In any multistory academic, administrative, athletic, or residential building, the vertical transportation systems are typically composed of elevators and escalators. Because these units represent a significant expense, their proper design, installation, and maintenance is essential to building operations and public safety. As a result, effective asset management becomes an important responsibility for all facilities managers. To assist in this responsibility, this section will address the different types of elevators; basic elevator design parameters; elevator, escalator, and building code requirements; maintenance and periodic safety inspection requirements; remote monitoring capabilities; and modernization and upgrading of existing systems.
Types of ElevatorsTop
Elevators utilized in modern buildings generally fall into four distinct types: hydraulic, geared traction, machine-roomless compact gearless traction, and gearless traction. Each type of elevator has specific characteristics that, when properly applied, make it appropriate for a particular building or usage application. The four types of elevators commonly used are discussed below.
Hydraulic elevators have commonly been used in low-rise, low-use buildings of two to five stories and typically operate at a maximum speed of 150 feet per minute (fpm). Hydraulic elevators are available in three configurations, depending on the application. These are (1) direct plunger, (2) indirect telescoping, and (3) indirect “roped.” All hydraulics achieve their vertical motion from a hydraulic plunger moving within a hydraulic cylinder.
The most common type of hydraulic elevator is the direct-plunger hydraulic, in which the plunger is fastened to the bottom of the elevator car. The plunger moves in a hydraulic cylinder that extends as deep into the ground as the vertical travel of the elevator in the building. With an indirect telescoping–type hydraulic, the plunger(s) are offset at the side(s) of the elevator car and are fastened to the bottom of the elevator car. In the case of the indirect roped–type hydraulic elevator, the plunger acts on steel cables or hoist ropes, similar to a traction elevator, to perform the actual lifting of the elevator car with the cables attached to the bottom of the car. These types of hydraulic elevators are usually limited to the situations where the elevator has a higher-than-typical travel and may be somewhat limited in overhead space.
All hydraulic elevators utilize a pump driven by an alternating current (AC) electric motor, which forces oil into the hydraulic cylinder to raise the elevator car. Startup, slowdown, and leveling of the car are controlled by electrically operated valves. The opening of a valve, combined with gravity acting on the weight of the elevator car, forces oil from the cylinder(s) back into the oil reservoir to lower the car.
More recent installations are conducted where the pump unit, oil tank, and elevator controller are located below the elevator cab in the hoistway pit and can be provided for either direct-plunger or indirect-telescoping configurations. Although gaining in popularity, these installations remain limited in quantity.
Geared Traction Elevators
Geared traction elevators have historically been used in mid-rise, moderate-use buildings of 5 to 15 stories and typically operate at speeds of 200 fpm to 500 fpm in passenger-, service-, and freight-elevator applications.
Geared traction elevators achieve their vertical motion from an AC electric motor that is directly coupled to a worm (gear) shaft. Electrical rotation of the motor is converted to mechanical rotation of the main pinion and worm gear, which in turn acts upon a larger ring gear coupled to the main drive sheave shaft. Steel cables or “hoist ropes,” typically ranging from four (4) to seven (7) ropes in quantity, each having a typical diameter of ½-in. to ¾-in. , depending on capacity, speed, and travel height, run from the end of the elevator car over the drive sheave and back to a counterweight. The downward force caused by gravity acting on the weight of the car and counterweight creates friction between the steel cables and the drive sheave, thus creating “traction.” As the drive sheave rotates, the elevator car is raised or lowered. This roping configuration is referred to as 1:1 and is preferred for elevators of 700 fpm or less, or where specialty configurations require alternate roping configurations.
Passenger elevators and standard-capacity service elevators that have traditionally been provided with a geared traction hoist machine are now increasingly being replaced by the newest type of elevator, referred to as “machine-roomless” traction elevators, or MRLs, which utilize an energy-efficient permanent-magnet alternating-current (PMAC) “compact gearless” hoist machine. Geared traction hoist machines are still used, but generally only for large capacity service and freight elevators.
