Elevators out of service… due to a lack of preventive maintenance
The other day in class I was discussing with my students the challenges of elevator maintenance and one of them referred to a very interesting article published some months ago, that talks about an alarming increase of elevators out of service in Canada. They take the data from the rescues performed by the fire department in different cities around the country.
Two causes are mentioned as reasons for such deterioration. On the one hand, the ageing of those elevators that aren’t modernized on time. On the other hand, structural aspects of the industry, derived from the acquisition of market share by multinationals, through price reduction and purchase of small elevator service companies.
The reduction of prices and the concentration of maintenance staff lead technicians to devote less time to their work. Thirty years ago, one of the sources cited says, one technician maintained between 35 and 45 elevators for only $1000 a year and now, one technician maintains some 100 elevators for $600 a year.
In other countries, the share of elevators with respect to the number of technicians is widely exceeded. Although we must take into account the differences between markets, it seems obvious that the less time we devote to preventive maintenance, the more breakdowns an elevator will suffer, and the less we earn, the more we’ll need to reduce costs.
Still on the article we were talking about, the owner of a rental apartment holds the consolidation of companies around an “oligarchy” that limits the choices responsible for this situation. He adds that “big elevator companies don’t maintain elevators as well as small companies do.”
Such assertion may be more or less debatable, but the truth is that, unlike big companies, which have other substantial sources of income, small companies base their activity in taking good care of the elevators they maintain. Besides, small companies work under less pressure on the part of shareholders, who want to attain the profitability ratios intended.
Someone might argue that, thanks to technological advances, elevators need less and less maintenance but, so far, the essential components haven’t changed and they are still subject to wear.
Elevator owners and properties managers in their name must collaborate with maintenance companies and require that all of them, regardless of their size, complete the necessary maintenance work to reduce breakdowns, prolong the life of the elevator and, most importantly, avoid accidents.
Let’s prevent the sign of “Out of Service” from ending up spreading all around our cities.