The Ups and Downs of Elevator Maintenance

You know that in order to keep your elevator running smoothly, you have to have a solid maintenance contract with a reliable company. This involves making sure you choose the right plan. The right plan should balance a quality of service with a price you can afford. Most service companies offer a range of plans. These plans vary in both the types of service provided and the cost.

 

Basic Plans

 

In general, the least expensive plan will give you regular inspections where issues will be reported. Sometimes these plans also include general maintenance, like lubrication. Moving up a step, the next type of plan is generally called an on-demand plan. This offers contracted labor rates. It is important to note that in these two plans, the cost of any parts is not included. So, that is something worth considering because it would be an extra cost above and beyond what you are already paying for the basic maintenance contract.

 

Advanced Plans

 

More involved plans will offer much more coverage. One option is a full-service maintenance plan. This type of plan includes preventative measures. If there is a repair that needs made, the plan also covers the labor and parts. Regular routine service is done and careful documentation is maintained by the service company. This can take a lot of responsibility off the shoulders of building management. Another option is an all-inclusive plan. This is going to cost the most, but is rather simple is design. You pay one monthly fee and the service company basically manages everything with the elevator.

 

Considerations

 

It is essential when choosing a maintenance plan that building management makes sure to consider:

 

  • Age
  • Amount of use
  • Past issues
  • Average repair costs

 

When it comes to securing a service plan for your building’s elevator, you have to choose carefully. While cost is important, you also need to make sure the plan coverage is the best for your needs. To learn more about the best value is service plans, give our experts at SunCoast Elevator a call at (305) 690-0955.

Raise and fall of business indicators. Career lift concept.

 

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Storm Preparation- Staying Safe!

In light of the storm, we want to highlight the below building safety points to keep in mind during any impending inclement weather event. Having these measures in place will help keep your building, and more importantly your occupants, safe.

Safety Measures

The more you can do to prepare for the unforeseeable, the better off your residents and building will be during an urgent situation. Emergency preparations to have in place include:

  • Emergency exit lights and diagrams on walls
  • Emergency phone numbers listed inside elevator cabs
  • Inspections of ventilation openings, windows and doors for possible rain leakage
  • Weatherproofing around any leaks, doors, openings and exposed electrical panels
  • Ensure backup power in case of electrical outages- this includes lights, emergency call systems and backup return system
  • Have a clear emergency plan in place- building evacuation routes, designated safe spots and clear staff roles

Storm Preparation

If a storm is near, there are steps that should be taken immediately to prevent damage to elevator equipment.

  • Close all vents and openings at the top of the hoistway to prevent water from entering the elevator shaft
  • Barricade the machine room
  • Ensure all occupants have safely evacuated before elevators are out of commission
  • Avoid entrapment- do not count on the use of elevators once the storm hits.

 

Broken elevator concept with construction barrier and blank sign

 

“If buildings have elevators that are enclosed, managers should run each car to the center of the building, or to the top floor for two-story buildings,” says Alex McFarlane, director of repair. “Elevators exposed to the outdoors should always be run to the floor below the top. After cars are parked appropriately, shut the elevator down with the keyed switch and close the doors to prevent unauthorized personnel from using the equipment. In addition, place the mainline disconnect in the ‘off’ position to completely remove power from the elevator.”

Regrouping after the Storm

Following the weather event, a careful inspection of the entire system should be performed.

  • Do a walk through with a maintenance supervisor and elevator professional
  • Restoring power to wet electrical panels can be a dangerous mistake
  • Run the system to make sure everything is back up and running without a glitch

Ensure everyone is safe and that the building has been repaired as needed to prevent safety hazards.

SunCoast Elevator wishes everyone the best as we wait out Hurricane Matthew together. Please stay safe!

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Is your Elevator Causing Energy Expenses to Skyrocket?

When it comes to elevators, proactive property managers understand that inspections should be folded into regular equipment updates and repair cycles, in order to uncover hidden issues. By upgrading the right parts of the system and catching issues early, breakdowns and costly overhauls can be prevented.

 

hand press 5 floor in elevator

Power Consumption in Older Elevators

Problem: Sensitive computer equipment, like the systems that control dispatch, are prone to breakdown or power supply outages. Older elevator motors are notorious for causing havoc. This is because the generator sets on older elevator systems tend to produce harmonic distortions, which in turn cause the computers to glitch.

Solution: Monitoring for these harmonic problems and replacing equipment that is creating them can prevent the computers from completely going down. It is also a great way to deal with slow operations caused by the lower power factor of older systems.

