Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff
Most occupants never think much about elevator controls. But as the elevator control system ages, the problems can be obvious: Long wait times for building occupants and lines in the elevator lobby during peak travel times.
To determine whether elevator controls are in need of attention, check wait times and elevator speed on a regular basis. Time how long it takes to go from the bottom floor to the top floor. Measure the time spent waiting for an elevator during peak and off-peak periods. Record the times and compare them to a baseline for the elevator, or to the manufacturer’s specifications for that type of application.
Long wait times and slow performance may be caused by a malfunction as simple as a defective relay, or problems may be caused by the age and overall condition of the elevator. While repairs can improve performance in some cases, elevators that use old mechanical relay controls may simply need a new control system. Mechanical relay-based controls are slow by today’s standards, and little can be done to improve their performance. Upgrading to new microprocessor-based controls reduces average wait time by 50 percent. When coupled with a new drive system, the speed of the elevator can be increased by an average of 40 percent.
Replacing the relay-based controls, although costly, will at some point become a necessity. Microprocessor control systems for elevators became the standard for new construction and system modernization nearly 20 years ago. Parts for older relay-based controls are getting harder to find.
Equally difficult is finding personnel who understand and can service these types of elevator controls. Fewer and fewer elevator manufacturers and service companies support the older systems. As a result, the maintenance cost and downtime is increasing because it is difficult to obtain replacement parts.
If system performance is already a problem, it is far better for facility executives to plan for replacement now rather than have their hand forced some time in the future.
Avoiding Elevator Breakdowns by James Piper