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Why lift maintenance is so important

23 January 2020

It's important to regularly maintain your lift. According to David Pickering, associate director at ILECS, for both functioning and legal reasons, having a well-maintained lift doesn’t have to break the bank and can in fact be cost-saving for you.

To shed some light on why lift maintenance is so important, Cleaning Matters caught up with David Pickering, who has more than 20 years' experience within the industry. Starting as an apprentice, David then worked as a senior engineer in Dublin, before moving to consultancy in the UK in 2002. He has a Masters in Lift Engineering from the University of Northampton, and is a member of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE).

How important is lift maintenance for ensuring a reliable lift?

I sometimes use the analogy of a car (or more specifically a taxi) when I am explaining lifts to clients. It is often easier to explain the functions of various lift components in a language more easily understood by most people.

Like a car, a lift generally features:

  • A motor (machine)
  • Brakes
  • Electronic controller
  • User controls
  • Doors.

Some of these are considered consumable items, which require replacing on a routine basis throughout the life of the equipment. For example, tyres, oil and filters on a car, and rollers, oil and ropes on a lift.

Similarly with cars, lifts come in different designs, from a variety of manufacturers of differing levels of quality and reputation. And like with a car, we expect to be able to enter a lift, and immediately travel to our required destination simply, quickly and reliably.

Keeping to this analogy, a lift, throughout its life should require regular servicing, routine inspections (statutory or otherwise) and have a programme of planned preventative maintenance in place.

So, the first port of call for having a reliable lift is to adopt an ongoing maintenance plan?

Essentially, yes. Although, having a programme of planned preventative maintenance in place does more than ensure your lift continues to function properly. It also covers important safety and regulatory issues that you are required to comply with. This is in order to satisfy your legal obligations as a building operator or owner.

Regulations can apply to residential blocks as well as office buildings, including:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act
  • The Lift Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

And making sure that your lift is in a good and safe working order is essential to ensuring compliance.

How much maintenance will a lift require?

Just like a car, the extent of maintenance a lift requires will differ from lift to lift. It will depend upon several factors, including:

  • The quality of the original equipment
  • Age
  • Level of use
  • Type of use.

In a similar operating environment, a well installed heavily engineered lift will generally require a lower level of preventative maintenance than a value engineered installation due to the more robust nature of its components. Similarly, as a lift becomes older and components become worn and aged, it is likely to require a little more attention than a new lift, in order to safeguard against failures and reliability issues.

A new electric traction lift can last for approximately 20 years. However, ensuring that it remains reliable for that length of time is down to a suitable level of maintenance being applied throughout its full operating life.

What types of lift maintenance are there?

Most lift maintenance contractors will offer a number of different maintenance packages. Selecting a suitable plan from a contractor can often be difficult.

There are a wide variety of contract types to consider, each one with its own set of inclusions (and sometimes more importantly, exclusions). You will rarely find two contractors offering identical plans.

The correct maintenance package can:

  • Help to prevent future lift failures
  • Ensure you comply with your legal obligations
  • Be cost-saving.

Choosing the most appropriate maintenance package for your lift can not only help to prevent future lift failures but can also save you considerably more than simply the difference between the cheapest and most expensive option.

What’s the best maintenance package to get?

At ILECS, we always recommend that you seek professional advice before selecting the maintenance plan for your lift. A lift consultant can

  • Evaluate your lift’s age and condition
  • Establish the best maintenance option to save you money
  • Keep your lift operating reliably, legally and safely.

Is it more cost-saving to have a basic maintenance package?

While a cheaper basic package may at first glance appear most attractive, this can often prove to be false economy. Charges for replacement parts, which may not be included within a basic package can increase the total cost way above that, which would have been paid for the mid or higher end policy. 

This is especially true if the lift to be maintained is of an age or state of wear, where components are likely to be reaching the end of their service life. The situation can often be aggravated further due to an insufficient number of preventative maintenance visits offered under the basic contract. Fewer maintenance visits can mean fewer opportunities to:

  • Identify worn parts
  • Adjust ageing components
  • Prevent future failures.

If your lift is at an age or state of wear where the components are likely to be reaching the end of their service life, it’s even more important to source a bespoke plan that covers your individual needs.