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Elevator maintenance experts talk about how to service lifts

ANALYSIS, Facilities Management, Market, Service lifts

Elevator maintenance experts talk about how to service lifts and what the market is like

The elevator market in the GCC is closely related to the overall construction market, according to experts. The industry in the region is showing an upturn, with business and enquiries on the rise.

Syed Shamsul Haq, general manager – elevators division, Al-Futtaim Engineering, says with the recent spike in construction activity, the elevator market is also picking up.

“The three main active markets are UAE, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with large-scale construction projects accompanied by corresponding demand for elevators and escalators,” says Haq.

According to him, KSA is currently the biggest market, with Qatar offering opportunities which are expected to grow over the next few years when projects are launched in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“In the UAE, many projects are under execution and new ones steadily announced, particularly in Abu Dhabi. The capital has provided for high-end equipment as well as architectural finishes with varied applications in projects. These are testing the capability of manufacturers and vendors,” adds Haq.

This view is also taken by Lea Lehtinen, director for marketing and service business, Kone. “The Arab Spring has influenced business. In some areas it is slower with projects put on hold, but other countries are booming.

Qatar is really growing rapidly, and KSA is a huge construction market. In UAE there are signs the market is picking up. At the moment it’s more positive here than in Europe,” explains Lehtinen.

Haq adds that Al-Futtaim Engineering is closely looking at KSA to take advantage of the huge market potential.

Lift Service
Maintaining elevators in the region, especially with the abundance of high-rise buildings, has never been more important. Elevator companies are aware of the responsibility they have in a country where skyscrapers are the norm rather than an exception.

According to Haq, the frequency of service depends upon the type of lift, capacity, usage and the number of floors in a building. “In newer models an odometer keeps track of the elevator usage so that a service call can be made when the elevator has been used a certain number of times. However, monthly periodic maintenance is recommended in general,” explains Haq.

Lehtinen mirrors this and adds that the starting point for defining a maintenance schedule is a thorough understanding of the customer’s needs and the specific equipment’s technical requirements and life cycle phase.

She expands on this point: “Some elevators might not need more than four or six maintenance visits a year, where others might need even 12 or more visits.”

General elevator maintenance checks, she says, involves the condition of all mechanical and electrical safety critical components, wear and tear, and as well as the aesthetics and appearance of the equipment.

Haq adds to this and says it also involves the inspection of safety features on the elevator, and cleaning and lubricating all components for optimum performance.

“There are three types of elevator contracts: oil & grease, which is the minimum level of maintenance required, with extra charges for all additional work; full maintenance, which includes call-backs as well as a preventive maintenance program with additional cost for spare parts; and comprehensive maintenance, which includes call-backs as well as a preventive maintenance program and spare parts,” explains Haq.

He continues with details on a routine maintenance check. It involves a thorough inspection of the equipment based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Necessary adjustments and servicing wherever required like cleaning the car tops, door mechanism and machine rooms to keep dust and grime from getting into the equipment are carried out.

Machine rooms are inspected to ensure that the drives are working properly. Different tests like levelling, door operation, ride quality, operation of buttons, signal fixtures, door sensors, interphone, alarm, and emergency landing device are also carried out.

Designer Build
Lehtinen says elevator firms often work with architects and consultants in the design phase of the building. She adds that in the construction stage, efficient and timely installation of the equipment is important to the builder to stay on schedule and minimise disruption.

“After all, it is in everyone’s interest to ensure smooth people flow in the building; tenants, end-users, building owners, and facility managers alike,” she adds.

Haq says this procedure is not generally required for standard elevators and small buildings. “But in case of large scale projects and customised elevators, it is crucial suppliers be involved at the design stage itself as there are often significant building design changes following the design development period. The impact on the transportation system need to be studied and corrected to accommodate those changes,” he explains.

Positive future
Haq is upbeat about the future and says: “The UAE market is slowly shrugging off the effects of the global downturn and should pick up steam in mid-2013. Recent research reports indicate more than $15bn worth of construction contracts are likely to be awarded this year in the UAE — an increase of 26.57% compared to last year.

The recent announcements of some impressive projects from Emaar and Nakheel are indications of the market bouncing back.”

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