Sunday, September 25, 2016

NAEC – Montreal United Convention

I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 NAEC United Convention.  It was a great event.  Every four years there is a United Convention which brings together the US and Canadian trades groups, NAEC and CECA.  This year the IAEC[consultants] where a partner in the convention.  This is a good way for contractors, suppliers and consultants to get together and share experiences, ideas, learn and see what is new on the market. 

Monday – We had a presentation on new technology form 8 different suppliers.  The two big items I took away was CEDES selling a new 3D scan device which will come out in 3 different phases which if it is what they say it is will be the only 3D scan that works well.  The other item was a non-heat producing push button lamp[led] replacement for some of the popular fixtures, no bleed through, no heat which are guaranteed for life from Mathis Electronics.

Tuesday – We had a key note address by Brian Holloway, AFC winning 85’ Patriots.  He was great and motivating and he did touch on the 85’ Bears.  We had our general business session and then our contractor session.  The hot topic in the contractor session was the MCP.  MEI gave a modernization start to finish presentation for efficiencies and best practices and Dick Gregory gave a talk about A17.1 which touched on OEO and MCP.

Wednesday – The show started which had a ton of suppliers showing their elevator equipment and new products.  There was also education sessions going on all day.  I attended Maxtons electronic valve presentation and another MCP informational session with John Koshak.  There was a opportunity for NAEC’s under 40 people, called NexGen, to get together for lunch.  During the evening there was a great dinner with Cirque performers.

Thursday – Final day of the trade show.  I got to attend a group that gets together called Bridge Builders which included NAEC, CECA, Elevator U, Elevator World, EESF, NAESA, ASME, NEII and groups from China, Japan & Argentina. 

It was a busy week going around the show from here to there but as much as I am ready to leave at the end of it, I get excited about elevators and getting back to work with the knowledge I got from the convention.  I saw countless good friends and business relationships and met more this trip.  The connections you can make in a reception, on the show floor, at an education session, at breakfast, at dinner, at a after party are invaluable.

Next year’s NAEC convention is in Orlando Florida. 

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Private Residential Elevators[PRE] in semipublic facilities – State of Illinois open territories

The latest State of Illinois Fire Marshall Elevator Safety meeting brought on some interesting potentials for facilities like churches, VFW, American Legions, etc that installed private residential elevators in them.

The only building that should have a private residential elevator is a private residence[one family].  Over the years instead of installing a typical commercial elevators churches, VFW’s and other similar buildings that have low traffic installed the PRE. This was never “street legal” but accepted for many years by many inspectors.

A contractor asked for clarification about some recent inspections not passing the lifts due to noncompliance.  The State indicated these lifts should not be passed as they are not included in the State of Illinois public act and should have never been issued conveyance #’s.  Buildings may have filled out the application many years ago and they were miss classified and went under the radar for years.

ASME A18.1 Safety Standard [§410.1]
ASME A18.1 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway ChairliftsPlatform lifts must meet the ASME A18.1 Safety Standard for Platform Lifts and Stairway Chairlifts. The ASME A18.1 covers the design, construction, installation, operation, inspection, testing, maintenance and repair of lifts that are intended for transportation of persons with disabilities.    However, use of a later edition of the ASME A18.1 may provide equivalent or greater accessibility.  Questions about the ASME A18.1 code should be directed to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (
While a final decision was not made it was indicated that any PRE must comply with A18.1.  This creates a significant issue for many buildings in open territories that work with the State for their certificates.  If a lift doesn’t have a current certificate they should not be maintained or worked on unless they get an extension.

Municipalities with agreements with the State - Towns with agreements with an elevator inspector will have more flexibility and may not need to comply with A18.1.  These would be towns like Glenview, Skokie, Des Plaines, Homewood, etc.

Take away – While not 100% answer was given buildings that are in “open territories” should talk to their lift maintenance provider about how to comply with A18.1. 

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sprinklers in elevator areas

Holy sprinklers Batman!  I have been to 2 buildings this week and heard of a 3rd building that is having issues with the addition of sprinklers to buildings that have caused significant code consequences to existing elevators.  To Illinois this is something that is new to most buildings, within the last 2-3 years.  Buildings have been installing sprinklers due to mandates, build outs, etc and have not addressed what their elevators need to do i.e. Fireman’s recall.

