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April 1, 2015 -
Since periodic maintenance and inspections are essential to keeping elevators running safely and reliably, how do you look for a good elevator contractor?
When it comes to that issue, Martin Culp, elevator supervisor, department of operations and maintenance-contracts, University of Maryland, has some detailed requirements for what constitutes an acceptable contractor. Culp, who is also the board of directors' president of Elevator U, an association of elevator professionals at universities, says, "We have a good variety of equipment, so we require a certain number of years in the trade," and diversity of equipment worked on. "There's no licensing requirement since Maryland is just now starting to write the licensing requirements for elevator mechanics."
There are some tasks that don't need a trained technician — changing light bulbs, for example — but anything beyond the very basics requires a good technician, says Ron Burton, codes consultant, BOMA.
"For the most part, building managers will try to leave this to someone who does this all the time rather than trying to do it themselves or train their people to do it," Burton says. "If you're going to have someone work on the elevator mechanics — the doors, how the elevator works itself — yes, you need somebody who's certified and knows what they're doing."
There are a few things you can look for to help ensure you're getting a qualified contractor, says Phil Reid, chairman, codes and standards committee, National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC). The first is participation in the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), which is a co-op between the manufacturers and the International Union of Elevator Contractors. Another education-based option is participation in the NAEC's Certified Elevator Technician (CET) program. There are also some metrics that can be looked at, such as average units per mechanic, response time, and preventative maintenance time assigned.
Knowing that you're hiring contractors to work on a machine they're familiar with is also critical. "You don't want someone that's used to doing three-stop hydraulic elevators in churches suddenly coming in and doing the inspections and maintenance on your 50-story high rise office building," says Brian Black, codes consultant, National Elevator Industry Inc. (NEII).
Elevators require a big investment, both in initial expense and ongoing maintenance. By paying close attention to standards and the qualifications of technicians, facility managers can ensure that they stay reliable — and more important, safe — for a long time.