A building’s elevator is a significant investment that will last a lifetime. You can control many things at the time you purchase an elevator to reduce the cost over its lifetime.
1. Do not use proprietary control systems. Many elevators today are either proprietary or contain proprietary parts. The only person who can provide a service provider for a proprietary control system is the contractor installing it. To better understand your elevator’s life expectancy costs, please refer to item 4. It is often difficult or impossible to obtain competitive maintenance quotes for proprietary elevator components. Some cases, 5-10 years after the new control system was introduced, there are third-party tools and/or parts that can be used by other elevator contractors to maintain their proprietary controls. It may then be possible to obtain competitive maintenance quotes.
2. Do not use proprietary elevator designs. Some new lift part suppliers are proprietary. Many newer MRLs (machineroomless) elevators have many proprietary components, making the whole elevator essentially proprietary. Although it is possible to buy the components from a competitor, the prices are often more than 10 times that of a comparable component for an elevator with a traditional design. All the issues mentioned above are still valid. Additionally, there is a greater chance that the components will become obsolete faster and replacement parts for the market are rarely produced due to low demand. Some critical MRL components have been obsoleted in recent years, even though the elevator was only a year old.
3. Have a fixed price for long-term maintenance. This is a common practice in elevator manufacturing. It is often difficult or impossible for a building owner to find a maintenance contractor that can properly maintain proprietary equipment. The building owner is forced to agree to a very expensive maintenance contract. Before purchasing an elevator, compare the maintenance proposal and the installation proposal. This will often result in a lower elevator life-cycle cost.
4. Check the installation contractor’s service capabilities. Not all contractors provide 24-hour emergency service. These things are especially problematic when it comes to the purchase of LULA (Limited Use Limited Application), elevators or elevating devices (accessibility lifts) for disabled persons. Talk to maintenance professionals in the area where you plan to buy an elevator before making a purchase. Ask about the service and response times of those who have used the installation contractor’s maintenance services for five to ten years. You can also seek the guidance of an elevator service company in your area to understand any long-term service issues with that equipment. Most elevator service companies have extensive experience with all types of equipment. The more well-respected ones will be happy to share their knowledge with you. You should be satisfied with the service and reputation of the maintenance company for the lifetime of your elevator controls. This can vary depending on which equipment you select. In the elevator industry, it is common to sell the initial installation for less than cost and then make up the difference by selling costly maintenance agreements.
5. Check out the reputation of installing contractors for extra charges or delays to projects. It is not unusual for some contractors to charge extra fees in excess of 50% of their original contract price. Others elevator contractors complete most of their installations on time and without additional charges. Talk to other general contractors and building owners to find out which contractors they prefer to work with for both the installation and maintenance. Projects can often fall behind in the elevator industry due to the intricacy of the approval process and installation process. Because elevator equipment takes a long time to manufacture and install, overtime can be necessary to make sure that the elevator is installed on schedule.
6. Examine the expected obsolescence time of the elevator. In their literature, elevator equipment manufacturers clearly state that owners can expect to spend substantial money to modernize their elevators within a few years of their installation. Some products have seen obsolescence times that are shorter in the past. To get an idea of the future, look at the history and support provided by different elevator manufacturers or component manufacturers to find out how they supported their products in the past. Manufacturers have a history of obsolescence and a projected time frame of 25+ years. A maintenance company without any cross ownership or strong ties with any manufacturing companies will provide you with an objective view of the support offered by different manufacturers for older products. Modernizing an elevator can cost between 50% and 80%, so choosing one with a longer life span is a good decision.
7. Make sure you have enough elevators. You should have enough elevators in your building. In most cases, an additional elevator will provide you with at least one lift in case of a breakdown. It will also allow for continued service to higher floors.
8. Determine the intended use of your elevator. Once a building has been built to accommodate a specific type of elevating device it may be difficult to make changes. These are the most common elevator errors that building owners bring to their elevator maintenance contractors. Usually, there is no solution without high costs.
* Buying a LULA elevator rather than a conventional hydraulic passenger elevator – The LULA is a cost-savings option that can be used to save significant equipment and building expenses. However, the code limits it to a very slow maximum speed.
* Buying a Vertical C Handicapped lift instead of a LULA or an elevator – Vertical C lifts cannot be operated automatically. The button must be held continuously while the elevator is in motion. Building personnel must control the keys.
* Purchase a Material Lift instead a Freight Elvator. Material Lifts cannot run automatically (the button must remain pressed continuously while they are in motion), and they generally run slower than elevators.
* Purchase a Stair Chair Lift or Stair Platform Lift rather than an enclosed vertical elevating device. Stair lifts are open to the elements with most of their equipment exposed. The equipment is often exposed to curious individuals, which can lead to high maintenance costs and costly repairs. Because of the stigma associated with using these stairways, they are rarely used. Many people with mobility issues would prefer to climb the stairs rather than be on a chair lift.