A building introduces a sprinkler to a 50 year old building, the building installs a heat detector next to the sprinkler heads, these heads can be in the elevator hoistway or machine room.  Some buildings even add a smoke detector next to the heat detector.  When you have heat detectors you need to have a shunt trip.

Building #1
[Elevator pit - Sprinkler and heat in the top right corner - needs a smoke detector - when you have a heat, you need a smoke]

Building #2
[Sprinkler sited - no shunt trip, when the sprinkler goes off there will be live electrical and electrify the elevator machine room]

So what is the big deal?  For 2 of the 3 elevators with new sprinklers, if the elevator is moving and people are in the elevator and the heat detector goes off, the shunt trip is triggered and the elevator loses power.  If someone is in the elevator, they will be trapped, and since the heat went off there is most likely a fire and the person in the elevator most likely will be exposed to tremendous heat, fire or danger.  The 3rd elevator I was made aware of does have fire recall but no flashing hat, this 3rd elevator has an even smaller potential for safety/danger but it is still lurking out there in a certain scenario.  Fireman goes in the elevator with out knowing that there is a fire in the pit or machine room[because there is no flashing hat], heat trips shunt, fireman is trapped.

What is the likelihood of this occurring to my building?  The likelihood of there ever being a situation is very small. However, any risk that can be avoided, should be avoided, there is not a price you can put on someone’s life.

I just installed sprinklers, heats and shunts, what do I do now?   You have to call your elevator contractor and have them identify if your elevator control system is capable of working with a fireman’s recall system and have a flashing hat.  Remember fire recall is different than having flashing hat. 

Logic behind this

Installation of sprinklers = installation of heat detector next to sprinkler head
Installation of heat detector = installation of smoke detectors
Installation of heat detector = installation of shunt trip
Installation of smoke detectors = Fireman’s recall is required on elevator controller w/flashing hat

How did we miss this?  The Bill Buckner like scenario is very common.  You have a building design team or fire system design team or sprinkler design team who meets the building department’s requirements.  Most design teams are not elevator code experts or ever know how it straddles into the realm of elevator systems. Very Common.  Unfortunately everything having to do with each component of adding sprinklers is expensive, even the elevator system.

What do I have to do now?  Most likely you will need to modernize the elevator control system.  There are elevator control system add on panels, most of the time we do not recommend the installation of this panel.  Every elevator is different you need to make a good decision based on the elevator system that is installed in your building.  Call your contractor, if you don’t like what they tell you, call someone who knows what options you have.

Sump pump -  If you have sprinklers you should also look into adding a sump pump, if that sprinkler ever goes off you will need a way to get the water out of the elevator pit.  And ask the Building Department what their stance on sumps on sprinkled elevator pits.

Most likely the building decision maker was doing everything correct with the information given to them by the other design professionals[building, sprinkler & fire].  Unfortunately if you are in this position they did not know enough to globally review the cost implication to the addition of sprinklers on other parts of the building.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chicago elevator maintenance - "we can do better" or "no time for maintenance"

Over the years I have been involved in the elevator industry I have seen an evolution of what elevator maintenance is.  I work as a contractor in the Chicago area and the evolution is sometimes alarming and difficult for me to wrap my hands around.  In my opinion there are three parts of the elevator maintenance equation; contractors, mechanics and building owners.  We all should have a significant interest in having safe and reliable elevator service. 

Elevator contractors are the maintenance contract holders.  It is the elevator contractor to supply enough people and time to complete elevator maintenance per their agreements with building owners.  It is the elevator contractor’s job to educate the building owner what they need to do to keep their elevators in safe and reliable working order. In the Chicago area we have started to see reduced time to complete elevator maintenance and the elevator technician given less time to do maintenance in a building.  If an elevator technician is not given enough time to complete a series of required maintenance tasks such as checking phone, door locks, emergency lights, fireman’s service, car top inspection, etc. they will not have time to keep their jobs clean and complete proactive equipment replacement such as door rollers, light bulbs, interlock contacts, etc.  I have bumped into mechanics who have told me some buildings they have 6 minute maintenance visits.  The only tasks you can do in six minutes is ride the elevator and go into the machine room and fill out paper work or enter information on your PDA.  Elevator contractors need to give elevator mechanics time to complete elevator maintenance.  Elevator contractors also need to give the elevator mechanic a maintenance control plan so they know what is required to be checked at buildings.

