Unlocking the potential of your elevator and escalator service provider

by Peter Darley
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How commercial and strata building facility managers engage their elevator and escalator service providers is a vital part of ensuring vertical transportation equipment operates at peak performance.

It may seem obvious for facility managers to establish a strong relationship with their service provider, but this engagement is often an overlooked aspect of a building’s service and maintenance program.

Facility managers generally understand how critical it is to keep building transit assets well-maintained and running efficiently. In commercial or strata buildings, facility managers must ensure reliable operation of the equipment so inhabitants of the structures can remain as productive as possible.

Schindler Lifts' Peter Darley

Schindler Lifts’ Peter Darley

But how does a facility manager know if the building’s service provider is delivering on the potential of their agreement?

It can be as simple as inspecting the equipment’s motor room – something surprisingly often missed by facility managers – to establish an idea of how well assets are being managed and maintained. If a motor room is kept in good condition, then it is usually safe to expect that a similar level of care is being taken when it comes to a technician servicing the equipment.

While the motor room is a logical place to start, a facility manager should prioritise establishing effective communication channels with their service provider, including with supervisors and technicians, to realise maximum benefits from the relationship.

As is the case for Schindler Lifts Australia, most agreements between service providers and commercial or strata buildings are known as comprehensive contracts.

It is the comprehensive nature of these contracts, however, that often leads to complacency around the need for ongoing engagement between the two parties. Many of Schindler Lifts’ clients are often unaware of the benefits and value they can gain through a comprehensive agreement.

A fully comprehensive contract typically combines callback coverage with regular preventive maintenance visits and automatic replacement of consumable items. It provides automatic replacement of components of an installation subject to wear within their proven lifetime.

This type of contract is ideal for new installations and is designed to complement the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Comparing comprehensive agreements

While most service providers offer comprehensive agreements, an analysis of proposals from different companies will usually reveal contrasting terms.

This is especially important to understand when negotiating a new contract for a comprehensive service agreement. In the past, comprehensive coverage generally meant that service providers would replace all the parts, conduct all repairs and respond to callbacks not attributed to external influence or vandalism.

Today, there are service providers that may seem cheaper on the surface but they actually exclude certain elements in their version of a comprehensive service agreement compared with others. It is important to carefully analyse and compare what is offered.

This is a key reason why a facility manager should not become complacent when they see they are covered by a comprehensive service agreement. Further engagement and awareness of the agreement will allow them to extract the full potential of the contract.

Communication between service providers and facility managers is a ‘two-way street’ and maintaining that engagement should be considered as a valuable opportunity that forms part of the agreement.

Planning your asset life cycle

Regular engagement also helps to ensure proper asset planning for equipment by increasing a facility manager’s understanding of the life cycle of an elevator or escalator.

Buildings that have effective asset planning scheduled throughout the life cycle of their assets will reduce operational downtime, often remove the need for repairs and be better prepared for modernisation projects.

By not mapping out the equipment life cycle and preparing for the eventual upgrade or replacement equipment owners often find themselves with large unplanned expenses and downtime. For strata, this means some tenants will need to vacate and in commercial applications it can have a large impact on customers within the building.

Digital engagement

The vertical transportation industry is currently experiencing a digital revolution that is providing more access to maintenance and performance data and analytics, while also increasing the mobility of service technicians.

For the past two years, the digitisation of Schindler Lifts in Australia has accelerated. This transformation is on track to culminate with the completion of an upgrade project that will see our systems integrated into one seamless platform during the first half of 2017.

As part of the company’s digital commitment, Schindler Lifts earlier this year formed a strategic alliance with GE Digital that will use the potential of the industrial internet for digital innovations in elevators, escalators and smart buildings.

[quote style=’1′ cite=”]Regular engagement also helps to ensure proper asset planning for equipment by increasing a facility manager’s understanding of the life cycle of an elevator or escalator.[/quote]

Schindler Lifts will leverage GE’s digital expertise in advanced analytics to enhance its use of the Internet of Things, predictive analytics, machine learning and in providing solutions to users and customers.

Technological partnerships and developments have led to improved reliability, better performance, greater sustainability, superior scheduling methods and more intelligent equipment.

Understanding how these developments benefit facility managers and their relationship with service providers is now a relevant part of the engagement between the two parties.

It provides facility managers with another set of reporting tools to help them communicate with service technicians and to interpret the performance of their equipment.

Assessing service providers

To better understand how beneficial their relationship with service providers is, facility managers can assess three key performance indicators (KPIs) – mean time between callbacks (MTBC), up time for lifts and escalators, and response time from service and maintenance teams.

When it comes to these KPIs facility managers need to find a balance between them to ensure they are getting the most value out of their service level agreements.

Glossary

Mean time. Generally, the acceptable running time between breakdowns for new lifts is about 160 days. It is important for equipment managers to know the age of their equipment and how much it operates – these two aspects are tied closely to reliability and frequency of callbacks. Owners and managers must also understand the environment in which the assets are running.

Up time. Keeping lifts and escalators running properly is a priority for facility managers. Therefore, an ongoing maintenance program should be in place by a reputable supplier. Often, a time-poor facility manager will go with a cheaper provider for this, not realising what some service and maintenance agreements exclude in the fine print. Owners and managers should make sure they compare competitive contracts thoroughly to understand the individual offers.

Response time. When considering service providers, equipment owners or managers must look at the estimated response times they offer. Generally, 30 minutes for a trapped passenger and an hour for a standard call are acceptable. Requested response times need to be thought through by the customer. If you request a blanket response time of 15 minutes, it will either significantly increase costs or leave owners and managers disappointed by missed response times.

This article also appears in the October/November 2016 edition of Facility Management magazine.

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