Machine-Roomless Traction Elevators
MRL traction elevators use energy-efficient “compact” gearless traction hoist machines that are typically mounted within the confines of the hoistway. The machine can be located above structural members, can be building-supported, or can be attached to one of the elevator shaft guide rails (referred to as “self-supported”). The actual machine-support requirements vary by manufacturer, but in all cases the location is at the top of the elevator shaft above the last floor served. Typical elevator speeds are 200 fpm, 350 fpm, and 500 fpm, although 600 fpm is achievable by at least one manufacturer. Product development by multiple manufacturers is currently underway in an effort to further increase the speed of this type of equipment to 700 fpm.
MRL compact gearless traction machines operate under principles similar to those of geared traction hoist machines. However, with PMAC machines, there is no need to house shafts and gears within oil-filled casing. For self-supported machines, electrical energy is converted into rotation mechanical energy for purposes of rotating the main drive shaft, which is conveniently mounted outside the rotating element of the armature. For building-supported machines, this same configuration may be available, although there are still designs that allow for the rotating armature, attached directly to the main drive sheave, to operate similarly to the geared traction machine.
Two different types of suspension material can be provided, again based on the specific elevator manufacturer’s design. One method retains the more traditional steel cables, whereas the other utilizes a much newer technology, often referred to as “suspension media” or “belts” due to the various designs. Ultimately, this terminology simply refers to a polyurethane (or similar material)-coated collection of steel belts, measuring less than ¼ in. in diameter, which then connect the top of the elevator car to the top of the counterweight. As a result of the PMAC machine design, MRL traction hoist machines provide improved energy efficiency and superior ride quality over geared traction hoist machines.
MRL traction elevators are available from all major manufacturers as well as numerous third-party independent providers.
Gearless Traction Elevators
Gearless traction elevators utilizing traditional full-size gearless traction hoist machines are used in high-use buildings of 20 or more stories, and generally operate at speeds of 500 fpm to 2,000 fpm, although speeds in excess of 2,000 fpm are becoming more common as more supertall and megatall buildings are being constructed. In 2021, the world’s fastest elevators now in commercial operation operate at a speed of over 1,260 meters per minute (m/min), or just over 4,100 fpm. They are located at the Guangzhou CTF Finance Center, a 530-meter-high skyscraper located in Guangzhou, China, and were installed by Hitachi. These elevators surpassed the 1,230-m/min elevators, or 4,000-fpm elevators located at Shanghai Tower in Shanghai, China, installed by Mitsubishi. Both installations eclipsed the previous record of 3,300 fpm at the Taipei Financial Center in Taiwan.
Traditional gearless traction hoist machines operate under the same principle as compact gearless MRL traction hoist machines. The drive sheave of a traditional gearless hoist machine is connected directly to the motor shaft. Significantly faster speeds are possible with traditional gearless elevators because of their large physical size and low revolutions per minute (RPMs), and they provide the optimum in performance and ride quality. These units typically utilize the alternate 2:1 roping configuration, which allows for 50 percent of the machine revolutions to achieve the same elevator speed.
Figure 1 summarizes the types of elevators and their applications while Figure 2 identifies each elevator type’s advantages and disadvantages.
Figure 1. Types of Elevators
Figure 2. Advantages and Disadvantages
Vertical Transportation Design ParametersTop
Proper vertical transportation design begins with an evaluation of building conditions. This ensures that the proper equipment type, capacity, speed, and number of elevators or escalators are installed. The mechanics for calculating theoretical performance and the criteria used to evaluate the vertical transportation systems are developed according to the type of building, its occupancy, and its usage. In general, factors determining proper vertical transportation design include (1) the quality of service and (2) the quantity of service.
Quality of service refers to some type of time measurement relating to passenger waiting time. The method used to evaluate this dimension utilizing a traditional “two-button” control system is called “average interval,” while that used to evaluate a destination dispatch control system, which enables the elevator system to assign the most efficient elevator for the user’s intended destination, is called “average wait time.”
