Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hydraulic elevator modernization – Arlington Heights, IL

This was a hydraulic elevator control modernization we did in Arlington Heights, IL.  I think it is always really interesting to see before and after pictures of these projects to see how dramatic the building’s elevator system change.

Current elevator system – The current elevator system is an ESCO elevator that was installed in 1969 by Gallagher & Speck.  This elevator system while historically has been very reliable has worn out its welcome with the building with nuisance service calls and interruptions.  The issues this particular elevator is experiencing is typical with a 49 year old elevator system.

New equipment suppliers
            Elevator controller – Smartrise Engineering
            Door operator – GAL MOVFR II
            Fixtures – Innovation Industries
            Hydraulic power unit – MEI w/Maxton UC4 Valve

Elevator control system – The old relay based ESCO elevator controller has been replaced with a new solid state Smartrise Engineering hydraulic control system.  As you can see some major control components have been replaced over the years.

[Old Esco controller]

[New Smartrise hydraulic elevator controller]
Elevator door operator – The existing elevator’s door operator is a GAL MOD which is all mechanical based door operator with resistor & mechanical cam door controller.  The new GAL MOVFR II is a solid state closed loop door operator which is a direct replacement.  Mod team did a great job painting the car top.

[Car top before modernization]

[Car top after modernization]

Elevator fixtures – The old ESCO elevator fixtures have been replaced with new ADA compliant elevator fixtures.  Note, the larger 1st floor hall fixture has code required devices such as Fireman’s recall phase I and the emergency elevator telephone monitoring.

[Old Esco car station]

[New Innovation car station]

[Old Esco 1st floor hall station]

[New Innovation 1st floor hall station]

Hydraulic power unit – The old ESCO dry power unit has had a Maxton UC4 valve installed in the 1980’s sometime will be replaced with a new MEI submersible hydraulic power unit with a Maxton UC4 valve.  The new submersible power unit has less expensive and easier to access replacement parts.

[Old Esco pump, motor & valve]

[New MEI submersible power unit w/Maxton UC 4 valve]

Machine room - Great new look with the new equipment.  

[Old machine room]

[New machine room layout]

Take away – While elevator modernization is very expensive you can see form the before and after pictures that this project made a world of difference between the old equipment and the new equipment.

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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chicago Elevator Association [CEA] – Night at the Races

The Chicago Elevator Association [CEA] is the longest running elevator association in the country.  Each year they offer several scholarship opportunities for a minimum of four $500 scholarships to students pursuing a post-secondary degree. Any daughter, son, stepchild or grandchild of a CEA member in good standing is eligible.

This years event was at the Hawthorne Race Track – Cicero, IL.

The CEA is such a great organization to be a member of and this event bolsters their commitment to not only bettering the elevator industry but those who have children moving forward in their education that are a part of our elevator industry.   This event was a good time for a good cause

If you didn’t apply this year, there will be a next year, get your applications in!!!

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

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Proprietary elevator controls Vs. Non-proprietary elevator controls

As an independent elevator contractor, we do a lot of educating of building owners on what type of elevator control system to purchase.   As independent elevator contractor we spend a lot of time talking about proprietary vs. non-proprietary elevator equipment. 

We will talk about both proprietary and non-proprietary elevator systems

Definition of proprietary - As an adjective, belonging to ownership; owned by a particular person; belonging or pertaining to a proprietor; relating to a certain owner or proprietor. Proprietary refers to ownership or characteristics relating to ownership.

What proprietary means to an elevator owner?  This means that the XYZ company who installs this equipment owns the ability to discriminate service tools, technical support and parts for the elevator system.  Legally the elevator contractor has to supply parts for the elevator system but they do not need assist in troubleshooting or sell the diagnostic system[even if the diagnostic tool technically belongs to the elevator owner when they purchase the elevator].

Examples of proprietary elevator systems – Otis, Kone, Schindler, Thyssen Krupp[to name a few].

