Wednesday, September 30, 2015

NAEC National Association of Elevator Contractors Convention part 2

Today was the first day of the show where we get to interact with suppliers and see what’s new or meet new suppliers.  I received some great help from GAL on a controller issue that we have been encountering.  It was great to actually talk with the their tech people and look through the control system together and then call the mechanic who was working though the issues[he was actually onsite] to give him the information from the creators of the controller. Thank you GAL.

[Picture of the show floor]
A part of the show there are educational events. I went to a wire rope lubrication educational session provided by Brugg Wire Rope that reminded me of all the dynamics of maintaining suspension cables properly and it gave some great tips to help us do our job as a maintenance contractor better.  Motion Control gave a session on MRL hoist way requirements which is helpful as MRL’s are becoming more and more of a reality to independent contractors.  Alliance Elevator gave a talk on educating architects on MRL’s and their long term costs to building owners. 
[Portable rope lubricator prototype in closed position]
[Portable rope lubricator prototype in closed position]
 [Alliance Elevator presentation]
 [MCE presentation]
I got to see people I have spoken on the phone and emailed for years.  One example is I have been talking and emailing a person at Access Supply, I met him today.  I have been sending this guy requests on odd ball starter contactors and relays for years and he always comes through with a good solution.  It is great we get to find out who is on the other end of the phone because while we have a work relationship we also get to know the person on the other end of the phone over time.

NAEC had a program with several safety equipment providers that you got a stamp on  a card for each booth you went to that was participating.  With safety being more and more important in our industry this is a great tool to spread awareness.  EESF and Elevator Riders Club had a poker run by visiting different booths.  I so far have a great hand!  I also got to visit with the NexGen group for lunch which is a group of elevator professionals under 40.  While I was the 3rd oldest of the group there it was nice to see new faces pop up that are either in the business or getting a start in the business. I shared an Uber with two Peelle's[Peelle Freight Doors] one of which I spent time with on a NAEC event and the other who spent time with Colley on a difficult freight door installation at a petroleum plant.

Today was a great day at the show, after the show I got to spend time with other contractors and suppliers at different events.  I got to spend time with people from Boston, Sacramento, San Francisco, New York City, Texas as well as familiar Chicago folks. We all do similar work in different parts of the country and the knowledge that we share is what we can take home and make our companies better.  
If you have any questions or would like information from Colley Elevator you can go to, email or call 630-766-7230.

Monday, September 28, 2015

NAEC National Association of Elevator Contractors Convention part 1

NAEC is an association of elevator businesses serving primarily the interests of independent elevator contractors and suppliers of products and services and promoting safe and reliable elevator, escalator and short-range transportation and promoting excellence in the management of member companies.

Once a year there is a convention, this year it is in Boston which I am currently at.  Over this few days I will post some pictures and information about the convention.  Some of the good things the NAEC is working on is a safety program for independent contractors as well helping develop a MCP[Maintenance Control Plan].  In attendance there are independent elevator contractors, elevator equipment and service providers and professional elevator service providers [consultants].

[Setting up for the convention]

I'm looking forward to meeting face to face with may people we deal with on a daily basis on the phone and over email.

Tonight was the Presidents reception and the EESF party.  EESF unveiled their new safety rider program for schools to promote conveyance riding safety.

Tomorrow is a key note address by economist Alan Beaulieu, general business session,contractor member session and round table discussions.  We get to talk to other elevator contractors who do the same thing we do across the country.  We get to see existing relationships as well as developed new ones.

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

Sunday, September 27, 2015

NAEC Boston Elevator Convention

At NAEC Boston Elevator Convention.  Will have update soon!

This is the largest convention in North America where contractors, consultants and suppliers get together once a year.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Internet of elevators - Elevator maintenance analytics

I was on a discussion board on Linked In and found some information on the “internet of elevators”.  Connecting elevators to the internet and giving alerts when there are issues is nothing new and the OEM’s and some larger independents have been utilizing this for some time.  We have been hearing about analytics for a bit now with Billy Bean and the Oakland A’s, Theo Epstein when he was at the Boston Red Sox[now Chicago Cubs], Google search, etc.  Analytics helps us use data to make better decisions using nontraditional correlations to get better value from decisions.

This is the post of someone selling a product to help independent companies similar product offerings as what the OEM’s are doing.

“Extreme market competition in recent years, the rise of union wages, and cost increases in parts; have had a negative impact on how elevator service was always performed in the past. No longer can service companies provide the preventative maintenance that they once were able to. 

There is a solutions though! By connecting your elevators to the cloud, we will have control like never before. Insuring higher profits, sales, customer satisfaction, and reliability/safety. We can transition to "targeted" and "predictive" maintenance, by using predictive analytic models and smart data from our elevators. 