Quantity reflects the ability of the elevator or escalator systems to handle traffic loads as they develop. “Handling capacity” is the standard used to evaluate this dimension. For elevators, sufficient capacity should be provided so that arriving elevators accommodate all waiting persons, including the mobility impaired. For escalators, this translates into sufficient handling capacity to minimize queuing as people approach the entry landing. Ideally, sufficient capacity should be provided so that people board escalators upon arrival without a wait.
The average interval between elevator departures from the main lobby in an academic office building should not exceed 35 seconds. The average waiting time for elevator service after registration of a corridor call should not exceed 28 seconds, and the elevator system should have the capability to move 12 to 15 percent of the total building or zone population above the main building lobby in a five-minute “up-peak” traffic period. In a typical academic classroom application, the average interval should be a maximum of 45 seconds with an average waiting time of 35 seconds. Student residential buildings typically have a maximum average interval of 55 seconds with an average waiting time of 44 seconds. In both student academic and student residential buildings, the required system-handling capacity is based on the percentage of people who require elevator service, up and down, during a peak five-minute “two-way” traffic condition, such as during a class change.
Typical academic office, classroom, and residential buildings utilize passenger elevators in the 3,000-4,000-lb. capacity range, whereas athletic facilities may utilize passenger elevator capacities of up to 5,500-6,000 lbs. Service elevators are typically 4,500-5,000-lb. capacity or as needed to support the unique requirements of laboratory and research buildings. The type of elevator equipment and elevator speed vary with the usage and height of the building. Regardless of the type of elevator equipment and speed, elevators must provide smooth acceleration and deceleration. As a minimum, they should provide accurate leveling within plus-or-minus 1/4 in. of floor level.
Elevators should be located within sight of the main building entry and ideally should never open into pedestrian corridors. In low- to moderate-rise academic and residential buildings, this is not often possible. In these instances, the building code requires that the elevator entrances be fitted with a means to prevent smoke migration into the elevator hoistway in the event of fire. Elevators should be equipped with visual and audible signals in the car that indicate car position and travel direction; elevator lobbies should be equipped with visual and audible signals that indicate travel direction.
Escalators used in athletic facilities should also be located within sight of the entry of the population they serve, that is, general admission spectators or those seated in the club and suite levels of the stadium. Escalators should be located such that the landing areas are large enough to allow for heavy queuing at the completion of an event as spectators are exiting the facility.
Elevator, Escalator, and Building CodesTop
Beginning in 2007, the Canadian and U.S. elevator codes were harmonized into a single document: ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07, Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, combining the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) standard ASME A17.1 and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard CSA B44-07. Building codes throughout North American states (or Canadian provinces), cities, and municipalities reference some version of the ASME/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A17.1 or the Canadian CSA B44 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. In addition, some states have supplemental code requirements that modify, or are in addition to, the requirements of ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07. Because many local jurisdictions modify this standard code or adopt new versions of the code based on legislative cycles, facilities managers must determine the current edition of the code that is in effect for their building.
The code is updated annually by an addendum, with a completely new printing every three years. Copies of the code are available from the ASME Order Department. In jurisdictions that have not formally adopted the current “harmonized” version of the elevator code (ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07), earlier versions of either the ASME A17.1 code or the CSA B44 code can be obtained from the ASME Order Department at the following address and phone number:
ASME Order Department
22 Law Drive
P.O. Box 2300
Fairfield, New Jersey 07007-2300
In the United States, the ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07 code deals strictly with elevators, escalators, and other forms of vertical and horizontal transportation. Model building codes that pertain to elevators include the International Building Code (IBC), as well as certain state or local jurisdictional amendments to the IBC. In Canada, the prevailing model building code is the National Building Code of Canada 2015, along with certain provincial amendments. In addition to the code requirements of the elevator and model building codes, elevator code requirements are found in the National Electrical Code (NEC); the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes NFPA-72, NFPA 101, NFPA-13, and NFPA 5000; and state (province) and local ordinances.
In the United States, accessibility requirements accommodating the mobility impaired are outlined in the IBC, the International Code Council/ANSI code A117.1, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), although the ADA is civil rights legislation and is not a building code per se. In Canada, the Canadian elevator code CSA B44, Section E, outlines standards that affect vertical transportation design, installation, and operation.
