The technology of elevator


As a purely practical matter, most elevator systems old enough to warrant controls upgrades probably also warrant complete modernization; the improvements would boost reliability and performance.

When manufacturers sell facility executives new technology, much of the sales efforts center upon increased savings. Comprehensive return-on-investment calculations are performed, and most savvy facility executives know how to quantify the savings that are recouped with technology upgrades.

Often, those costs can only be defined on a case-by-case basis. When a Class A skyscraper has an elevator out of service, the monetary loss of that downtime is significantly different than when a two-story department store has a malfunctioning escalator.

Even though the tightening economy is forcing many facility executives to rein in costs, keeping elevators running properly is often a high priority. Doing so requires a comprehensive preventive maintenance program.

Frequent service calls for the same elevator typically is a signal of deeper problems that should be raised with the service company. Similarly, wait times that are growing longer will warrant an investigation. The reason may be as simple as a large tenant that has changed its work hours, affecting traffic flow in the building. Or the change may result from a problem with the elevator controls.

While monitoring the elevators’ performance is critical, proper maintenance usually requires professional assistance. Experts say the focus should be on preventive, rather than call-back, maintenance. Preventive maintenance consists of scheduled appointments during which elevator technicians can check whether the elevator is running as it should be. Call-back maintenance, as its name implies, occurs when the building engineer or facility executive calls the elevator company because an elevator isn’t working properly. The technicians focus on investigating and resolving the immediate problem.

Often, it makes sense to separate service calls into those that are controllable and have a technical cause, and those that are uncontrollable from an elevator maintenance perspective. This second group includes calls prompted by inappropriate use of the elevator, such as a call to repair a door that’s knocked off track due to a tenant’s carelessness. The goal for the Fuji Lift company is to reduce the rate of controllable outages to the current industry benchmark of about one call per quarter.

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