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 www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

When is it time to modernize a elevator?

Frequently we get the question from buildings, “when should we modernize our elevator?”.  The answer will always be different depending on the traffic, environment, maintenance that has been performed on the elevator system and what a building’s expectations of the elevator system are.   I believe after 20 years a building should be looking into what their elevator company believes is the life expectancy of all the components of the elevator system.

Building traffic – A sleepy 16 unit building’s elevator will last longer than 48 unit building.  In the commercial environment if you have a stairwell in the front of the building it will save the elevator a lot of wear on tear then if everyone uses the elevator.  Every building will be different with their traffic flow.

Environment – If a building’s environment is good, no water or moisture, heated and cooled in winter and summer, treated well by the riders, etc the elevator will last longer.

Performed preventative maintenance – If the company or mechanic who is doing the maintenance is doing their job, the elevator will last a lot longer than if no one is going to the building or people are going to the building and not doing proper maintenance.  If you catch small problems before they turn into large problems you will be in a good position.

Expectations of elevator service – We service buildings that have a 50+ year old elevator and are ok with shut downs.  We service buildings with a 10 year old elevator that are not ok with any shut downs.  If a building’s expectations are to have reliable elevator service 100% of the time, they need to keep an eye on the elevator’s age and have an open dialog with their elevator contractor.

What made me think of this topic was a building we had been maintaining for a very long time choose to modernize their equipment, we had been keeping them in the loop with pricing and equipment conditions for at least 10 years.  Their equipment was 30 years old, well maintained and was reliable but they wanted to make sure their equipment was reliable for years to come.  We also ran into a building where their 15 year old elevator sprung a cylinder leak and they called all hands on deck to get their elevator back to service.  This was very expensive.  One building was prepared and one building was not prepared.  For the building that wasn’t prepared, who would think your elevator cylinder would go out when it is fairly young, but it happened.  The take away is to be prepared and have a dialog with your current elevator contractor, or call us and we can give you our recommendation.

 [This is a modernization we are doing for a building that has been on top of their elevator's life cycle and their expectations for elevator reliability.]
[If you can name the manufacturer of this car station I will be impressed, with that said when we start seeing an elevator's equipment turn obscure[due to age and other similar elevators being replaced] a building needs to be aware that it will be more difficult to work on and they need to plan to modernize]


As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Modernization of an elevator traction machine

In Chicago we have some very old buildings and aging elevator equipment.  When working on a traction modernization we always take a look at the traction machine and figure out if the machine needs to be changed.  There are several items you in consideration replacing the machine.  I am by far not an expert on elevator traction machines but here are a few things I have learned.

Machine wear – This is a very important item to look at.  Is the existing machine in good condition?

Internal machine wear – You need to look at the machine to see if has wear on the gears.  Wear or uneven wear is typically indicative of lack of maintenance, bad installation or high usage.  I recently ran into a building that the gears had to be changed because the OEM had this machine on an “as needed” maintenance visit, which meant not very often, they ended up having to pull the gears out to have them replaced because the gear oil was very low.



Sheave wear – Most sheaves can be recreated by a machine shop.  We have used Titan Machine in New York for fabricating some sheaves that are out of production and they have done a great job.  There is a point where the cost for repair/recreation of sheaves exceeds the cost of new machine.  Once your drive sheave wears you begin to wear your cables and your lifespan on each cable typically is cut down by 50% each recable.  Again, if you are not watching this on maintenance you will have early wear and you will be chasing your tail to change cables to not wear your sheave more and to change your sheave not to wear your cables.

Logistics of changing an existing machine – 90% of elevator machines are located in a penthouse on top of the building.  This creates a challenge how to get a new machine into the machine room.  Some machine rooms have scuttle holes, some do not.  Some machine rooms have room to hoist, some do not.  One item you have to look at is how bad in the machine versus the cost to remove a building wall, ceiling, floor to get a new machine in.  We had a building that required a 3600lb machine to match the drops of the existing machine.  The issue was there was no pick points and 2 flights of stairs, no easy way to get the new machine up and the old machine down.  We ended up using a smaller machine with blocking[to get the correct rope drop].  This is not a high traffic or high-speed elevator so it wasn’t a huge concern about using a smaller sheave.  We recently had a building the should have had the machine replaced but since it was mounted in the attic of a historic building with slanted roofs we opted to retain the machine and change seals. Again this elevator was not a high traffic or high-speed elevator so it will hold up for a long period of time.

[This machine was on a 4' platform and has a slanted 100 year old roof making the replacement difficult, the building opted to keep the machine]

[A new machine going up to replace a 1960's Otis]

Future reaction points – This is the most important part of the equation.  Buildings are built with machine beams for the elevator that is originally installed.  At times, a new machine has different reactions which will require larger machine beams or a different layout.  This can create a significant problem if it isn’t paid attention to.  The problem being the structural integrity of the building.  If you are not knowledgeable of structural support I would recommend having a structural engineer complete the calculations prior to installation or recommending replacement.