Elevators, escalators, and other forms of vertical transportation equipment represent a significant investment in a building’s infrastructure. They require routine maintenance to operate safely, reliably, and properly, and to maximize their useful service life. Most owners and facilities managers of elevators, escalators, and other vertical transportation systems will contract with the elevator provider or other qualified elevator service providers for routine preventive maintenance, callback service, and periodic code-required Category 1 and Category 5 safety inspections because of the liability associated with these types of public transportation systems.
Elevator and Escalator Maintenance Contracts
Elevator contractors essentially offer two types of maintenance contracts in today’s market: “full or complete maintenance” (CM) and “oil and grease” (OG). The basic characteristics of each type of maintenance contract are as follows:
Full or Complete Maintenance. For a stated monthly fee, the elevator service provider will perform all routine maintenance and repair and provide callback service when an elevator or escalator is out of service. There are no additional monthly charges for parts or labor, no matter how many times the unit is out of service, unless the callback is the result of vandalism or abuse or occurs outside of normal working hours of the elevator trade. This type of maintenance contract provides the best protection and optimizes the life cycle of the elevator and escalator equipment. It also typically includes all statutory code–required periodic Category 1 and Category 5 safety inspections at no additional charge.
Oil and Grease. Under this type of contract, the elevator service provider, for a nominal monthly fee, performs a routine maintenance examination. During this examination, the elevator is cleaned, oiled, and adjusted. Any noted safety deficiencies, repairs, replacement parts, or callback services are billed in addition to the monthly fee. Code-required periodic Category 1 and Category 5 safety inspections also incur an additional charge.
Although the cost of a CM contract is higher than that of an OG contract, monthly maintenance costs are fixed and known in advance, making it a much simpler process to budget for maintenance or to assign the associated monthly costs to specific buildings or “general fund” cost centers.
Academic institutions with many elevators and escalators sometimes utilize in-house maintenance personnel for some or all of this equipment. This can substantially reduce costs; however, the owner or facilities manager must be certain that the elevator technicians employed are qualified for the various systems that they are responsible to maintain, because the institution is taking on the full liability for public safety. In these instances, a standing-order contract is made with a qualified service provider for large-scale repairs, replacement of hoist ropes on traction elevators, escalator step chain repair and replacement, and statutory periodic Category 1 and Category 5 code-required safety inspections, which in-house staff personnel are not equipped to perform.
Regardless of the type of maintenance contract, or whether maintenance is performed by in-house personnel, maintenance can be broken into four general areas: housekeeping, lubrication, replacement or repair of worn components, and adjustments. These areas sometimes overlap but are sufficiently independent to allow separate evaluation.
Housekeeping requires approximately 60 percent of the total time spent maintaining equipment. Although this may seem excessive for simply cleaning, it is time well spent. If the environment is kept clean, the fire hazard (especially in hoistways and pits) is reduced. Potential troubles and worn components are often detected during routine cleaning operations. Dirt is a major cause of malfunctions; a speck of dust between relay contacts can cause an elevator or escalator to be out of service. Finally, a clean environment makes routine inspection and maintenance easier.
Lubrication requires approximately 15 percent of the total time spent maintaining equipment. As with any mechanical equipment, proper lubrication minimizes wear, ensures proper operation, and maximizes the trouble-free life of components.
Replacement or Repair
Replacement or repair of worn components represents approximately 15 percent of the time spent in maintenance. By detecting and replacing worn components, it is possible to prevent or minimize malfunctions and unscheduled shutdowns. Systematic repair and replacement of components ensures optimum useful life of the equipment.
Adjustments require approximately 10 percent of the total maintenance time. Proper, timely adjustment keeps the equipment working smoothly and quietly while optimizing performance.
Although elevators and escalators are the safest form of public transportation, accidents can and do happen to poorly trained, inexperienced maintenance personnel working on or around this equipment. Facilities managers who elect to maintain elevators and escalators using in-house maintenance personnel should take advantage of training courses on elevator safety and maintenance practices offered by ASME, as well as those offered by various third-party control and equipment suppliers.