I think the time has come for the Internet of Elevators! “

While I agree technology can aid in giving better maintenance to buildings, I don’t know if technology would pick up the items I got a text from a mechanic on Friday. 

36" of water in the elevator pit
  Hole in the elevator cab floor

The reason decision makers prefer to work independent companies rather than a multinational firm is because we will actually show up for maintenance, respond to elevator shut downs and return phone calls in a timely manner.  While there is value in technology aiding in maintenance, what I see is companies using technology for a reason to decrease man hours to buildings because “it is being monitored 24 hours a day”.  Monitoring this elevator 24 hours a day would not have picked up on 36" of water in the pit or the hole in the elevator cab floor.

I always ask building owners “how often do you want to see your elevator person in the building.” .  Most building owners are fairly specific in their expectations[if given options], we then can tailor a maintenance agreement to their desires[assuming their desires are reasonable].  When we go to a building that has a OEM maintaining the equipment I ask “how often is your elevator person at the building”.  They may say “once a month”, I ask “do you see them once a month or do you get a bill once a month”, typically the response is “I get a bill once a month and haven’t seen anyone in a long time” or “I don’t know when they come”.   Many companies do not leave maintenance records in the elevator machine room so it is impossible for building owners to know when their elevator is being visited by their maintenance provider. 

I agree there is a tremendous value in analytics and using technology to improve our services.  But, beware when the sale of technology moves more into smoke and mirrors in order to increase profits than to provide superior service.  I believe there is a benefit to having an experience person looking over critical building components on a regular basis.  Ultimately a building owner needs to have all of the information on benefits and service offering choices in order to make and an educated decision on what is best for their building.  If you’re a building owner START ASKING QUESTIONS about your elevator maintenance.  

Chicago Elevator Association meeting – October 8, 2015 6:30pm – Presenter is GAL

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Elevator Life Jacket sizing & City of Chicago mandates

Over the last few months we have gotten quite a few requests for the Adams Life Jacket product.  This may be due to the mandate by the City of Chicago requiring single bottom cylinders to be replaced or a safety device installed by 1/1/13. – I.E. Adams Life Jacket.  We are in the 3rd quarter of 2015 and there are still quite a few buildings that have not addressed their elevator single bottom cylinder.  The reason this is mandated is to prevent catastrophic failure that could cause damage to the elevator equipment and riders.  There have been catastrophic failures that have caused injuries and deaths. 

At one time I was not a believer of the catastrophic failure possibility until I witnessed a catastrophic cylinder failure in Chicago after CAT 1 testing in 2009.  The mechanic indicated he couldn’t get the car up after testing, I went to the building and found he was correct the car wouldn’t go up.  We removed the cylinder and found the cylinder no longer had a bottom to it.  If there where riders on this elevator when this occurred they would have had significant injuries.  This is another reason we complete annual CAT 1 testing on elevators, I would much rather see an elevator break during testing then when there are riders using the elevator.  Any financial component associated with installing a safety device or new elevator part is far less than injury or death claims.

Chicago Building code section 18-30-100 text :
14. (Safety Bulkhead). This section of ASME shall not go into full force and effect until 36 months after passage (Oct 7, 2009) and publication of this Ordinance (Nov 16, 2009). Provided however, that during such 36-month period, such existing installation shall be tested, at an interval of at least once every 12 months, in accordance with the requirements set forth in (Periodic Test Requirements: Category 1) of ASME.

ANSI 17.1 2007 text referred to above: Hydraulic cylinders installed below ground shall conform to, or the elevator shall conform to pr
(a) the elevator shall be provided with car safeties conforming to 3.17.1 and guide rails, guide-rail supports, and fastenings conforming to 3.23.1; or
(b) the elevator shall be provided with a plunger gripper conforming to
3.17.3. the plunger gripper shall grip the plunger when the applicable
maximum governor tripping speed in Table is achieved.

Summation - you can do 1 of 3 things; Install a new code compliant cylinder, install a car safety device on the elevator [governor] or install a Adams Life Jacket [plunger gripper].

We are only going to talk about the Life Jacket in this posting.

                                                  [Before Life Jacket installation]

[After Life Jacket installation]

Pros of a Life Jacket[Plunger Gripper] – Less expensive & complies with code.  The installation value[compared to cylinder replacement] for compliance of the Life Jacket goes up the higher the travel is.

Cons of a Life Jacket[Plunger Gripper] – Cannot be used on all elevators, if cylinder does ever have a leak it, cylinder needs to be replaced, the new cylinder would not require the Life Jacket to be reinstalled.  The Life Jacket can be reused but it would be a secondary safety item.

I was at three buildings on Thursday and measured the items under the elevator to see if a Life Jacket could fit.  2 did not have enough strike distance and one is on the bubble.

