Knowing when its time for an upgrade
The implication of “elevator modernization” is often associated with an aesthetic upgrade to the interior finishes of the elevator cab. Although important, the aesthetic updating of the cab is only a modicum of the modernization process. Upgrades of the mechanical and control components form the substance of the same project, and are the focus of this discussion.
In principle, a “full service” maintenance contract should allow an owner to retain an elevator system continuously. Proper preventive maintenance and repair should protect an elevator from deterioration. However, factors such as obsolescence and code compliance do lead to major modernization projects. Although each scenario is independent of another and there are many variables to consider, major modernization infers the replacement of most control and mechanical systems, virtually everything in the machine room and hoistway.
One of the greatest obstacles faced by an owner or property manager
concerning a modernization project is creating the initial plan outlining
what can stay, and what needs be replaced. With certain types of equipment,
especially gearless hoist machines, major components are often retained
and refurbished rather than replaced. Proper advice is crucial at
this stage and will certainly play a role in the total cost of the
project, as well as the goals that will be achieved in the end.
COST AND SAVINGS
Long-term financial savings are rarely achieved in the lowering of maintenance service premiums after the completion of the modernization. In fact, monthly charges often increase after an elevator modernization despite the reduction in labour to the service contractor. The consumption of energy is where savings can materialize. Studies have illustrated a reduction in energy costs by as much as 30 % and more after modernization. These energy savings are realized by newer technology drive systems that utilize less operating energy and at the same time emit less heat, thus reducing machine room cooling costs.
There are literally hundreds of types of systems and every building
has a different amount of traffic, so only with a physical inspection
of the elevator system by qualified individuals with years of experience
can a modernization plan be developed. As complete elevator modernizations
cost from $85,000 to $175,000 (per elevator depending on the type
of system), a long-term plan is absolutely crucial to prepare for
this capital expenditure.
Michael Morgenstern is a partner at National Elevator Consulting