By Cory Hussey
As a facility manager, you probably already know that elevator maintenance contracts can be as complicated as the technology behind the equipment. Even simple, low-rise elevators have boards, buttons, door equipment, hydraulic components, other sensors and devices needing preventative maintenance and periodic testing, cleaning, lubrication, and adjustment.
Since there’s a lot riding on the reliability and effectiveness of your maintenance plan, you need to make sure you thoroughly understand what the agreement states and how much liability you’re responsible for.
Why do you need a maintenance plan?
An elevator maintenance plan is less of a suggestion and more like an absolute must-have. Beyond the state laws that require annual testing to ensure you’re in good operating condition, there is too much risk involved to be without some kind of routine service plan.
This is because elevators are made up of hundreds of parts that all need to be well maintained in order for the entire system to run smoothly. From the elevator car to the control unit, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes that involves very complicated engineering. A maintenance plan is your way of letting a professional technician take over when it comes to the mechanics of the system while you focus on your business.
In addition to satisfying state requirements and taking care of the technical aspects of the system, an elevator maintenance plan will help you:
- Avoid costly repairs
- Keep your passengers safe
- Pass required state inspections
- Operate in accordance with applicable codes
What’s included in an elevator maintenance plan?
Elevator maintenance agreements are an investment in the performance and longevity of your elevator systems. Routine maintenance helps prevent the effects of wear and tear and possible breakdowns that could be very costly for you and very inconvenient for your riders.
One thing to understand is that elevator maintenance plans are not one-size-fits-all. The one you need for your building requirements will depend on a few things:
- How many elevators are in your building
- What kind of elevators they are
- The type of facility they are in
- The condition of your elevators
- The level of cost risk you’re willing to take on
Based on the above, a professional elevator technician will be able to tell you the best plan for your systems after they perform a detailed evaluation. These evaluations are usually free of charge. In some cases, repairs might be needed first so that the elevators can be eligible for a maintenance contract.
To give you a general idea of the contract types, below are two of the most common elevator maintenance agreements:
Full Maintenance Contract: A full maintenance agreement acts like an insurance policy, since your elevator service company will take all responsibility for your equipment. This will give you better peace of mind and will have less liability and less risk in terms of cost. These contracts are sometimes known as “All-Inclusive” agreements.
Since you’re covered for more under this contract type, it’s easier to budget total yearly costs as opposed to unexpected repairs popping up now and then.
Limited Maintenance Contract: Limited maintenance agreements will typically include parts lubrication, safety testing and minor adjustments on a regularly scheduled basis. While that may sound like all you need, these contracts will have a lot of risk in terms of cost. Things like after-hours service, parts replacements and repairs usually aren’t covered, so you will be billed in addition to your existing service plan. Plus, you’re going to be more liable than you would be under a full maintenance agreement.
Limited maintenance plans will cost less upfront, but unforeseen repairs can end up being more expensive than a full maintenance contract. Bottom line: A quick emergency repair could end up costing you more than you realize.
Keep in mind that elevators don’t follow traditional 9 to 5 business hours, so the maintenance company you select should always take your emergency calls no matter the type of contract you have. And since your equipment is responsible for transporting people, you absolutely need to sign a contract with a company that has personnel on call 24/7/365.
Once you agree to a plan, you’ll be assigned a technician who will be responsible for all the routine maintenance on your equipment. The technician’s route should always be within close proximity of your location and they should never be overloaded with clients. If they are too far away or overloaded, you could run into delays getting your systems fixed, which could be costly and inconvenient in the event of an emergency.
Elevator technicians are advocates for routine maintenance — especially preventative maintenance — as the key to long-term, optimal performance. Because of its importance, service companies will usually work with you to develop an affordable plan that works for your equipment’s current condition, make, model, and usage.
The technology and engineering behind every elevator is incredibly complicated, which is why working with a professional is your best bet to make sure everything continues to run smoothly. Even if you never encounter an issue with your equipment, a maintenance plan will give you peace of mind that your elevators will always be covered in case a problem does happen.
Cory Hussey has been with Stanley Elevator for over 13 years and currently serves as COO and General Counsel. His focus is on business operations as well as all legal and financial matters. He also has experience with marketing strategy, risk management and safety, corporate finance, and managerial accounting. Cory earned his bachelor’s degree from Furman University, his JD from Suffolk University Law School, and his MBA from Babson College.