Heat Management

Problem: Electrical traction systems tend to have their equipment housed on the roof of the building. Ventilation is handled through louvers mounted near the roof. This leads to heat issues, as the air is circulating with hot rooftop air. The equipment room can often go above 100 degrees. This in turn leads to heat related breakdowns, which cause many property managers to turn to short-term solutions like opening the access door to the equipment room. The problem is that these solutions only invite in humidity and dirt.

Solution: A much better solution is to install a cooling system for the room, to keep equipment operating at a more ideal temperature.

Addressing the Problems

Making changes to control heat, as well as power quality and consumption, is a great way to achieve several goals that make your facilities operate more smoothly, including:

  • Decreasing energy expenses
  • Lengthening equipment lifespans and putting off more costly maintenance and replacement costs
  • Providing faster service to everyone in the building

If it’s time to upgrade your elevators and knock out energy problems, contact SunCoast at 305-690-0955 to schedule a consultation.

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Common Elevator Truths & Myths- Infographic

Common Elevator

Click to view enlarged infographic

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Making Sure Your Elevator is Up to Code

Compliance with regulations is important for any facility manager, because maintaining code compliance means avoiding possible enforcement actions and generally making the building more accessible and safe. When it comes to elevator maintenance, this is even more important, because elevators represent the only mode of access to upper floors for many people with disabilities. Maintaining facilities that are kept to code is essential, and the rules and codes governing the elevator’s construction and operation come from a variety of sources.

For the most part, if you are following a regular plan for equipment overhauls, the basic safety and upkeep requirements are not hard to master. Ensuring accessibility for disabled people and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, on the other hand, can be challenging.

 

Broken elevator concept with construction barrier and blank sign

 

Why ADA Guidelines Are Difficult

There are a few reasons why ensuring compliance with ADA regulations proves to be difficult. First and foremost, there is the fact that accessibility systems and innovations happen regularly, and staying abreast of the newest features can be expensive. If a building only invests in upgrades when new guidelines are codified, then the problem is complicated by the fact that there is no central enforcement for accessibility within the implementation of the Americans With Disabilities Act itself. This creates a situation where there is a regulation requiring access be provided and a duty on the part of the facility’s management to provide access, but little oversight to aid with or guide implementation.

How to Make Sure Your Elevator is Up to Code

The current best practices for accessibility can include the following features:

  • Call and floor buttons mounted at reachable heights (42 inches)
  • Buttons that are a minimum of 0.75 inches in diameter
  • Braille plates next to buttons and at entrances
  • Emergency call buttons mounted at the bottom of the bank of buttons, no more than 35 inches from the floor
  • Two-way communication for emergencies that Deaf and Blind people can navigate
  • Chimes and verbal announcements for each floor
  • A cab large enough for a wheelchair to turn around in.

There are newer features that go beyond these minimums for those looking to make an investment in staying ahead of the accessibility curve, too. To achieve basic compliance, though, these items need to be met. If your elevators are currently out of code, scheduling your upgrades during a regular maintenance cycle minimizes your downtime. SunCoast‘s experts can help. Call us at (305) 690-0955.

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Improving Your Elevator’s ROI with Highly Involved Staff

SunCoast 8.24

When it comes to getting the most out of your investment properties, the property itself is only really half of the equation. The other half is your management and maintenance staffing, and how well that staff is able to stay on top of emerging issues that affect your bottom line. At the core is your property manager, who is theoretically charged with knowing about and seeing to the total flow of tenants, maintenance requests, and move-ins and –outs. This means that having a properly trained, knowledgeable manager is the key to having a profitable property. This is especially applicable when it comes to your elevator. Property manager discretion is the turning point of your business, so it is important to make sure yours understands why and how to keep up with maintenance issues.

Rate of Involvement vs. Return on Investment

The general rule of thumb in the industry is that your rate of involvement with the elevator system is going to mirror the return on investment that your property sees from it. That means you need to not only keep up with service requests, but also with patterns of them. Staying alert to rising injury rates, increased complaints about speed, or frequent total system malfunctions is the best way to monitor whether or not your elevator is reaching the end of its functional life. That means:

  • Drafting a comprehensive modernization plan for the end of the system’s life
  • Monitoring the condition of the parts and the number of repairs to estimate its condition and progress toward replacement
  • Ensuring as much up time as possible
  • Keeping elevators responsive

Twenty Years Out

The general rule of thumb for elevator replacement is twenty years, both because of the wear on components and also because of changes in the technology. Betting on this timeline is a great way to structure your savings so that you are ready to invest when the time comes, but keep in mind that not all systems are equal. When it comes to the elevator, property manager candidates need to monitor their service to ensure that extra wear and tear is not coming from unexpected directions, like weight overloading. That is the only way to know if you are headed for an early replacement.

