Steps facility managers can take to minimise lift and escalator downtime

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Schindler Lifts Peter Darley, National Portfolio Manager – Service, talks to Facility Management magazine about what facility managers can do to ensure their building transit assets are well-maintained and running as efficiently as possible.

First and foremost, facility managers need to set some core Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

The core KPIs building managers need to focus on are:

  • Mean time between call backs (MTBC)
  • Up time for lifts and escalators
  • Response time from service and maintenance teams.

Mean time
Generally, the acceptable running time between breakdowns for lifts is about 160 days. Keep in mind this figure applies to new equipment. Therefore a lift that’s 25 years old may not have an MTBC of 160. Hence, it is important for facility managers to take note of the age of their equipment and how much it runs. These two aspects tie in closely to reliability and frequency of call backs. Owners and Managers need to understand the environment their assets are running in. This may be common sense, but with buildings and facilities changing ownership with greater frequency in today’s commercial property market, records of the age of assets often get lost in the ‘churn’.

Up time
In tough economic times, facility managers are often called upon to rein in operational and maintenance costs. Keeping lifts and escalators running properly is however a high priority. Alongside HVAC services, building transit services have the greatest impact on business operations. An ongoing maintenance program should be in place by a reputable supplier but often, time-poor facility managers go with cheaper providers, not realising going over the fine print of what some service and maintenance agreements exclude. Make sure you read competitive contracts thoroughly and really understand what the individual offers are. Automatically choosing the cheaper option will most often cost you more in the mid-term.

Response time
When considering which service provider to choose, look at estimated response times offered. Generally, 30 minutes for a trapped passenger and an hour for standard calls is acceptable. Requested response times by customers need to be thought through. If you request a blanket response time of 10 minutes it will either increase your maintenance fee dramatically or you may often be disappointed by missed response times.

Facility managers need to strike a balance when it comes to these three core KPIs, to make sure that they are getting the most value out of their service level agreements.

Peter emphasised the importance for building managers to ensure that there’s documentation of all safety testing and checks made. He says: “The industry is moving away from written documentation, you get service providers conducting checks on mobile devices, which is all fine and good in a paperless world, but when you’re dealing with lifts and escalators where there’s greater risk for passenger injury if something goes wrong, facility managers need the extra level of cover. Always ask your provider to furnish written documentation of all safety testing carried out.

How do facility managers know if their service providers are doing a good job? Peter says facility managers can easily get a fairly accurate idea of the service they are paying for by regularly inspecting the motor rooms for their lifts. He explains: “This may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised by how many facility managers overlook the need to inspect motor rooms. If the motor room is neat, tidy, then you can generally expect that the same level of care is taken with the machinery and servicing. 70 to 80 percent of the time, the motor room is a reflection of what’s going on behind the scenes – if it looks like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark with cobwebs and dust then it’s time to have a serious chat to your service provider.

There is also poor understanding of a lift and escalator’s life cycle. This is where good asset planning can help. Peter says: “Imagine a 20-year-old lift system. The microprocessor that fails is probably obsolete and in some cases the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is no longer trading, so when the processor fails, how do you find one? Buildings without proper asset planning will then face a unit that’s shut down and out of service till the system can be modernised. The inconvenience and cost incurred by building occupants is significant.”

Peter also warns of a change in service agreements offered in the market. He says “A few years ago, comprehensive coverage meant that service providers would replace all parts, conduct all repairs, and respond to all call backs that aren’t attributed to external influence or vandalism. Nowadays, there are service providers out there who exclude certain elements in their ‘comprehensive’ service agreements. Always check to see if anything is excluded in the offer such as ropes or sheaves.”

In a nutshell, the top six things busy facility managers need to consider are:

  • Get your core KPIs for building transit services in order
  • Ensure that proper asset planning is in place
  • Understand your lift system’s life cycle
  • Conduct frequent checks of motor rooms to get a fair idea of the service standards you’re paying for
  • When it’s time for tender, always compare agreements to see that you are truly getting comprehensive cover
  • And finally, get to know your service manager and technician.

 

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