Accessibility of parts – You need to understand if someone can supply, fix or fabricate parts if the machine needs component parts replaced.

Motors – Most motors can be replaced or rewound.  Some motors are obscure so an old Montgomery flange mount motor may not be fabricated by a 3rd party as an AC motor so the machine may need to be replaced if the controller is modernized.

Gears – There are still some machine shops out there that can fabricate gears, but at what cost?

Brakes – There are a few elevator brake providers that can work with any machine.  Again, there are obscure machines that make it nearly impossible to retrofit a new brake.  This is where a machine shop comes in to repair the old brake.

Speed & efficiency/Gearless machines – The “gearless” product is becoming very popular.  Gearless motors are smaller and can give you better electrical efficiency and can go faster than a geared machine.  Gearless motors also can have a shorter life than a typical geared traction motor.  The precious metals used for most gearless motors are created in China and also create a large amount of undesirable waste with their creation.



What I did not touch on is the cost of replacing a machine during an elevator modernization which often is the largest driver of if it is replaced or not.  The machine replacement is often the largest expense of the elevator modernization project.


As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Elevator ladder safety - 3 point rule

Working in the elevator trade, the threat of falling while mounting, dismounting or climbing a ladder is a sure way to get seriously hurt. An insurance industry study showed that falls from ladders were almost 25 percent worse than other types of fall injuries. Whether you are working in an elevator pit or in the machine room safety should always be the number one priority.
Even an ankle sprain can play havoc with your ability to perform everyday tasks and can cost you big in terms of lost income and downtime. The biggest single cause of falls from a ladder is user error and failure to follow the three-point rule.
What Can You Do To Avoid Falls
No matter if it is an elevator pit ladder or an extension ladder, always use the three-point system to significantly reduce the chance of a slip or fall. The three-point system means three of your four limbs are in contact with the ladder at all times – two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.
The three-point system allows a person to have maximum stability, support and control, thereby reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling. Be a winner; use the three-point system.


DOs

  • Always inspect the ladder before use.
  • Secure the base and top of ladder to prevent accidental movement.
  • Set the ladder on a firm level surface.
  • Look for and remove obstacles from the base and top of ladder.
  • Ensure that ladder rails extend at least three feet above the landing.
  • Always face the ladder when climbing up or down and while working from it.
  • Set straight or extension ladders one foot out for every three to four feet up.
  • Stand no higher than the third rung from the top. Maintain knee contact for balance.
  • Wear shoes with good support and check to be sure they are clean of mud, grease, or any slippery materials that could cause loss of footing.
  • Slow down and use extra caution before proceeding. Get a firm grip on the
    rails.
This is a repost from our ECA friends at Bay State Elevator http://baystateelevator.us/

As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Obsolete elevator equipment – What does this mean?

From time to time we as elevator contractors run into older elevator equipment or not so old elevator equipment that is not supported nor sourced any longer.  One of the hard to swallow conversations for a building owner to hear is “your elevator equipment[part] is obsolete”.  What does this mean?  And how does effect you?

Definition of obsolete – Dictionary.com

1. no longer in general use; fallen into disuse:
an obsolete expression.
2. of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date:
an obsolete battleship.
3.(of a linguistic form) no longer in use, especially, out of use for at leastthe past century
Compare archaic.
4. effaced by wearing down or away.

How this pertains to elevator full maintenance agreements – An elevator full maintenance agreement should cover your elevator system in reasonable conditions.  This would mean if a door part failed in normal operation, the elevator contractor would replace it and wouldn’t charge you.  If a solid state control board failed in normal operation the elevator contractor would replace it and wouldn’t charge you.  The obsolesce issue comes in play when a direct replacement is not available from the original equipment manufacturer

For manufactures that are still around but stopped supplying replacement parts - i.e. a R4 regen drive is replaced with a R6 regen drive and wiring changes are required, or a MCE white box requires replacement with a different solid state board set that is not a direct replacement, Virginia Controls had their electronics supplier discontinue their support of their MH2000 product line, their new solution is to install a MH3000 board set. These are three examples of companies that are still around but do not or cannot support their products with direct replacements. Or to make it more colorful, while some companies names are still on the parts, they have made financial arrangements for the warranty and technical support to be provided by a different entity.  The assumed life span of electronic parts & support should be 15-20 years. Please note to expect curve balls. [edit 6/29/17 with Virginia Controls clarification on the MH2000 control series]

For control manufacturers that are no longer around – Typically when a manufacturer “closes” its doors someone buy’s their assets.  This poses a difficult scenario where instead of a replacement of a board or drive, you may be required to replace the entire elevator controller.  In the Illinois area we had a contractor/manufacturer, Long Elevator, that was acquired by Kone.  Kone did not choose to support the Long product line for very long. Long Elevator installed many elevators in our area.  Now we are seeing board failures and replacement parts being unavailable. We typically first try to find a electronics company that can repair the solid state boards, if this is not successful or the board is not repairable the building is forced to replace their elevator controller.

