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  • Andy Koontz

Improving Elevator Maintenance Contracts

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Over the years, elevator contractors and their customers have been searching for ways to express how much time and energy the contractor would devote to servicing their customers’ vertical transportation devices.

“Regularly and systematically” was long the Contractors’ preferred description, because they did not want to commit to, and more importantly, be held accountable for any particular quantity of hours per month, lest the customer demand a refund if those hours were not met. This gave the Contractor ultimate flexibility as to when they performed service and how many hours they spent. Contractors wanted a vague commitment because they may not have really known how much time would be required, and with what frequency, to comply with their contractual obligations.

The resulting perceived insufficiency of preventive maintenance resulted in Consultants specifying a prescribed number of hours per month Contractors would have to devote to preventive maintenance. Benchmarks such as 4 hours for a gearless elevator, 2 hours for a geared unit, and 1 hour for a hydraulic became the standard. Escalators were in the 4 hour per month range. Contractors would price their contracts accordingly and if the units ran reliably, the specified hours were seldom verified.

If units became troublesome, monthly maintenance hours would get close scrutiny. Time tickets would be pulled, descriptions of work (to the extent that there was a description of work) would be analyzed and compared against the components that were causing malfunctions. Often third-party independent consultants would be engaged to analyze tickets, separate maintenance from trouble calls and repairs; meetings would be held, and Contractors would agree to increase their preventive maintenance efforts. And the cycle would repeat.

We believe maintenance hours are not a particularly useful metric or standard against which maintenance quality and efficacy should be judged. New technology and tools now exist that can improve our ability to target our oversight activities and maximize reliability and performance. Rather than specify, for example, that 8 hours of maintenance must be done on a particular elevator system per month, we would rather state that, in a given month, all the doors should be cleaned, lubricated and adjusted. That is a tangible, auditable, and effective requirement that benefits all parties. Owners get more reliable systems, and Contractors can allocate scarce resources more efficiently.

Service activities like door maintenance should be formulated and planned with the Contractor. Working with a qualified consultant, task frequency and durations can be established well in advance and performed on dates and at times that minimize disruption to the building. As conditions warrant, data-driven adjustments can be made. The plan should reside a software application that is visible to, and preferably owned by the customer. At any time, the client should be able to review service activity status on the vertical transportation portfolio. Completed, scheduled, and missed activities should all be easily viewed by the owner’s representatives.

With the right software application combined with sensors attached to the elevator, building owners and their representatives can validate that the scheduled work was done, that units are running reliably, and that they are performing as designed. Building owners and tenants will appreciate properly functioning elevators, and Contractors will spend less time chasing trouble calls and dealing with frustrated clients. We believe a system of targeted service activities, transparent to customers and contractors, results in the best value for both building owners and their service providers.

Contact us for more information.

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