Choosing a Reliable Lift Maintenance Company | 8 Must-ask Questions
Sound Advice on Choosing a Lift Maintenance, Servicing and Repair Provider for Building Owners and Responsible Persons
Picking a lift maintenance provider, to help you maintain a lift, and stay within the Law, can be as easy as Googling ‘lift maintenance’, then choosing the first company you see.
But, you might want to pause before you do that.
That’s because not all lift maintenance companies are the same.
Although all lift companies will be broadly similar – they’ll all maintain, service and repair lifts, just like everybody in the lift industry – they’ll vary enormously in their expertise, experience and structure, so choosing the wrong one could tie you into a nightmare contract for several years.
For instance, one lift company might mainly handle residential buildings, whilst another might specialise in maintaining industrial lifting equipment for warehousing. A third might concentrate their business within just fifty miles of their office, or even struggle to handle a certain size of contract.
Even more disturbing is, that some lift companies ‘pad out’ their geographical coverage, by sub-contracting work to smaller maintenance crews, with varying training and knowledge. So you might not even get the company you thought you were employing.
And that’s why it’s worth taking a bit of extra time to make sure there’s a good fit between you and the provider.
We spoke to Steve Watkins, our Senior Regional Sales Manager for Pickerings Lifts, to find out the best way to evaluate and make the right choice of lift maintenance provider.
1) How many maintenance service visits do I need?
“When choosing a lift service and maintenance company the first question most people ask themselves is, ‘how many maintenance service visits do I need?’
The answer is deceptively simple. The more you expect the lift to do, the more preventative maintenance you should allocate to it.
It common sense really… the more preventative maintenance you have done across the year, the lower the chance of either direct breakdown, with the ensuing repair costs, or of failing the LOLER examination, with the subsequent need to for remedial action.
Most businesses conduct preventative maintenance at least quarterly, but the number of lift maintenance visits needed can be many more, dependent on whether the lifts are in continuous use, carrying full capacities, or the larger the vertical travel.”
To discuss planned preventative maintenance in more depth, call 0800 085 3211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and talk to an experienced account manager.
So, you’ve decided on the amount of maintenance that you require, and you are going to get three quotes from likely lift maintenance companies.
Here is the next question you should ask…
2) What type of maintenance do you offer?
“There are two types of maintenance visit… Traditional and Modular/Modern.
During a Traditional maintenance visit, the lift engineer will take an allocated space of time – usually at least an hour – to fully inspect, test, service, lubricate, and if needed, make any adjustments to your lifts and lifting equipment. This helps prevent break-downs and call-outs, and increases the lifespan of your lift.
A Modular or Modern maintenance visit is often cheaper, but is a false economy, because the number of genuine maintenance visits will be “topped up” with short inspection visits that often only last a few minutes. In essence, they don’t help prevent breakdowns.
Where budget allows, we would always recommend Traditional maintenance. This is because it is active maintenance that helps the lift engineer identify and prevent any issues before many breakdowns and expensive repairs occur, and can often save you money in the long term.”
3) What health and safety certificates, ISO certificates, trade body memberships and insurances do you have?
“As you would expect with lift maintenance being governed by legislation, health and safety, training and governance of procedures is paramount.
Please, whatever else you decide, double check that the lift maintenance company you are in discussion with, has relevant documentation to back up their services.
You might want to consider if they have:
SMAS Workplace accreditation
Alcumus Safe Contractor accreditation
Waste Carrier licence
Working at Height and Underground insurance
Public Liability insurance
Professional Liability insurance
Contractors All Risks insurance
LEIA (Lift and Elevator Industry Association)
Each one of these accreditations, memberships and insurances adds an extra layer of certainty to your decision.
4) Are your lift service engineers well trained and directly employed?
“The number of directly-employed engineers and the length of time the lift company has been in continuous business, reveal a lot about their levels of training quality, experience, and versatility.
A good independent lift maintenance company will directly employ their own lift engineers, because that way, it’s easier to ensure a uniform level of training across the lift company’s geographical area.
