Everybody depends on the safe and reliable operations of their building’s vertical transportation system. To ensure consistent operation, it is of critical importance to the property’s owners to hire a competent elevator maintenance company. Elevator maintenance can be provided by manufacturers, independent contractors, or by the onsite facilities team. It is a complicated decision, as the best choice is not automatically the company that installed the system.
These days, many new elevators run on proprietary software that requires specialized tools for proper maintenance that only the manufacturer can provide. This means you will have limited maintenance service options and generally will have to pay a premium for elevator maintenance. One advantage of using the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) maintenance is the ability to provide spare parts quickly and reduce overall downtime for repairs. In addition, with OEM maintenance you deal with the company that designed the equipment and subsequently knows it the best. Usually, OEM contracts are the most risk-free choice but you may pay a premium.
Manufacturer Elevator Maintenance
Other elevator companies actively pursue maintenance contracts for equipment they did not manufacture. The service contracts they offer are comparable to service contracts you would consider with the actual manufacturer of the equipment. An advantage of using another company may be to save money or obtain better service in a specific geographic area. Most of these outfits offer a variety of discounts for contracts covering multiple buildings with the same ownership. Independent Elevator Maintenance Independent elevator maintenance companies are located in most areas of the country. They often charge less for their maintenance programs than manufacturers. When considering an independent you will want to investigate their level of technical expertise and ability to provide spare parts to avoid extended downtimes.
Today, many large organizations such as universities and medical facilities provide in-house maintenance for elevator equipment to reduce overall costs. The decision to self-maintain elevator equipment should be based on economics and the availability of skilled labor. Other factors to consider include your ability to obtain spare parts and manage major repairs. In addition, you will also need the necessary infrastructure to process and react to customer questions or complaints. Due to the increased liability exposure and technical expertise needed to maintain the elevator equipment properly, we recommend using other maintenance options. Many elevator companies will not service elevator equipment that is being maintained by non-certified elevator mechanics.
What type of maintenance agreement will work best for your elevators?
Knowing the different types of elevator contract options can greatly increase your chances of saving money and finding a maintenance agreement that meets your building’s requirements. The more risk you are willing to assume, the lower the cost of services will be. Most elevator companies offer four types of elevator maintenance contracts. These contracts offer you a range of coverage options and discount opportunities.
What is a Full Maintenance Contract? (FMC)
A full maintenance contract is written to allow an elevator service company to take total responsibility for the elevator equipment identified in the maintenance agreement. This contract acts like an insurance policy and allows the manager to budget total yearly costs and eliminate concerns relating to elevator liability and exposure to claims in the event of accidents or injuries. Liability is limited because the maintenance contractor assumes all responsibility and determines the amount of service visits required to keep the elevator system operating safely. If an accident should occur, the elevator maintenance company may be responsible for defending itself against accident claims and will exhaust every effort to ensure a safe operating condition.
What is a Parts, Oil, and Grease Contract? (POG)
A POG contract lists specific items of equipment that are not covered in the contract such as controllers, elevator machines, motor-generator sets, and cables, etc. A POG contract will only have value if the contract clearly stipulates the work to be covered and the parts to be supplied including frequency of examinations and trouble calls to be answered. POG agreements also generate additional paperwork and the property manager must coordinate with the maintenance provider on what is covered in the contract and what will be done under repair orders at a later date. Many maintenance companies are no longer offering this type of contract due to the increase costs of solid state components. Usually, maintenance companies offering this type of agreement will provide your property with lower monthly charges than the price of a full maintenance contract but the coverage will also be proportionately less.
What is an Oil and Grease (OG) or Examination & Lubrication Contract?
OG contracts include lubrication of moving parts and minor adjustments on a regularly scheduled basis. When additional services are needed, the mechanic reports potential problems to the property manager who then schedules all repairs to be paid for by the building’s owner. The cost for the OG contract is relatively low, but when you include repairs, the entire yearly cost is usually much higher and more complicated to budget. OG agreements also generate additional paperwork, as the property manager must coordinate with the maintenance provider on all repairs. Liability exposure to claims in the event of accidents or injuries are even greater than a POG contract because the owner is responsible for having parts repaired and replaced. Customer satisfaction with this type of agreement is usually very low.
What is a Survey and Report Contract?
Coverage under a “survey and report” contract consists of quarterly, semi-annual, or annual inspections of all major equipment components. The inspection does not include maintenance, repair work, or the dismantling of equipment that necessitates the presence of elevator mechanics. Maintenance or replacement recommendations may be completed by the owner or by selected contractors under the property manager’s coordination. This type of contract also makes it extremely difficult for a building owner to avoid liability if an accident should occur.
What you don’t know could cost you a bundle: Understanding maintenance contract terms and conditions.
Once you have decided which maintenance contract will work best for your property you will need to find an elevator company. The company you select will then perform maintenance services under the type of contract you have specified. But your troubles can begin when you do not understand what is not covered and how those services will be billed and what steps can be taken to control overall maintenance costs.
Important questions to ask a potential maintenance provider.
Before you accept any maintenance agreement your service company should answer the following questions:
- When does overtime apply under the contract?
- What are the differences between overtime trouble calls and overtime repairs as they relate to the contract?
- Is travel time a consideration because of location or union agreement?
- If maintenance is missed or incomplete are you entitled to a refund for that month?
- Do trouble calls count as a regular monthly service call?
- What is the response time for a trapped passenger?
- What is the availability of spare parts?
Important facts on maintenance term years and automatic renewal clauses.
Elevator companies bill in advance, at the beginning of each month. Full Maintenance Contracts are also similar to insurance policies protecting you from unexpected major repair bills. Owners will also be required to pay in advance at the beginning of each month. Some maintenance providers are even going as far as requiring payment for 90 days in advance via electronic funds transfer. The standard elevator contract usually covers a 5-year term with a termination clause requiring 90-days prior written notice. These terms can be modified by reducing the length of the contract and eliminating automatic renewal clauses. Typically short-term contracts will provide the building owner with more chances to switch maintenance contractors. The down side of this strategy is that the cost of a short-term contract will most likely be higher.