Prevention for Increased Elevator Lifespan

The other reason why you need to be able to count on an involved property manager is because getting the most out of your elevator’s lifespan means doing the day to day maintenance needed to keep it in good shape. That means more than just making the service calls and tracking repair patterns. It means keeping the elevators clean and replacing individual system components like light bulbs on time. When you need service or repair, Suncoast Elevator Company has the experienced techs you need for your commercial systems.

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How an Elevator Works

In many cities, most commercial properties are large enough to have at least one elevator. In fact, for multi-story buildings, they have become a necessity if a company is to maintain compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other regulatory obligations. Still, despite the fact that the elevator system has become a ubiquitous method of short-range transportation, few people really understand how they work.

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The Basics

As mechanical devices, elevators are simple enough, and many people understand their basic motions from having constructed models. Cars are usually suspended, with a pulley system to raise and lower them. In single-elevator systems, this is often the bulk of the design, because single-elevator systems only have one car to dispatch and don’t have a lot of choices to make before sending it to a new request.

Advanced Systems

Once you move into an elevator system that manages multiple cars, things get more complex. At that level, a lot of the engineering and design happens on the software side, because the computer that manages the cars and their destinations needs to weigh the options to deduce the best pattern of pickups and drop-offs to match requests from various floors. That means:

• Selecting which elevator car to dispatch
• Deciding on the balance between wait time and trip time
• Monitoring floor selections and moving the car to keep pace
• Deciding when to redirect cars as traffic changes

Putting the Hardware and Software Together

What this means, in practical terms, is that most of your elevator system maintenance issues will involve both the hardware and the software involved in running your elevators. This is true even when the issue seems to be entirely software, because if the software is not functioning correctly the hardware will not get the signals it needs to behave properly. Some of these issues can be pre-empted with a simple system reset, but at other times it will likely take an informed and trained technician to understand the ways that your system is experiencing trouble.

Conclusion

The mechanics of your elevator system are simple, but understanding how the computer in control has to weigh options for each trip and respond to new requests in real time means understanding the best way to configure your system. Whether your elevators are set to simply provide the fastest possible service or they use a custom algorithm that balances multiple factors, they are sophisticated combinations of computer and hardware engineering. When you need elevator service, the Suncoast Elevator Company has service personnel with the expertise to repair and maintain commercial elevator systems for your business. Reach us at 305-690-0955 for more information.

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Updating Your Elevator System for Energy Efficiency

Modern Elevator Hall Interior

Implementing a new elevator system can be costly, but like many upgrades it can actually save building owners a great deal of money over time. Elevators represent up to 7% of a building’s total energy consumption, and upgrades can offer considerable cost and energy savings. Elevator energy efficiency can be achieved through a variety of means, and is beneficial to both the environment and your bottom line.

Smart Tracking

To determine your potential savings, you must first understand how much energy your current system consumes. Data logging equipment can measure voltage and current in the electrical lines for the most accurate energy use measurements. Depending on the results, some utilities will even subsidize energy efficient upgrades. Owners may choose to install the equipment themselves or hire a third party to conduct a comprehensive audit of the system. This audit may also evaluate the age of the equipment, identify subsequent modernizations and make recommendations for repairs and upgrades.

Identifying Waste

Once overall energy consumption has been determined, it is important to identify where the greatest waste originates. In most elevators, the drive system is the largest source of inefficiency. Older drives run continuously, using unneeded energy and generating heat that contributes to even more hidden energy costs in the building.

The motor of a hydraulic elevator is another common culprit. These systems can use up to ten times the energy of a modern system. Newer hydraulic elevators are much faster, cutting down on the total time a motor is in use.

Easy Upgrades

If you can’t afford an entirely new system, there are a number of upgrades that can generate significant savings, including:

  • New lighting – Replace fluorescent, halogen or incandescent bulbs with cooler, more energy-efficient LEDs. Older systems can easily be retrofitted with newer bulbs.
  • Controllers – Modern controllers can put elevators in a more cost-effective standby mode when they are unoccupied.
  • Starter replacement – A new starter is more efficient and can also protect against brownouts and subsequent economic losses. For additional savings, pair this upgrade with a new landing system.

Big Improvements, Big Savings

More substantial upgrades can be completed all at once or in phases for greater affordability. Swapping an old DC motor for a newer AC model and drive mechanism can offer up to 50% savings on your energy bill. Full modernization replaces everything but the shaft, but gives you a system that functions like a brand new elevator. For the greatest elevator energy efficiency, ask your SunCoast Elevator Company representative about additional features such as standby mode, destination dispatch and regenerative drives.