Elevator mechanics are the 2nd part of the elevator maintenance equation. With the changing of the new reality and our industry’s self-induced vision of what “elevator maintenance” is, it is difficult for mechanics to keep elevators running well.   I often say there are two parts to maintenance; time and motivation. Let us assume the elevator mechanic has enough time to complete elevator maintenance on an elevator.  We should be going through our company supplied check list and maintenance control plan to see what is required.  With the information that is supplied by the company we should be following the steps and looking at the safety items first; phone, door locks, door speed, emergency lights, fireman’s service, car top inspection, etc.  Next we should be looking for what needs to be attended to door rollers, light bulbs, and other items that may need to be addressed.  The next series would be to make sure your machine room, car top and elevator pits are clean.  The company should provide a check list and MCP for every elevator that should outline the expectations for each elevator and the company should give the mechanic enough time to complete the tasks associated with their expectations of having a safe and reliable elevator system.  If the mechanics are given the time to complete maintenance they also need to have the motivation.

Building owners are the final part of the equation for successful elevator maintenance.  A building owner should be hiring a reputable company, paying a fair price and taking the responsibility of their elevator systems.  No building owner likes paying more than market price for elevator maintenance.  Typically building owners are cost conscience of what money they are spending on maintaining their building systems.  It is up to the elevator contractors to educate building owners on what they need to do to have safe and reliable running elevators.  The key here is a there needs to be a good line of communication between building owners, contractors and the front line elevator mechanic.  Contractors and mechanics will not win with building owners who do not want to be reasonable with their elevator care.  This is where a building owner needs to be responsible for their elevator systems.  If no responsibility is taken we as contractors and mechanics will struggle giving you safe and reliable elevators.

Over the years I have also developed pride in being a part of the elevator industry, this is more than a job to me.  As a contractor it is alarming to hear building owners talk about not seeing their elevator mechanic.  It is alarming to hear about mechanics having 6 to 15 minutes 4 times a year to maintain an elevator with a full maintenance contract.   It is also alarming when we visit buildings to find elevators that building owners are not taking responsibility in maintaining and replacing equipment.  I believe everyone involved can take measures to improve the safety and reliability of the elevators we have contracts with, maintain or own.  We all need to work together so our elevators run safe.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Clean elevator pits and car tops – Chicago, IL

As a person who works in the office I get to see many elevators each week that other companies take care of.  Some are in good condition and some are not in good condition.  Some impress me and some do not.  When I see a clean elevator hoist way it impresses me that the elevator mechanic took the time to clean everything up.   Typically the clean elevators are an indication that elevator has an elevator maintenance program and a proactive elevator maintenance person.

On the flip side of this I used to work with a brilliant elevator person and cleaning was not on the top of his priority list.  But! If you had a broken elevator, he most likely could fix it and/or bail you out.  I think there is a good balance somewhere here.

With the industry wide work load increase, more stops, more tests, more this, more that.  We still try to stress cleaning our elevators up.  I get a frown face from our mechanics when we get a new accounts that are left in a disasters due to lack of care and they will have to bring it up to snuff.  On a Saturday night when a mechanic goes on a overtime call I wouldn’t want to be working on the moon and have to worry about tracking dirt, grease and grim all over the customers lobbies. I've had to take my boots off, go to my car get something to clean my boots off, it has been raining, now my socks are wet, you get the point.

Elevator car tops - This is a car top that the evil empire used to maintain. Before and after. 

[The fan is actually black and not gray - who would have known]

Elevator pits - The first picture is from a building I was at on Tuesday from a library.  The elevator professional told the building he didn't clean pits, it wasn't his job.  The mechanic having a sparkling personality, refusing to clean the pit and the increasing cost of the maintenance agreement is leading the building to change contractors.

[Then you get some buildings who use the pit as a garbage can - This is not the elevator persons job to clean up every month - If this is the case the contractor should be having a conversation with the building owner to curtail the behavior]

[This is a great looking pit - this was not from a building we maintained at the time so whomever did this it looks great!]