Maintenance personnel should become familiar with the code requirements for statutory periodic inspections and testing. This is essential if in-house staff will be performing or witnessing these tests to ensure the tests are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the code. In the United States, in January 2014, ANSI was designated the organization that certifies elevator inspectors and offers safety and code tests. ANSI may be contacted at the following address:
1899 L Street, NW, 11th Floor
Washington DC 20036
Whether an owner or facilities manager contracts with an outside service provider or establishes an in-house maintenance department for routine maintenance responsibilities, it is essential to note recent changes in the elevator code. These changes are outlined in Section 8.6 of ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07 and require that a “written maintenance control plan” be in place for each unit and building and reflect the specific requirements of each unit relative to usage, environmental conditions, and other factors. This maintenance control plan must be accessible to maintenance personnel, code officials, and others as needed.
To verify the appropriateness of the maintenance control plan for any given unit or building, it is incumbent on the facilities manager to routinely tour the elevator machine rooms and ride the elevator cars and escalators to evaluate the level and quality of maintenance being performed. During these routine reviews, it is essential that at a minimum, the manager notes the following:
- Does the emergency telephone/communication device function?
- Does the elevator operate smoothly and level properly at the floor?
- Do all the call buttons illuminate when pressed?
- Does firefighter’s operation (where provided) function properly?
- Is the elevator machine room and equipment clean, with all parts and lubricants properly stored in metal cabinets?
- Does the escalator operate smoothly and quietly?
- Are there adequate spare parts stocked on the job site?
- Are the code-required statutory periodic safety tests current and up-to-date?
If the manager answers “no” to any of these questions, some improvement in elevator or escalator operation and maintenance is necessary to maximize the safety of the riding public and the life cycle of the equipment.
Statutory Periodic Elevator and Escalator Safety InspectionsTop
In North America, owners and facilities managers should become familiar with Part 8 of the ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. Part 8, Section 8.10, covers acceptance inspections and tests of new elevators and escalators that are required before placing them into use. Part 8, Section 8.11, as required by Section 8.6 (Maintenance Control Plan), and the Nonmandatory Appendix N, outline the minimum recommended frequency of routine and periodic inspection of all electric traction and hydraulic passenger, service, and freight elevators, and escalators.
Because construction costs, attorney costs, and liability assessments in accidents involving vertical transportation equipment can be costly and time-consuming, all owners and facilities managers should be familiar with safety tests and inspections required by local and national code authorities. Owners and managers should verify that these inspections are current and that inspection certificates are readily available for review by the appropriate authorities.
Today, several remote monitoring systems provide valuable information on the operating status of elevator and escalator systems without requiring the maintenance technician to physically check the equipment. These remote monitoring systems can provide real-time information, including the operating status of each unit, fault monitoring, and even troubleshooting information. This information can help a contract maintenance service provider or in-house staff maintenance personnel perform their routine maintenance duties and can assist the owners and facilities managers in managing the assets of the facility.
Remote monitoring systems are available directly from the major elevator manufacturers. These systems provide varying degrees of monitoring capabilities specifically for their control systems. In addition, third-party remote monitoring systems have the capability of linking and communicating with all of the typical manufacturers’ control systems found on academic campuses. These web-based systems provide monitoring results that can be transmitted to a central facilities management location. In addition, they can provide automatic paging or email notification of faults to maintenance personnel, reducing unit downtime. This is especially beneficial in campus environments in which units are spread out over a significant geographic area or include remote campuses in other cities by providing the ability to link all units back to a central facilities management location. In these situations, the monitoring technology provides operating information and status of each unit. This enables maintenance personnel to fully utilize available time in the performance of preventive maintenance by saving time that would otherwise be lost in determining whether units are even running. Because these systems are web-based, owners and facilities managers can access them anywhere. Some systems are even capable of maintaining parts inventories and alerting the manager when reordering and restocking of parts is required.
