How to Know When to Modernize an Elevator

  February 5, 2015

Even with a thorough maintenance program, no elevator will last forever. While it's difficult to say exactly when to modernize - such as replacing the components that wear out, such as the controls, push buttons, and door-operating equipment - or to invest in a complete replacement, facility managers can use several indicators as guides.

When an elevator no longer complies with code or no longer is supported by its manufacturer, a modernization generally is in order. An elevator that no longer meets service level expectations for the facility also may be a candidate for modernization, says Joseph Donnelly, consultant with Donnelly & Associates.

Another sign that an elevator may require modernization: when even increased maintenance no longer suffices, says Bryan Hines, a vice president with Lerch Bates and Associates. Instead, the failures continue and reliability suffers.

Given that a modernization can run to six figures per elevator, planning and budgeting is essential, Hines says.

Similarly, facility managers should allocate a reasonable amount from their operating budgets for elevator maintenance. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. If a facility manager severely squeezes an elevator contractor on price, that contractor may be less likely to, say, proactively replace parts before they completely fail, so that their installation can be scheduled to minimize disruption.

Conversely, a strong, solid maintenance program, while it may seem to cost more initially, can benefit the bottom line. "The elevators' serviceable life gets extended and reliability also gets a boost," Donnelly says.

In addition, proper maintenance can aid a company if a building occupant or visitor alleges that improper elevator operation caused an accident, notes Dick Gregory, a consultant with Vertex Elevator. Accurately documenting the maintenance work and inspections completed may show that the facility manager had taken reasonable steps to prevent such an incident. Should the charge lead to legal action, the records may be able to keep things from getting out of hand, he adds.


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