You often find smaller, more localised lift companies, with a limited work-force, sub-contracting out customer contracts to other companies. This can be a recipe for disaster, with the contracting company losing control over training and accountability of engineers. In effect, they are reliant on the sub-contractor doing the work correctly, on-time, and to standard. If the sub-contractor doesn’t, then this can become a major bone of contention between the customer and themselves. This also applies to trusting the sub-contractor to be able to respond to emergencies and obtain any necessary replacement parts.
At the opposite end of the scale, the larger, more corporate, lift companies are tied into their own supply chains. And, whilst this means the lift engineers are guaranteed to have the training and spare parts for any maintenance, they are, often, tied into using high cost versions.
A good independent lift company, will directly employ its service engineers, ensuring their vans are stocked with all the necessary lift parts. And the engineers themselves, will be fully trained on most makes of lifts. They’ll be fully up-to-date on the latest technologies, and be authorised to use universal fit spares that won’t cost you the earth.”
5) Do you have experience of working on the type of lifts I have?
“Any reputable lift company should be up front and honest about what they can and can’t support. And any competent lift provider should have experience and expertise in the repair and maintenance of a variety of lifts, control systems and other lifting equipment, with most engineers being multi-skilled these days.
But there’s a wide variety of lifts… passenger lifts (hydraulic, Traction and MRL), dumbwaiters, platform lifts, scissor lifts, goods lifts, dock levellers, disability lifts and mobility hoists… to name a few. So, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the lift company you are in talks with, will have vast experience on your types of lifts.
Always ask for examples of customers they’ve dealt with in the past, because positive feedback from their existing customers will give you the confidence to do business with them”
6) Are you local/national? And what is your response time?
“The location of regional branches, and the ability to call out an engineer swiftly when you need them is essential to taking on a new lift maintenance provider.
A lift company based close to your location ensures the engineers know your area.
Again, any good lift company will have an engineer within 60 minutes of your premises. Surprisingly, this can be quite a distance where motorways are concerned.”
7) Do you provide new lifts, refurbishment and modernisation services?
“Inevitably, age and usage affect the condition of your lifts, and this often determines the number of services and preventative maintenance visits required on-site.
A good lift engineer will keep your lifts going for as long as possible, but even a fully comprehensive contract is not a modernisation contract, so there will come a time when a lift is reaching the end of its working life and you need to consider upgrading systems or even replacing the entire installation.”
8) What’s included in your lift maintenance contract cost?
“Always ask about your options.
Usually, a lift maintenance provider will provide a number of different options. These are the sort of things that might save you money in the long run, but cost more in the short term.
For instance… are repairs included in the maintenance costs? Or is it purely preventative maintenance? Does the contract offer 24/7/365 call-out? Great for a large out-of-town retailer, hospital, care home or Police Head Quarters, but hardly necessary for a normal commercial building with daytime hours. Does your maintenance visit take a full hour of maintenance, or is it a thirty minute visit, with thirty minutes for paperwork? How quickly can spares be delivered from the original manufacturer? Do they use their own parts or generic? Do they keep a stock of components on their vans and at branch offices?
Sometimes a low-cost contract cost can mean larger repair charges across the lifespan of the lift contract – so you need to ask.
Remember, always ask. It’s free to ask.”
Not all lift maintenance providers offer the same service, but by asking a few simple questions, you can ensure you are making the wisest choice available to you.
There are numerous advantages to devising and implementing a well-organised program of preventative maintenance – with particular emphasis on how this can aid in the smooth running of your lifts and lifting equipment, reduce overall maintenance costs, increase their lifespan and help you to comply with your legal obligations under LOLER and PUWER.
Contact us now on 0800 085 3211 to arrange a consultation with one of our representatives to establish a preventative maintenance program for your loading systems, lifts, escalators and mobility equipment.
Click on the link below to find out more about the planned lift maintenance, servicing and repair options offered by Pickerings Lifts: