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.