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The True Costs of a Malfunctioning Elevator

Issues Associated with a Malfunctioning Elevator

The cost of a malfunctioning elevator can be hard to define. In a commercial building, customers may turn around and leave rather than brave the stairs. Tenants may have no choice, and they will not be pleased. And if malfunctions are common, renewing their lease at another premise may become appealing. In addition, ADA code requires that buildings remain accessible to disabled patrons. Noncompliance may become a danger to building owners if facilities are poorly maintained.

 

Malfunctioning elevator doors

 

Loss of Profit, Loss of Occupants

The economic impact of a malfunctioning elevator is impossible to calculate. A building with only a few stories may have few elevators, and will suffer differently than a skyscraper that has multiple systems. Regardless of the property, elevator economic benefits are substantial.

Out-of-commission elevators can create tension in customers, therefore leading to real economic losses. Building owners who fail to modernize equipment can also face a loss in tenant occupation. Renters may choose not to renew a lease in a building with faulty or substandard equipment.

 

Tenants crammed in malfunctioning elevator

 

Savings Through Upgrades and Maintenance

Elevator upgrades and preventative maintenance can lead to savings in several other ways. Minor repairs and maintenance can eliminate more costly problems down the road. Doors, in particular, can be subject to an immense amount of wear and tear from regular use and cab rider abuse, and therefore should be maintained meticulously. An aggressive preventative maintenance program is much less costly than complete modernization down the line.

On the other hand, a completely new system can save money in terms of energy savings and customer satisfaction. Modern systems can offer up to two-thirds in energy savings when compared to hydraulic elevator system, and up to one-third when compared to older traction systems. Other modern innovations that can increase savings include:

  • Remote monitoring systems – Track fluid levels and vibrations, and can alert technicians when service is required.
  • Solid-state controls – Used on all modern elevator systems. These controls measure traffic and conserve energy by shutting down some elevators when demand is low.
  • Newer motor and drive technology – Allow for faster conveyance and more efficient energy use.
  • AC hoist motor and AC drive – Can be as little as one-quarter the cost of a DC motor and use up to 60 percent less energy.

Don’t underestimate the value of spending a little extra to update the elevator’s aesthetics via modernization. Tenants won’t see the expensive components, but by giving the façade a makeover, you alert them to improvements throughout the system. SunCoast Elevator Company can help you to maintain and modernize your equipment for maximum elevator economic benefits. Call us at 305-690-0955 to discuss how we can help you upgrade.

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Elevators of the Past, Present and Future

To understand the impact elevators have had on our culture, one need only visit New York City. Without a means of vertical conveyance, this metropolis and its imposing skyline would never have been possible. The 102-story Empire State Building alone boasts some 73 elevators. Some can raise visitors to the observation deck on the 80th floor in less than a minute. Visitors can trek to Ellis Island and climb the exhausting 377 steps to the crown of the Statue of Liberty to fully appreciate the miracle of the modern elevator.

an antique intricate metal framed elevator in use in hotel athens greece

The Earliest Elevators

Elevator history began in earnest only two centuries ago. While the use of pulleys to convey both people and freight goes back thousands of years, elevators in the modern sense first arrived on the scene around the 1820s. The first steam-powered elevators were used to move goods and raw materials at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. In 1835 a belt-driven elevator was invented that incorporated a counterweight for added power. Next came hydraulic lifts and standing rope controls.

Old Wooden Elevator in a Metal Shaft

 

In 1852 Elisha Otis demonstrated his safety elevator at New York’s Crystal Palace. In the decades to follow passenger elevators would be incorporated into the design of both apartment complexes and commercial buildings.

Faster, Stronger, Safer

As buildings grew taller and elevators became more ubiquitous, their technology continued to advance. The electric elevator was first built in Germany in 1880, and American inventor Frank Sprague added floor control, acceleration control and automatic elevators. At the same time, other inventors were working on safer doors and machinery.

By the early 1900s elevators had become commonplace in cities throughout the world. The first safety codes in elevator history were established in 1921, calling for enclosed cars and hoistways. Electronic push-buttons replaced elevator operators shortly after World War II.

The Elevators of the Future

Elevator technology continues to evolve today, and building codes are changing rapidly to keep up. The first machine-room-less elevators were installed in the 1990s. These use less energy and create more usable space than previous models

Elevators continue to build speed, as well. The fastest can travel at up to 18 meters per second. Destination-oriented elevators reduce wait times in another way: instead of a single elevator taking passengers to multiple destinations, passengers are assigned to a car based on the floor they’re visiting.

Transparent elevator and staircase in modern building

New performance-based codes may enable even greater innovation by allowing elevator manufacturers to show that their models meet specific safety criteria without dictating how their elevator must do so. Without the limitations imposed by previous codes, inventors will be able to explore all the possibilities that modern technology has to offer.

To update the elevator technology in your building, contact SunCoast Elevator Company, Inc.

 

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