Choosing what to replace and/or upgrade in your elevator modernization impacts your investment, the reliability and lifespan of your equipment, and your riders’ engagement. In this second in a three-part series, Kencor, Inc. guides you through how to get the best return for your dollar and bolster satisfaction for the long term.
The foundation of elevator modernization is function, then form
The real starting point in elevator modernization begins with the controller. A control system is a component of every elevator; controllers are operating units that signal and direct the equipment to function properly. The lifespan of a controller is between 20 to 30 years, but as technology rapidly advances, so the lifespan of this computerized center is shrinking. Modernization on controllers often necessitates changing door equipment and fixtures, as well. These components, from doors to the buttons and lights that we see in cabs, communicate electronically with controllers and influence the ride.
Many building owners mistakenly believe that modernization begins and ends with an aesthetic makeover for their elevator. Changing an elevator’s cab interior certainly attracts positive attention from riders and boosts users’ perceived comfort, but it may come at the expense of an overall improved ride if the modernization starts and stops there. Interior, aesthetic changes are rather a choice and often not a requirement; however, they increase rider satisfaction and opinions about the status of the equipment and the building.
Additional components to consider for modernization are the power unit for hydraulic elevators and the machine or motor for traction elevators. Each component represents a machine fundamental to the successful mechanics and operation of the equipment. Elevator companies can perform tests to evaluate power units and machines to check for their capability and efficiency.
Plan for change over time
Many building owners contact an elevator company with a quick implementation timeline in mind, but modernization requires a careful and coordinated approach to change. It’s understandable that building owners and riders are ready for timely project implementation when they choose elevator modernization. However, the scope of a modernization project is expansive and this can slow anticipated schedules. Elevator companies often require approximately 20 weeks to coordinate engineers, project managers, and equipment lead times. Additionally, an often overlooked and costly complication to modernization projects is the function and capability of other existing building systems, such as electrical wiring and fire safety. If these features are not updated to meet the requirements for elevator regulations, then they will require replacement, as well. Elevator companies can bring these issues to light, but the building owner will need to coordinate with others to effectively address the system, which can slow modernization.
Because of the magnitude of a modernization project, from its schedule to its components and cost, building owners should make choices with their elevator companies that promote their investment over the long-term. This means learning about the average lifespan of equipment and choosing brands that are known to perform well and longer. It’s important to know that price point and performance do not necessarily have a correlation in either direction. Building owners should assess their overhead costs and consider that higher up-front investment could mean lower operating costs later; they should also communicate their goals to their elevator company. Elevator modernization will always be a necessity as buildings and equipment age; guide your actions to address what’s essential to protect the safety of your riders, the performance of the elevator, and the preservation of the value to the equipment and building.