[Otis 211 elevator controller - proprietary]

[Schindler 330A elevator controller - proprietary]

[Kone KCM elevator controller - proprietary]

[Thyssen Krupp TAC 20 elevator controller - proprietary]

[Thyssen Krupp TAC 32 elevator controller - proprietary]

Maintenance costs of proprietary systems – maintenance costs of proprietary systems are usually higher then non-proprietary systems.  The reason the costs are higher is that there is a less supply of contractors who will work on proprietary equipment.  Less supply of service providers = higher prices.

Definition of non-proprietary - not registered or protected as a trademark or brand name; generic.
(especially of computer hardware or software) conforming to standards that are in the public domain or are widely licensed, and so not restricted to one manufacturer.)

What proprietary means to an elevator owner?  It means that anyone and everyone that is qualified to work on elevators has access to software, diagnostic systems & technical support.  More flexibility with an open architecture plan.

Maintenance costs of non-proprietary systems – Maintenance costs for a non-proprietary elevator system will most likely be less because you will have a larger supplly of contractors willing to work on the elevator system.  More supply of service providers = Lower prices.

Examples of non-proprietary elevator systems – MCE, Smartrise, GAL, Vertitron Midwest, Virginia Controls, Elevator Systems, Elevator Controls among others.

[MCE elevator controller - non-proprietary]

[Smartrise elevator controller - non-proprietary]

What is the best thing to do as a building owner or property manager?  Educate yourself on what is being sold to you.  I walk into meetings with educated people who are mystified with this elevator bid process and they have no idea what they are buying.  I hear “The Multinational corporation guy brought us fancy folders and had a flashy presentation and said “I promised you anyone can work on our equipment””.  I have to spend time explaining what the pros and cons are for each elevator system are.  And when the building owner hears that the proprietary systems do not supply technical support on their system, they begin thinking about it long and hard. My opinion is that there is nothing to gain by tying yourself to one vendor with a proprietary system.  If you have elevator company ABC install your controller, in 5 years if you don’t like ABC you would like to flexibility to hire company DEF, or company HIJ or whomever.  Non-proprietary systems gives you this flexibility. 

Note - As far as quality all of the elevator systems listed in this post are good operating platforms, the take away is how much flexibility do you want as an owner of equipment in the future to insulate yourself from a non competitive market place for elevator maintenance.

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

Sunday, May 6, 2018

IAEC[International Association of Elevator Consultants] annual forum– Chicago, IL – April 25th-28th 2018

One of the cool things I get to do as the President of the NAEC[National Association of Elevator Contractors] is to attend the IAEC annual forum.  I have never been to this and was excited to get to experience it for myself.  The IAEC is the International Association of Elevator Consultants. 

I attended the opening night reception and vendor booth visitation.  I had just seen a majority of the vendors in Carlsbad California at the NAEC Spring Conference but this time they had a table top set up to show their products.  I also got to talk with some old industry friends and met Paul Rosenberg who is a consultant in the Milwaukee area.  Colley Elevator used to install Rosenberg equipment many moons ago so it was pretty cool to meet someone who has a link to that because we still have some Rosenberg equipment on maintenance and some artifacts around the shop.  There was also a silent auction to benefit the EESF.

Janus line seizing device - this can be used when you had multiple elevators that share the same phone line or to reduce the number of phone lines.  You have to buy the seizing device as well as replace the car station phone.

MEI/Vertitron's mobile app - Steve from Vertitron showed me the new mobile device that will work on any newer elevator controller that will allow you to make calls from you phone.  We don't run into this very often but once in a while we do get a request so it is good to know there is a source.

Wednesday began the education part of the forum.  I did not attend this because I was away for 4 days the previous week and have a day job and saw a majority of the continuing ed in California.  They had some great topics about oil analysis, freight doors, dumbwaiters and platform lifts, Elevator World gave the State of the Elevator Industry address among other things.  During the evening they had an event at the Untitled Super Club which was a unique experience.  During the dinner I got to talk to a number of consultants and suppliers about some interesting industry topics.

Thursday was more education and vendor visits.

I had two very long days 6am to getting home at 10pm but this was a very cool event that I’m glad I got to be a part of.  I saw familiar faces and met some new ones.  We are all a part of such a niche industry so it is great seeing people who share the passion as much as I do.  While anyone can call themselves an Elevator Consultant, when you meet some of the really good ones, it is very impressive on their breadth of knowledge and experience.   

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