Even if you don’t follow the latest news of the elevator industry, you may have read about what the National Post recently referred to as Canada’s “Elevator Crisis.”
As the number of new high-rises – and therefore elevators – in Canada has gone up, and as existing elevators get older, maintenance companies have struggled to adapt to the increased demand for service.
Many have responded by increasing their technicians’ workload rather than by bringing on more trained staff. They’ve also cut way back on offering preventative maintenance and on-site visual inspections, because providing these services takes time. But, as we all know, when the same number of people are all of a sudden doing more work, quality and performance suffer.
The Causes of the Crisis
It used to be that technicians managed a dozen or so clients at a time, which meant that they could check on each of them once per month for routine visual inspections and preventative maintenance. Now, the same technician may oversee 100 buildings in the same time frame.
For this to be possible, corners need to be cut – and the first things to go are regular inspections and preventative maintenance. That means that no one is assessing and diagnosing equipment issues until something goes wrong. Building owners are then stuck needing to react to resolve a problem rather than proactively anticipating and addressing issues before things go wrong.
Are you willing to take that risk with your buildings’ accessibility?
Knowledge Is Power: The Big Five
You can avoid getting caught in the middle of this growing problem by understanding your equipment and how to care for it. Your elevator maintenance company should empower you with insight into what your equipment needs, and should help you understand the regular preventative services that will help you maintain it. And if they don’t offer those services? Well, it might be worth reconsidering that relationship…Here are 5 questions to ask to make sure you’re getting the support you need to keep your buildings out of the headlines:
- Is High-Quality Work Being Performed?
- Am I Being Informed & Empowered?
- Is The Work Performed Efficiently?
- Does My Technician Focus On Safety?
- Is My Maintenance Company Transparent & Trustworthy?
The biggest factor in maintaining your equipment, and preventing long repair delays is anticipating issues.
Look for a company that offers regular (i.e., monthly) on-site visual inspections. Remote monitoring may seem like a good way to save, but you get what you pay for, not what you need. Going this route often costs more in the long-run because your equipment isn’t getting the regular upkeep it needs to stay in good shape, and because technicians don’t catch smaller issues until after they become big problems.
Your elevators are your equipment. You should feel knowledgeable about them. Your service technician should collaborate with you to ensure you have complete understanding and trust in your machine. They should explain what your needs are – including what future needs are likely to arise – and explain when a repair is urgent vs. when it can wait.
Elevators are like taxis – they transport people round-the-clock and sometimes non-stop. Your maintenance company should provide focused, practical and economical work – when you need it – to keep your fleet running smoothly while minimizing interruptions. Proactive preventative maintenance is a big part of ensuring this.
Without question, safety needs to be a top priority. It’s foolish to provide only minimal attention to crucial equipment like elevators – even if it seems to be functioning well – because high rates of entrapment are due in part to a lack of routine maintenance, regular inspections and oversight.
Your maintenance company should be clear about its responsibilities to you and how it will meet them. Check for outstanding mandates from authorities; if they aren’t being met, that’s a big red flag that the company isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.
How will you know if a company will meet your needs? After meeting them, you should be able to answer these questions:
What happens when your service provider is so busy they have a hard time giving the service you need? Do you get abandoned? Do corners get cut? How would you know, if they are? Are they explaining things to you? Do they have enough staff that everything gets taken care of properly?