Momentum e-Newsletter Featured Article
The Maintenance Audit
In recent years, elevators and escalators have been in the media in regards to incidents and entrapments. As a result, having safe and reliable elevators and escalators is one of the most important responsibilities of today's building owner. In order for any vertical transportation to operate both safely and reliably, an adequate maintenance program must be supported, implemented, and overseen by the building owner.
Commonly, maintenance is performed by a maintenance contractor, and in most cases, it is not the original equipment manufacturer. The building owner's responsibilities do not only involve the vertical transportation within the building, but the mechanical and electrical systems. Therefore, the building owner must make a large financial investment by procuring a third-party maintenance contractor to maintain the vertical transportation within the building. Typically, the building owner relies on the maintenance contractor to perform in accordance to the contract requirements and, only becomes aware of the condition of the vertical transportation equipment when occupants and/or tenants have complaints.
How can the building owner protect his investment and get the most out of his contract and better keep track of the condition of the vertical transportation in his building? Answer, through the use of a third-party consultant. The third-party consultant is commonly hired to verify that the elevators and escalators are operating to their original equipment manufacturer's specifications and that they meet current code requirements. Since current A17.1 code requirements pertain to maintenance of existing equipment, the third-party consultant can verify that these requirements are being met by the maintenance contractor. The most important among these, is the Maintenance Records. Complete, proper, and precise documentation may become a very valuable tool to the building owner in the unlikely event that litigation results from an incident or entrapment involving the vertical transportation equipment.
Review of the Maintenance Records by the third-party consultant can help reassure the building owner that the vertical transportation equipment is receiving the proper amount of preventive maintenance and that shutdowns are being accurately recorded. A careful examination of the shutdown records may indicate a trend involving specific parts failures and areas that may need a higher level of maintenance. This is of great value to both the building owner and the maintenance contractor if the frequency of preventive maintenance being performed on the vertical transportation equipment is based on usage.
Future Needs Assessment
A thorough maintenance audit, while providing the building owner useful information on the current operating status of the vertical transportation within the building, will also provide the building owner the information he needs to plan for future improvements or modifications to the equipment that may be necessary due to recent code changes. For example, a detail maintenance audit for an escalator may include step/skirt performance index testing to determine what measures may be required, if any, to bring the escalator in compliance with the current A17.1 code requirement.
Cost Reduction Benefits
The third-party consultant can be a valuable asset to the building owner when it comes to monitoring the maintenance contract. There are typically two types of maintenance contracts used by building owners. These are referred to as either a "full maintenance contract" or as a "parts, oil, and grease contract". Depending on which type is used, additional costs may be encountered by the building owner during the term of the contract. By careful review of the terms and conditions of the current maintenance contract, the third-party consultant can help reduce maintenance and repair costs by identifying items that have a high cost of repair or replacement, especially if they are covered under the full maintenance contract at no cost to the owner.
Periodic inspections performed by the jurisdictional authority provides the building owner the certification required to operate the vertical transportation equipment. However, it is important to note that a maintenance audit performed by a third-party consultant differs from the jurisdictional periodic inspection in that the audit involves the inspection of parts and components not typically inspected by the jurisdictional authority. Also, the maintenance audit is conducted to evaluate operational performance of the vertical transportation as it pertains to the original equipment specifications. This is not typically evaluated by the jurisdictional authority. Finally, as the term "maintenance audit" implies, the third-party consultant evaluates the overall performance of the maintenance contractor in regards to meeting their obligations as set forth in their maintenance contract.
Whether you are a building owner with the responsibility of overseeing the maintenance of few or many vertical transportation equipment, you are tasked with an important responsibility to make sure that your equipment is safe, reliable, and operating according to specification. Whether you use a maintenance contractor or an in-house maintenance provider, it is important to gauge the level of maintenance being provided to make sure that it is adequate and meets your needs and the requirements of the maintenance contract.
Most building owners could benefit from the use of a third-party consultant to perform periodic evaluations of the operation of the elevators and escalators and the maintenance being provided.
The third-party consultant can be a valuable tool for the building owner and can provide reassurance and peace of mind to both the building owner and the occupants of the building that the vertical transportation is safe and reliable.