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Heavy Maintenance Load: U.S. Has 900,000 Elevators




Today's tip relates to the more than 900,000 elevators that operate across the United States, according to the Building Transportation Profile 2010. Together, they require at least 21.6 million hours of elevator maintenance annually, assuming (as many industry experts do) a minimum of two hours of maintenance per elevator, per month.

Many facility managers contract with outside elevator maintenance firms and, though most of these companies employ qualified individuals who want to do a good job, experts say they’ve seen varying levels of service quality. To ensure that their elevators operate reliably and safely, facility managers should be able to accurately assess the maintenance programs being carried out on their equipment. Even if a facility manager hires an elevator contractor to perform preventive maintenance, he or she should observe and check the work performed. "A second set of eyes is always helpful," says Albert Gallo, president of Sierra Consulting Group.

It's critical that maintenance be carried out regularly and effectively. Safety, of course, is the primary consideration. While incidents of catastrophic accidents are — fortunately — low, haphazard general maintenance can lead to events like trip-and-falls if elevator doors no longer open level with the floor, says Andy Kohl, consultant with The Elevator Consultants.

Consistent maintenance also contributes to the reliability and lifespan of the equipment. "When an elevator is properly maintained from day one, you have a minimum amount of problems," says Robert Cuzzi, executive vice president and principal with the consulting firm Van Deusen & Associates.

Despite the importance of quality elevator upkeep, this can be one function where facility managers don't know as much as they could. "Building owners and managers say elevators are the one item in the building that is a black hole," Kohl says.

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