Elevator cleaning is always a work in progress.  By the time a mechanic gets a route clean, routes change, new elevators are added, buildings decide to get in the elevator shaft and drill holes in the wall and leave the cars and pits a mess, etc.

Building owners should pay a reasonable price for elevator maintenance to be performed and elevators cleaned.  Companies should give mechanics/apprentices enough time to complete reasonable cleaning.  And if given the time mechanics/apprentices should keep elevators reasonably clean.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hydraulic Elevator Modernization – Bloomingdale, IL

Last December I walked into a office building that was having elevator issues.  The elevators are moderately used and consistently had issues.  The elevators where Dover with a card logic system from mid to late 1970’s.  The building was looking for a solution.  I asked them if they ever thought about modernizing the elevator system.  The person I was with said, the current vendor never brought that idea up.  I said, "what do you think?  It is expensive but it will get rid of your nuisance issues with the older equipment".  He told me to send him pricing.

We ended up getting the modernization project and replaced the equipment with Smartrise Controllers, Innovation fixtures, MEI power units and GAL door operators.

[This was a very tight machine room before modernization]

[New machine room layout gives more room for elevator personnel]

[Car station before]

[Car station after]

[We installed flush mount hall stations and replaced the multi light large Dover P/I directional arrow combo with a combined fixture from Innovation]

I always like seeing the before and after pictures of these projects to see the contrast of what they looked like before and after. Elevators are now running great!

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Elevator maintenance control plan [MCP]

There is a lot of talk about what is required for an elevator maintenance control plan.  An elevator maintenance control plan is required on all elevators in the State of Illinois[including Chicago].  There is some confusion what is an acceptable maintenance control plan and the appropriate delivery method.

What is a maintenance control plan?  The maintenance control plan is the plan that the contractor has with the building to maintain the elevator system.  It should give the owner, mechanic, inspector and anyone else involved a run down on how the elevator is maintained.  It should be similar to a manual for your car.  It will tell you the following;

1.    Equipment age, condition and accumulated wear
2.    Design and inherent quality of the equipment
3.    Usage
4.    Environmental conditions
5.    Improved technology
6.    Manufacturers recommendations for any SIL rated devices or circuits
7.    Cleaning, lubrication and adjusting schedule
8.    Tests on the equipment & schedules per A17.1 8.6
9.    Code required written procedures for maintenance, testing and inspections
10. Maintenance records
11. Procedures for testing
12. Unique product specific procedures required to test equipment
13. Procedures on how to maintain the specific elevator

For a list of all the requirements look at A17.1

There is a lot to a maintenance control plan. While maintenance records are a component of the maintenance control plan they are not THE maintenance control plan, they are only records.

Many companies in the Chicago area use stickers saying “call 1-800-Elevator-Company for the maintenance control plan”.  This is fine as long as you have a delivery method for the maintenance control plan for the elevator personnel that is on site.  This would mean it can be delivered or emailed quickly to the inspector WHEN HE OR SHE IS ON SITE.  This would also mean the inspector would need to have email and a device to read the maintenance control program. Some companies have a CD in the elevator room, unless the inspector has a device to read the maintenance control plan this may not work as well as it most likely is not for that specific elevator in that specific building.  Some companies have books that include hydraulic elevators, traction elevators and escalators this may not pass as it is supposed to be for one specific elevator in that specific building.

In the City of Chicago they most likely will be requiring a hard copy of the maintenance control plan in the elevator machine room soon.  I believe the hard copy in the machine room is the most logical delivery device for the required information.

The requirement for a maintenance control program is being rolled out in many states and if you do not know what it is get familiar with it, ask your maintenance company and get one in your elevator machine room.  Inspectors will be requiring this shortly if they have not asked for it already. 

The requirement for a maintenance control plan has been in the elevator code for a number of years.  Why now?  After a few accidents in the State of Illinois it brought the importance of a maintenance control plan to everyone’s attention.

If a building does not have a maintenance program with a elevator contractor you will need to get one in order to have a maintenance control program.  You need a State of Illinois license to work on elevators therefore it would be appropriate to have an elevator maintenance provider write your maintenance control program.

When an elevator is altered or modernized an updated maintenance control program for that specific equipment should be in the elevator machine room.  The maintenance control plan is a living document that will change due to equipment replacement, age, usage, etc.

If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.