Even with the “best” preventive maintenance control plan, owners and facilities managers eventually want or need to upgrade older equipment. The reasons to modernize existing equipment include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) to increase system reliability, (2)to plan for system/component obsolescence, (3) to reduce energy consumption, (4) to incorporate current life safety code and accessibility requirements, and (5) to increase traffic handling ability.
- Increase Reliability. Existing elevators and escalators that have reached the end of their useful service life break down frequently, and parts become increasingly difficult or impossible to find. Modernizing this equipment restores reliability to like-new condition.
- System / Component Obsolescence. System obsolescence is rapidly changing the way institutions need to manage their vertical transportation systems. The speed at which technology is changing in terms of electronic components, motor-drive technology, machine technology, etc., requires changes in capital expense planning. Traditional expectations of equipment life are no longer accurate due to the speed at which microprocessor technology is changing and repair/replacement parts become unavailable. As a result, capital planning must reflect this reduction in service life to ensure reliable, safe operation of the elevator systems.
- Reduce Energy Consumption. Older hydraulic power units, geared traction hoist machines, and escalators utilize outdated technology that is not as energy efficient as modern equipment. A comprehensive modernization should include replacement of obsolete components with new energy-efficient power units and AC hoist motors, improving asset value in lieu of replacement with like equipment that attempts to match the old equipment.
- Incorporate Current Code and Accessibility Requirements. Periodic changes to the ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators, ASME A117.1, and the ADA have brought about new requirements for elevators and escalators to improve and enhance the safety and accessibility of these systems for the riding public. Although generally not retroactive, any elevator or escalator modernization program must comply with these code changes.
- Increase Traffic Handling Ability. The group control systems on older elevators are inefficient compared with modern microprocessor-based controls. Replacing older relay logic–based control systems with new microprocessor control systems often results in a 25 to 40 percent reduction in waiting times as well as substantially increased reliability, the ability to easily add security features, special accessibility features such as infrared call registration for the mobility impaired, and more.
Typically, modernizations at academic institutions are funded via grants or student fees, so opportunity is limited for a “phased” modernization of any given elevator, escalator, or building. As a result, proper equipment selection for modernization requires careful planning and decision making to ensure that the completed modernization represents a long-term, reliable, and maintainable solution.
Proper selection of the equipment, including replacement or reconditioning of the existing traction hoist machine, replacement of the existing hydraulic power unit, controller, drive unit, door operator, fixtures, and so on, and replacement or reconditioning of the escalator, is critical to achieve these goals.
When existing relay logic elevator and escalator controllers are replaced with modern microprocessor-based controllers, a service technician with more specialized training is needed for proper maintenance. These controllers, whether supplied by major manufacturers or “open architecture” third-party suppliers, require a diagnostic device for accurate troubleshooting and repair. Open architecture control systems generally incorporate these diagnostics within the controller itself, whereas systems from major manufacturers may require a “plug-in” service tool, which should be purchased as part of the elevator package.
Beginning with the introduction of microprocessor-based elevator controllers in the 1980s, the major manufacturers created a stigma with owners and facilities managers regarding maintenance and maintainability of their controllers when they coined the term “proprietary.” This was quickly echoed by the independent elevator companies and service providers with allegations that these systems were not maintainable by any company other than the original installing company, and these claims remain prevalent today. This brought about the rapid development of open architecture, so-called “non-proprietary” control systems for low- and medium-rise applications that could be more easily maintained by qualified independent service providers and institutional service technicians. As a word of caution, it should be noted that the controls and motor drive systems on the market from the independent manufacturers may be more susceptible to obsolescence, given their lower production numbers over those of the major manufacturers—which can impact ability to maintain the equipment long-term. As a result, care should be taken when selecting a supplier of open architecture control systems to ensure that the product selected has a reliable track record along with comprehensive manufacturer technical support for problem resolution.
It is true that the microprocessor products of this period required sophisticated diagnostic tools, access codes, and training available only from the equipment manufacturer. However, this was also true of the most sophisticated solid-state systems that immediately preceded this first generation of microprocessor controllers. Furthermore, it is true that the current generation of sophisticated “destination dispatch” microprocessor controls for major metropolitan high-rise office buildings still require sophisticated diagnostics and training.
