The lift industry famously takes health and safety very seriously, which explains why lifts are the unheralded but undoubtably safest form of mechanical transportation. Best practice and the key to perfecting lift maintenance are planned regular servicing to maintain safety standards, prolong the life of elevators and reduce downtime.
Keep Up with Regulations
Lift rules and regulations are continually evolving to improve the lift industry and its maintenance practices. The strict but effective guidelines allow facilities managers to maintain safe lift systems across the U.K., adhering to not only current protocol, but also new and developing standards. Two new pieces of legislation, EN 81–20 and 81–50, that will become effective in September 2017, will drastically increase elevator safety for passengers and service personnel. Lifts installed after this time will require features such as improved strength and durability of car walls, roofs and doors, higher requirements for fire resistance of car interiors and mandatory elevator control panels complete with a “Stop” button in the pit. The new standards will further uphold the elevator’s renowned reputation for excellent safety practices.
It is important that a facilities manager is able to rely on the lift service provider and trust it implicitly.
As with nearly every aspect of facilities management, one of the most important steps to take in keeping elevators in top condition is to inspect them regularly. Not many people realize that lift maintenance is not mandatory; the only compulsory practice is that an insurance inspector should review a lift system once every six months so the owners are covered legally. This is the bare minimum of work that should be undertaken, but recommended practice is to have a lift system serviced every month. Neglected lifts can result in long delays while waiting for repairs, lead to premature aging, create huge financial expense and, worse still, become a danger to both passengers and service personnel.
Facilities managers should always have a planned preventative maintenance schedule in place with their chosen lift service provider. This takes into account issues such as elevator-system peak times, impossible dates for servicing and so on. A mobilization plan should also be crafted to cover any risk assessments, method statements and health and safety procedures in relation to lift maintenance.
The age of a lift system and size of the building are both factors that need to be taken into consideration when planning maintenance, as older systems with more floors to cover may require a more thorough service, which will take more time. Also, the amount of footfall a lift endures may mean the system wears faster, so there will need to be a discussion about the level of predicted lift use with the service provider. It is important that a facilities manager is able to rely on the lift service provider and trust it implicitly. A strong partnership should be made during the planning stage to ensure the contractor will deliver excellent ongoing service and support.
Technological advancements in the lift industry are vastly improving health and safety for both passengers and engineers. Facilities managers should embrace fast-changing trends to take advantage of the many benefits. Modernizing a lift system will result in a faster lift with a smoother ride, reduce overall costs and make a lift more reliable and less prone to breakdowns.
New thermal-imaging technology, for example, provides engineers with the ability to locate, troubleshoot and fix impending issues to prevent costly shutdowns. Furthermore, there are several technological developments that can drastically reduce a lift system’s energy consumption. It is vital that service providers notify clients of changing environmental legislation and offer advice on product innovation and environmentally efficient technologies during the term of their contract.
For lift maintenance specifically, customer-management portals (new online tools growing in popularity with many elevator servicing companies) offer a bespoke and reliable service, which both reduces downtime and improves communication between clients and servicers. Online systems deliver clients detailed lift-portfolio information, including real-time updates, electronic exchange of orders and proactive maintenance reporting. The booking of engineers for maintenance, viewing of arrival times and specific work undertaken is now easily accessible, allowing facilities managers to plan lift maintenance well in advance and alert people using the lifts.
New thermal-imaging technology provides engineers with the ability to locate, troubleshoot and fix impending issues to prevent costly shutdowns.
It goes without saying that, despite a facilities manager’s best efforts, accidents can still occasionally happen. For passengers, a common hazard is being struck by closing lift doors, and, although it is essential to ensure your lift system’s detection system is updated, this type of accident is largely the result of user error — for instance, a passenger may attempt to run for a lift and stick his or her hand or arm between the doors to prevent them from closing. An early education for lift passengers, by providing visible signs and aids detailing lift best practices, is a facilities manager’s best hope for the prevention of accidents such as this.
John Roberts is service director at Apex Lifts, one of the largest independent lift manufacturing and servicing companies in London, which holds a royal warrant.