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What Facility Managers Should Know About Their Elevators




December 22, 2014 - Elevators

To do a proper evaluation of elevator maintenance work, the facility manager must understand the specific elevators installed and how they operate.

To start with, the elevator manufacturer and date of installation "provide a baseline for everything," says Bryan Hines, a vice president with Lerch Bates and Associates. That's because the maintenance required often varies with the age of the elevator and the amount and type of use it gets. It's critical that the elevator contractor know the type of equipment you're using.

In addition, you want to know how the elevator operates, Hines notes. For instance, are all the doors opening and closing smoothly? Are cabs riding at about the same speed? If not, it's likely that some need adjustment, he adds.

The lights and bells also should function as intended. This is key both for occupants' safety and to ensure compliance with applicable codes. The American with Disabilities Act, for instance, requires audible signals for car direction: one gong for an elevator going up, and two for an elevator headed down.

The facility manager also should regularly visit the machinery room to check conditions, says Albert Gallo, president of Sierra Consulting Group.

Once a mechanic is on site, what should happen? Andy Kohl, consultant with The Elevator Consultants, recommends a dual sign-in procedure. That is, rather than the elevator contractor simply showing up, doing the work, and leaving, a facility professional meets him or her, learns the purpose of the visit, and is notified when the work is completed. This process increases the chances that the visit will accomplish its objectives. It also lets everyone know whether the contractor is engaged in preventive or "call-back" maintenance, which can result from a lack of proper maintenance in the first place.

While the exact list of tasks can vary with the condition and type of elevator, "every piece should be checked, lubricated, and examined," Kohl says.

At least monthly, the mechanics should inspect the hoist ropes and machines driving the elevator, says Robert Cuzzi, executive vice president and principal with the consulting firm Van Deusen & Associates. They should be lubricated and operating properly. All of this takes time. When drawing up contracts, Gallo typically requires at least two hours of maintenance per elevator, per month. That number can jump if the elevator is older and has more moving parts.

A competent mechanic also will order replacement parts well before a particular piece of equipment has reached the end of its serviceable life, Hines says. That way, the new part can be installed when it's least disruptive.

The mechanic also should conduct the required tests each month or annually.

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