How much attention do you pay to your elevators and escalators? They may run smoothly now, but if they don’t receive the right maintenance from the right technician, it could seriously impact the equipment’s lifetime and result in extra service calls.
Do you recognize any of these issues in your own facility?
1) Automatically Accepting the Lowest Bid
The lowest price may save you money upfront, but in the long run, it could end up costing you more, explains Andy Kohl, Elevator Consultant for The Elevator Consultants. When you request bids for maintenance technicians, make sure you’re getting someone who is experienced with your particular equipment.
“One of the big issues we see is going with the lowest price and not matching the equipment with the proper mechanic,” Kohl says. “A lot of facilities managers are very savvy and make all the right decisions, but then the procurement department can force them to take a lower bid: ‘Here’s your budget and here’s who you’re going with.’ That happens a lot. It can help to bring in a consultant to get everyone on the same page.”
2) Boilerplate Language in Contracts
Contracts require negotiation, Kohl explains. Don’t just accept the standard language – the terms and conditions are likely not favorable to you. Make sure the contract you sign affords you protection and lays out specifics regarding maintenance schedules and time on site for maintenance providers.
“Sometimes FMs sign periodic maintenance agreements. I explain to customers that you go to your doctor ‘periodically’ and that means once a year. You don’t want periodic maintenance on your elevators,” Kohl says. “Then they have no accountability for trying to get the elevator company there other than when things break. That affects the projected lifecycle of your elevators.”
3) Unfavorable Response Time Specifications
Does your contract specify how quickly a service provider has to respond if someone is trapped in an elevator? “Some contracts say you have to pay the vendor to get people out,” Kohl says. “That’s crazy, but it happens. Response times are very important.”
Your specification for response time should be realistic depending on your building’s needs. Typically, this ranges from half an hour to two hours, Kohl explains.
“Some contracts we see allow four to six hours for a response. Why would you accept that?” Kohl says. “Don’t let the contract be vague on entrapment – we recommend no longer than a half hour. How long do you want to be stuck in an elevator? Our goal is to get the person out of the elevator before the fire department is called, because the fire department will break the doors to get them out and that adds billable repairs, which are very expensive. However, if your contract specifies a response time of half an hour and you don’t show up on time, and the fire department breaks the door after an hour, the vendor has to pay for that – but it has to be in the contract.”
4) Deferred Maintenance
Putting off needed maintenance does considerable damage to your elevator, but deferring it is common in the name of saving money in the short term despite higher long-term costs, Kohl says.
“If you don’t add oil to your car or fix things that are broken until a light comes on instead of doing proactive maintenance, you know you’re shortening the life of your car,” Kohl adds. “With vertical transportation, proactive tasks are major things that we see not getting done on a regular basis unless the client is willing to a) pay for it and b) have a specification in their contract that requires the vendor to do it.”
Janelle Penny firstname.lastname@example.org is senior editor of BUILDINGS.