The most important measurement is the Strike Distance when the elevator is on the lowest landing.  You will need to have 9” to be within code.  The Life Jacket device takes 6” and you should have 3” of bottom runby.  You can get a variance to reduce the runby requirement, I would not recommend this as we have seen buildings with variances have continued issues with the car setting the Life Jacket and shutting the elevator down due to lack of bottom runby.

[Look at the silver portion of the picture, that is the piston and strike distance, there are 2", not a candidate for a Life Jacket, this was measured while the car was on the lowest landing]

[Life Jacket survey form]

Cylinder flange sizes – If your cylinder flange is over 17" you cannot install a Life Jacket

Most important take away – If you are interested in installing a Life Jacket[Plunger Gripper] make sure the elevator company completes a survey and understands if it will fit or not before signing a contract.  We have encountered some building owners getting stuck working with a company on a cylinder replacement because they committed to installing a Life Jacket that would not fit and the company required them to work with them on the cylinder installation.  Get all of the information 1st before you sign a contract!

The Life Jacket device is a great remedy for complying with the code requirement but a building owner should weigh the cost of the installation versus the installation of a new cylinder. 

If you are a building owner in Chicago and have not addressed your single bottom bulk head elevator, do it now!  You will be inspected and sent to admin hearings if you do not get moving. If you are in the Chicago area we have a great video of the installation of this device you can come to our office and watch.

Adams Elevator - More information on the Life Jacket go to

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

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Obsolete Elevator Equipment

From time to time we get questions about obsolete elevator equipment.  Some companies use this as a reason to bill building owners or tell them to replace their equipment.  At the company I work for we do not typically use this as a reason why a building owner should replace their equipment.  But, the reality is that there are times that the equipment is “obsolete” and parts cannot be found.  So for a repair you would have to “make something work”.   These are difficult conversations to have with building owners.  I will give two examples of where a company may have been misinformed about the availability because they did not want to replace the equipment and one which is a legitimately obsolete.

Definition – Obsolete –

1. no longer in general use; fallen into disuse: 
2. of a discarded or outmoded type; out of date: 

Example #1 – Motor control was causing issues on a high use elevator.  The incumbent vendor indicated that it may be the motor or the brake or something in the controller.  We had been at the building and bumped into the maintenance person from the incumbent company and they told us what the issue was.   After looking at the controller I suggested replacing the “Smooth Move” AC elevator control component.  The incumbent company wanted to install a new motor drive on the elevator because the “Smooth Move” control component was obsolete.  The only reason I remember this part so distinctly is because I had to find a replacement for a building on the north side of Chicago and any elevator part called “Smooth Move” I would not forget.  I looked up the part and it is still available in East Dundee, IL by Power Electronics.  I do not know if the incumbent was looking to maximize their benefit on this elevator or if they really didn’t know this part existed.  The take away here is that we need to exhaust our resources to find these parts. From a definition aspect, this part would be still in general use because someone is still making the part, while it may also be out of date technology. 

[What a great name - Smooth Move]

Example #2 – We are working on a controller which was damaged after some storms rolled through and now the elevator is having some intermittent issues with the PLC.  The company who made the control system is no longer in business.  The person who designed the system is still in the business but has sent out notes indicating that he will no longer support this product and all controllers should be considered for replacement.  When we as an elevator company run into this it becomes very difficult as there is no support and parts are few and far between, most of these replacement parts are used and not manufactured any longer.  This would quality as obsolete equipment as the company who manufactured the controller is out of business, there are not new parts available and there is no support available.  From a definition aspect this part is no longer in general use on elevators and it is out of date.

We as elevator contractors have a lot of equipment that is considered “obsolete” that we maintain, repair and take care of.  It is our responsibility to let building owners and managers know that the equipment should be replaced or they will incur potentially large repair charges and on the rare occasion, the elevator equipment may not be able to be repaired.  While I do not think a 30 year old elevator is old, our reality is that control component companies are not supporting their equipment after 15-20 years and calling it obsolete.

As a building owner or manager you should be reviewing your elevator equipment and talking with your vendor on what they should be planning for.  I recently saw some US Elevator Ascension 1000 controllers on a maintenance walk through and made a recommendation that they should consider replacing them.  They told me that is what their current vendor told them.  The elevators are from 1997, these are not old elevator systems.  The elevator company who installed the elevator is out of business, the company who acquired the company has fewer and fewer people that are familiar with this control equipment.  This all means that there are fewer and fewer options on repairing the elevator system if there is a significant issue.  On Friday at 4pm building owners do not want to hear “I cannot fix the elevator”, while it is only 18 years old, it should be replaced which will take weeks or months to get in process. The elevator company can typically send the solid state boards in for repair, but this does take days to do, which is a frustration for the building owner.  Talk about these situations and be proactive with the equipment replacement.  My suggestion is to get a new controller that has parts available and you can get tech support on.

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