 [A Long Elevator controller mounted on the elevator car top, these boards are not available nor supported, when a board goes out on this elevator it gets interesting, not a good interesting]

  [This is a very old ESCO controller, most of the parts are available with exception of the timers and relays which can be retrofitted]

 [A US Elevator with solid state boards, similar to the Long Elevator this gets interesting when a board needs to be replaced or repaired, as this was a more popular controller we have more outlets that are familiar with repairing boards, but there is no support nor has this been manufactured in many many years]

Hours of replacement - Please note that the replacement typical is covered during normal working hours unless you have a 24-hour maintenance agreement.

Why is the building responsible for paying for replacement for “obsolete” equipment – The simple answer is that is says this in your elevator maintenance contract.  The longer answer is as contractors, we have no way to predict the life cycle support for electronics or different product lines.  Contractors also do not have a way to predict what a future repair solution and cost would be if a product line is discontinued.  We know that a replacement of a power supply, microprocessor board, motor drive that is a direct replacement will have a parts cost of X and a labor cost of Y. At the end of the day while an elevator contractor does have a contractual responsibility to maintain the elevator equipment to the best of their ability, it is still owned by the building and the building does bear the final responsibility.

Planned obsolescence – Wikipedia

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design and economics is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete (that is, unfashionable or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.[1] The rationale behind the strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases (referred to as "shortening the replacement cycle").[2]
Producers that pursue this strategy believe that the additional sales revenue it creates more than offsets the additional costs of research and development and opportunity costs of existing product line cannibalization. In a competitive industry, this is a risky strategy because when consumers catch on to this, they may decide to buy from competitors instead.
Planned obsolescence tends to work best when a producer has at least an oligopoly.[3] Before introducing a planned obsolescence, the producer has to know that the consumer is at least somewhat likely to buy a replacement from them. In these cases of planned obsolescence, there is an information asymmetry between the producer – who knows how long the product was designed to last – and the consumer, who does not. When a market becomes more competitive, product lifespans tend to increase.[citation needed] For example, when Japanese vehicles with longer lifespans entered the American market in the 1960s and 1970s, American carmakers were forced to respond by building more durable products.[4] A counterexample is Moore's law, stating that the rather competitive electronic industry plans for double computer capacity every 18 months, and the software industry plan for new program versions that require double computer capacity every 18 months.[5]


Purpose of this post – The purpose of the post is to provide some additional clarity of the murky waters of “obsolesce”.  It is a word no one likes to hear, it is a word that screams expense, and it is a word we have spirited debates over.  A solution is to talk to your elevator contractor about this and have a plan of action, modernization, repair, etc in a worse case scenario.

As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Comprehensive elevator door restrictor wrap up

This is a comprehensive door restrictor wrap up. We get a lot of questions in our area about door restrictors when some of the restrictors begin failing.  Many in our area haven’t worked for years due to entrapments. We get asked; Why did it fail? What is the next step?  We say “replace it with XY or Z”.  But many building owners have no idea what a door restrictor is or the differences between the different types.

What is a door restrictor? – A door restrictor is a device that restricts the elevator car door from opening more than 4” when it is outside the landing zone.  The landing zone is typically 18” above or below the floor.   Essentially this device traps someone in the car so they cannot get out of the car and fall below the car down the hoistway.  An elevator person or emergency services should be called to get a person out safely.

Why did the door restrictor come about? – I know there are people out there that can explain or tell this more accurately than myself, but, from what I know there was a series of accidents within a short period of time with people getting out of an elevator that was out of the landing zone and they fell down the hoistway and got seriously injured or died.  I believe a few of these accidents occurred in Chicago in the 1990’s.

ADAMS HATCH LATCH - The Adam's Hatch Latch is an electrical mechanical device that incorporates 2 sensors one for position of the elevator and one for the position on the door, a solenoid that picks and drops to allow the car door to open and close and a microprocessor board that operates the system.  There is a new version that operates a bit different with the 2nd sensor eliminated and replaced with a magnet.


[This particular door restrictor doesn't appear to capture the door position with the 2nd sensor]

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Will work with most elevator door systems – very flexible

Cons
1.    Many failure points – If any of these items fail it may cause an entrapment
a.    Battery failure - may not cause entrapment
b.    Board failure
c.    Solenoid failure
d.    Sensor failure
2.    Some versions are obsolete


3.    Requires on going maintenance


GAL - In the United States the GAL door operator is the most popular supplier of door equipment.  We as an independent contractor have been using GAL since the mid 1960’s.  When we install new GAL equipment or replace old GAL equipment with new we get a new clutch with a mechanical restrictor on it. 

