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Solucore Inc. - A Professional Elevator and Escalator Consulting Firm
Solucore Inc. - A Professional Elevator and Escalator Consulting Firm


Elevator Contractors React To Cost Pressures
Web-based Vigilance Supports Regulatory Compliance

Elevator maintenance programs should not be left solely to a contractor’s discretion. Regulators in Canada and elsewhere in North America stress that the onus rests with the owners of elevating devices to ensure that they are properly maintained. Internet-based elevator maintenance monitoring (IBEMM) is a tool to help building owners and managers fulfill that obligation, while improving communications between contractors and their clients.

Elevator design and engineering have evolved significantly since the 1970s and relative maintenance costs have decreased in the same period. Work that once commanded $900 to $1,200 per gearless elevator now is more in the range of $500 to $800.

As a result, it’s often not cost-effective for contractors to perform maintenance work in situations where many of the elevators in the building are older, not in good working condition or due for refurbishment. It may actually make more economic sense to lose a contract than to cover the costs of retaining such a client.

These trends suggest the elevator/escalator maintenance practice is also evolving. IBEMM provides the means for owners to take more control, likely with the advice of a consultant.

In future, owners might pay directly for the parts and materials now typically covered in a maintenance contract and rely on elevator contractors to make repair recommendations and provide skilled labour. Such so-called oil-and-grease contracts are already the norm for small jobs in which the elevator contractors inspect the elevating device and then submit a proposal to the owner if parts are required.

The future business model could see elevator contractors offering life cycle replacement plans, and replacement of components based on usage. Disposable parts – elevator motors, components and boards – are likely to be introduced in the near future, thus further reducing the labour-intensive maintenance on antiquated systems.

In the interim, many contractors now offer Internet-based elevator maintenance monitoring to provide their clients with a maintenance management tool. It allows owners of elevating equipment to monitor service requests, get a status of the work being performed, schedule maintenance procedures and/or propose upgrades. They can log into the website using a secure password and view the maintenance history of any of their elevating devices.

The web-based system can be used to issue work orders and schedule major repairs, and will provide a tracking system to indicate if scheduled repair was completed. It also provides a tally of the amount of time spent on any job – information that can be used to analyze costs and assess the accuracy of contractors’ estimates.

IBEMM eliminates the legwork of going to every machine room to inspect the logbook. Owners can instead comply with their mandated responsibility to ensure that equipment is property maintained from any location where they have on-line access.

IBEMM can amalgamate and coordinate all required data: consultants’ reports; government inspectors’ reports; capital upgrade programs; simple repair quotes; compliance reports; callback reports, as well as other types of information related to the quality of maintenance and reliability of the elevating devices.

Lack of information makes owners more vulnerable to bad decisions and/or surprise breakdowns and tenant dissatisfaction. Accessible information coupled with regular monitoring gives owners a fuller understanding of performance issues – so they won’t be pressured into unwarranted modernizations of equipment that is still functioning soundly or, conversely, be unaware of callback and service trends that could indicate big-ticket problems.

Published in Published in Canadian Property Management Magazine August 2010

by Ray Eleid, P.Eng. - Back to list

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