In reality, the term “non-proprietary” is a misnomer as even the third-party “open architecture” control products typically supplied by independent elevator companies in low- and mid-rise academic and commercial buildings are, in their root programming, proprietary. The low- and moderate-rise controllers supplied by the major manufacturers as well as the open architecture products provided by third-party suppliers incorporate built-in digital diagnostic displays that are integrated with the controller. These displays provide diagnostic, fault, and adjustment codes, which, when cross-referenced to the controller maintenance manual, allow for effective troubleshooting and maintenance, and thus they are maintainable by any qualified service provider. These diagnostics displays also provide the necessary access to allow all statutory periodic safety tests to be performed.
Complete modernization of any vertical transportation system can be quite expensive, often costing as much or more than the initial installation. For this reason, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is to be accomplished in the modernization program, not only from an elevator or escalator standpoint but also from the standpoint of related building work necessary for code compliance and acceptance by building officials upon completion. Part 8, Section 8.7 of ASME A17.1/CSA B44-07 outlines the requirements for alterations, repairs, replacement, and maintenance of elevators and escalators.
Current accessibility guidelines dictate the height of car and hall call buttons, the requirements for Braille plates, and visual and audible signals in the car and elevator lobby. Elevators installed before 1980 were not equipped with any accessibility features. Some of these elevators have subsequently been upgraded to meet the requirements of the ADA or Section E of the Canadian B44 elevator code; however, other units still have not been upgraded.
Modernization of existing elevator and escalator systems may also require compliance with certain changes in the building code, electrical code, and/or NFPA that have occurred since the building was originally constructed. In some cases, these changes can be very expensive.
Independent Elevator ConsultantsTop
Impartial, objective assistance regarding elevator and escalator issues is available through independent elevator consultants. Owners and facilities managers utilize elevator consultants to gain a broader understanding of the purchase, installation, maintenance, performance evaluation, and modernization of elevator and escalator systems. These specialists have varying backgrounds, abilities, and skills within their respective practices, such as design, modernization, maintenance evaluation, and litigation. Active consulting firms have contacts within the elevator industry who are valuable in solving problems should they arise. Always remember, however, to check the past performance of consultants and their experience with similar types of projects before contracting for services.
Elevators, escalators, and other types of vertical transportation equipment are an integral part of all multistory buildings. Ensuring these systems are safe and reliable is, in large part, the responsibility of the owner and the facilities manager. Resources available to support this effort are readily available from the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ), which is responsible for oversight of code-required statutory periodic inspections, qualified service providers, and independent third-party consultants.
Additional resources are available to owners, facilities managers, and in-house staff maintenance technicians from Elevator World, Inc., P.O. Box 6507, Mobile, AL 36660 USA, or via phone at 251-479-4514, or toll-free at 1-800-730-5093. Suggested publications include the following:
Elevator & Escalator Maintenance for Building Managers, 2nd ed. 2006. Mobile, AL: Elevator World, Inc.
Elevator Industry Field Employees’ Safety Handbook. 2020. National Elevator Industry, Inc. Field Employee Safety Committee. Mobile, AL. Elevator World, Inc. (available in English and Spanish).
Elevator World Educational Package and Reference Library, Vols. 1-3. 1990. Mobile, AL: Elevator World, Inc.
Elevator World Monthly Magazine. Mobile, AL: Elevator World, Inc.
Lewis, Bernard T. Facility Manager’s Operation and Maintenance Handbook. 1999. New York: McGraw Hill.
McCain, Zack. Inspection Handbook, 7th ed. 2019. Mobile, AL: Elevator World, Inc.
NAEC Certified Elevator Technician Certification Handbook and Application. Adopted August 6, 2013, last updated December 14, 2020. National Association of Elevator Contractors. https://www.naec.org/images/certification/CET_Applicant_Handbook.pdf
Strakosch, George R., and Robert S. Caporale, eds. The Vertical Transportation Handbook, 4th ed. 2010. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.