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Solucore Inc. | A Professional Elevator and Escalator Consulting Firm

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Escalator Modernization – What you need to know

If you are planning to replace your escalators, there are two possible options to replace them:
Option 1 – Remove and replace (the traditional way of doing things) and it involves the full replacement of the escalator unit; and
Option 2 – In truss replacement where the pan remains, but a new escalator is installed. Just to be clear, this means a new escalator in everyway. The only thing that remains of the old unit is the steel envelop that the old escalator sat in.

Option 1: Full Replacement of Escalator

The advantages of this approach are:

  1. The price of the escalators is the most competitive. All escalator contractors can potentially bid on the job and submit pricing.
  2. The cost of the escalator replacement is also very attractive provided that owner work is not required or is very limited due to open access or due to possible direct crane access. This would be true in malls, airports or open atriums near street access.
  3. Demotion can be done by any contractor once the escalator is decommissioned and that can be done at any time of the day and the cost can be controlled because the elevator contractor is not required to replace the unit. A salvage company can be hired, a demolition contractor with experience in removing escalators can be hired or a general contractor can be hired.
  4. The escalators are new in every aspect including the pan. You retain nothing from the old system including all steel. This has some advantages like:
    - You can reposition the escalator few inches left or right.
    - You can move the escalator forward or backway and to the side.
    - You can adjust the installation to suit the requirements of the site provided that the structural components are still suitable for the weight.
    - You can crisscross the escalators or keep them the way they are. You have the freedom to do these adjustments at will.
  5. The installation/assembly time is also fast (anywhere from few days for a fully assembled unit to two weeks). The escalators can be assembled off site and then dropped into position by crane fully assembled. In the case of an existing building where there is no crane access, the escalators can be rolled into position and installed. The handrails would be needed for assembly only. We can also ship the escalator in two pieces and then assembled on site while being dropped into position.

The disadvantages of this approach are:

  1. The cladding around the escalators needs to be removed (drywall, sprinklers, etc…). After the installation this needs to be replaced as well. So, you are paying to remove something you need to reinstall after the escalator is replaced. In some situation where heavy tiling is installed, this can be significantly expensive.
  2. The floor tiles will be damaged during this work and the repairs will be needed.
  3. Demolition or remove and replace doorways, windows, and other structures in the path of the escalator travel from the flatbed truck to the escalator pit.
  4. Hoisting points are needed to assist in installing the escalators. Which means that we would need structural reviews, patching work, etc… in some cases, the owner would be required to secure and provide hoisting points.
  5. Bracing the structure below the escalator pathway so that the floor can support upwards of 10,000kgs. This work would have to be priced and included in the owner’s cost.
  6. Adjustment to the structural elements to support a longer escalator (the bottom pit would need to be changed at times to allow for longer pits due to two flat steps required under the new code).

In summary, a full replacement costs less and takes less time to complete for the escalator contractor but costs more to rebuild things and takes time to complete the owner work depending on the situation.

Option 2: In-Truss Replacement

The advantages of this approach are:

  1. The escalator components are brought in section by section. So, no need for major demolition or major disruption of the space. The escalators can be modernized one at a time if there is enough clearance, you can even modernize one escalator while operating the adjacent escalator provided that there is more than 4” clearance between the handrail of the running escalator and the barricade. A barricade can be installed on the unit under construction which would allow the escalator contractor to work invisibly.
  2. There is no need to remove the drywall or other cladding around the escalator. The escalator contractor would remove the escalator handrail, steps, flooring and decks and install new components.
  3. No need for bracing or underpinning of floors as the material is shipped can be handled by two-person crew.
  4. You can install a new escalator in the tightest of spaces even if the space is not accommodating for heavy material transfer and use of forklifts.
  5. No concern with flooring damage, removal of door entrances or windows. The material can be carried in sections and on pallet jacks.

The disadvantages of this approach are:

  1. The price is high. We typically see pricing that is about 3 to 4 times the price of an escalator.
  2. The escalator company would typically need to do the dismantling.
  3. The existing escalator might not be large enough to accommodate the new install. There are many escalators that cannot be converted and the process to finding this out is long (may take up to two weeks).
  4. The schedule is long. The elevator contractor needs 14 to 18 weeks an escalator from start to finish versus the two-week typical we get from an assembled two-piece unit.
  5. Noisy work is expected when you are putting heavy components together. If the work is carried out during the regular working hours, we can expect some noises to become problematic.
  6. The work requires ample working space to bring in chains, motors, and drop them into the working space. At times, the barricades might become a problem and may need to come down to facilitate certain type of work.
  7. There could be delays if the mechanics working on the assembly are not too familiar with the work and that could cause delays and alignment/adjustment issues.

In summary, in-truss escalator replacement is a great option if you have to replace an escalator, but you don’t want to demolish or renovate the space you have. It does take longer to do the work and cost much more to complete, but it saves you on owner work and it does make budgeting much easier because most of the cost will be to the escalator contractor with minor electrical work to reconnect the three phase power, 110 volts for receptacle and pit lighting as well as the smokes in the top and bottom of the pit.

by Ray Eleid in Modernization - Back to Posts




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