic elevators may have damage to rails, cylinder, piston, packing, hydraulic line, switches, pit equipment & buffers, victolics, etc.

 [one of the pictures of a building we walked in on last week]

[The elevator pit after the water was pumped out of the basement]
[A photo of a building down the streets elevator pit]

Traction elevators – Traction elevators may have damage to rails, switches, pit equipment & buffers, compensation chain, tension sheave, governor cable, etc.

Each water damage situation is different in the affects to the elevator system so you should follow the lead of the elevator contractor to remedy.  Be aware that once a piece of elevator equipment gets wet it will not function the same, it may work but there will be lingering affects. Cables will begin to rust, contacts get corroded, pipes will get rusty, rubber will deteriorate and/or get hard and not perform the way they are intended.  All items should be addressed sooner than later or the lingering issues will become larger and create larger problems.

Take away – Consult your elevator contractor and follow their direction on how to properly repair the elevator correctly and complete the work quickly.

As always feel free to contact us at, email or call 630-766-7230.