This is the 2nd of  3 restrictors we discuss pros and cons for 

 [This particular elevator used a new clutch and changed the clutch release rollers on each floor to comply with the State of Illinois mandate requiring all passenger elevators to have door restrictors]

 [Older GAL door restrictor]

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Reliable
3.    No electronic parts

Cons
1.    Can be installed wrong and cause entrapments
2.    Wear points


3.    Cannot be installed on all elevators

SEES - The SEES door restrictor is newer to our Chicago market.  Dover/Otis had been using a similar restrictor for years, I’m not sure why it took a while for it to hit the open market.  This restrictor if it can be installed is great, all mechanical, no failure points.

There will be 3 restrictors we discuss pros and cons for, the SEES mechanical door restrictor is a great restrictor our preferred for most of our projects.

[Car door restrictor vane - notice it is retractable]

[Flags placed on the hatch door to "restrict" the car door]

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Reliable
3.    No electronic parts

Cons


1.    Cannot be installed on all elevators


GAL CANADA/ECI - The GAL Canada/ECI door restrictor is fairly versatile and can be used on many applications.  I have seen it installed incorrectly causing doors to slam and there are more parts then some of the other door restrictors out there.  We have not installed any of these but the ones we have repaired have worked great and the support GAL Canada gave was incredible.



There will be 5 restrictors we discuss pros and cons for.  This one is GAL Canada or ECI’s mechanical door restrictor  

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Reliable
3.    No electronic parts
4.    Great customer service

Cons
1.    Cannot be installed on all elevators

2.    Can be installed wrong


ELECTRODYNE - The Electrodyne door restrictor is similar to the Adams door restrictor in its function.

There will be 5 restrictors we discuss pros and cons for.  This one is Electrodyne door restrictor

 [This is the locking mechanism of the door restrictor to keep the car door closed]

  [This is the car top control box]

                                [These are the flags it uses to identify hoistway location] 

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Versatile – can be installed on most elevators

Cons
1.    Can have failures due to Electrical and mechanical parts
2.    Louder than other door restrictors
3.    Not popular in the Chicago area – mechanics not as familiar with this device

Purpose of this information - We frequently see on elevator violations “Repair door restrictor” or we see entrapments due to malfunctioning door restrictors.   If a building has a door restrictor from the 1990’s, 2000’s there may be a better replacement such as a door clutch mechanical restrictor or a SEES style door restrictor or replace with a newer version of the Adam’s Hatch Latch.

As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Electrodyne electro mechanical door restrictor

This will be the final on elevator door restrictors, there will be a comprehensive wrap up after this.  We get a lot of questions in our area about door restrictors when some of the restrictors begin failing.  Many in our area haven’t worked for years due to entrapments. We get asked; Why did it fail? What is the next step?  We say “replace it with XY or Z”.  But many building owners have no idea what a door restrictor is or the differences between the different types.

What is a door restrictor? – A door restrictor is a device that restricts the elevator car door from opening more than 4” when it is outside the landing zone.  The landing zone is typically 18” above or below the floor.   Essentially this device traps someone in the car so they cannot get out of the car and fall below the car down the hoistway.  An elevator person or emergency services should be called to get a person out safely.

Why did the door restrictor come about? – I know there are people out there that can explain or tell this more accurately than myself, but, from what I know there was a series of accidents within a short period of time with people getting out of an elevator that was out of the landing zone and they fell down the hoistway and got seriously injured or died.  I believe a few of these accidents occurred in Chicago in the 1990’s.

The Electrodyne door restrictor is similar to the Adams door restrictor in its function.

There will be 5 restrictors we discuss pros and cons for.  This one is Electrodyne door restrictor

 [This is the locking mechanism of the door restrictor to keep the car door closed]

  [This is the car top control box]

                                [These are the flags it uses to identify hoistway location] 

Pros
1.    Easy to install 
2.    Versatile – can be installed on most elevators

Cons
1.    Can have failures due to Electrical and mechanical parts
2.    Louder than other door restrictors
3.    Not popular in the Chicago area – mechanics not as familiar with this device

Purpose of this information - We frequently see on elevator violations “Repair door restrictor” or we see entrapments due to malfunctioning door restrictors.   If a building has a door restrictor from the 1990’s, 2000’s there may be a better replacement such as a door clutch mechanical restrictor or a SEES style door restrictor or replace with a newer version of the Adam’s Hatch Latch.


As always feel free to contact us at www.colleyelevator.com, email Craigz@colleyelevator.com or call 630-766-7230.