An Overview of Elevators' Periodic Inspection From the Field
Annual (once-a-year) periodic inspections entered our lives to identify if elevators used to transport people and goods operate properly without risking the safety of life and property, and to eliminate the dangers caused by user error and external interventions. At Ersan Asansör, we have been performing such controls on installed elevators and at our in-company trainings. So, we think we are not a stranger to the regulation. Thus, it didn’t take too long to understand that we weren't wrong, when field inspections got underway.
After periodic inspection lists were made, A-type inspection bodies started field inspections and prepared the reports. Three different tags were defined at the end of periodic control results. These are:
Red tag: Yellow tag
Yellow tag: Defective
Yellow tag: Free from defect
Taking each elevator’s installation year as a basis, lack points were reported within the direction of the related standard's requirements, and necessary corrections were requested within the limited time period. Therefore, right after the reports were sent to the companies, the processes started at companies. Although we prefer teams with years of field experience that we call "experts" for monitoring the inspections, we have realized that there are significant differences between the lack points identified during the inspections and the points written in the reports. That is, an issue that some auditor engineers put to the fore may be ignored by a different engineer or, in another case, deficiencies that are categorized as major mistakes for some can be found not worth mentioning for others. When such problems are seen consecutive, we draw some conclusions while identifying the source of the problem. These are the facts:
- Articles in control forms are open to comments; for instance, issues like safety gears equipment, buffers, technical features of control systems, electrical panels and other items
- Sense of equity is not implemented in identifying deficiencies because of the diversity in elevators; different styles of installation by different companies, different material types,
- Auditor engineer is not experienced (short orientation period, etc), or auditor has no field experience or adequate standard training,
- Company supervisors take advantage of inexperienced auditors, which causes deficient inspections that overshadow the identification of serious deficiencies,
- Criteria are determined through monitoring instead of measurement because of the lack of necessary equipment used during inspections. Lighting audit without luxmeter, overspeed governor test without tachometer, counterweight balance test without ampere meter, etc.
- There are complexities in standards because of the uncertainty of installation year; when installation year of the plant was recorded older than the original year, problems and complexities occur, since the installation year of the elevator means a lot when identifying deficiencies in the category of major mistakes. For instance, while an interior door deficiency of an elevator was a major mistake in 1995 and later, it was not a deficiency before 1995. Several similar points can be added here.
Beside technical problems:
Issues like failing to inform companies or informing companies too late (last-minute calls for audits) during the planning of field audits, improper guidance at tests and controls because of the lack of teams at audits, resistance building managers show at audits and conflicts in audit costs made the process much harder.
Such complex situations attracted the attention of not only companies, but also audit companies. Objections raised against reports were signs of the wrong path. Elevator commissions that were reunited at the meetings held in professional associations and conferences held with inspection bodies and sector representatives came to a consensus on preparing a shared list, and perform the controls within this direction as a first thing to do for the solution of the problem. Moreover, in this way, the order of importance (tag colors and error classification) was revealed open to the ideas of companies.
At this period, sharing a common list decreased the number of problems a little bit, and meant that everyone was speaking the same language, but the increase in the number of inspection bodies and when they were preferred at municipality bids, unfortunately, made us go back to the drawing board.
When municipalities started to choose alternative accredited companies to authorize for elevators' periodic controls, this led to the revision of the process once again. Audit programs of these companies, contact with newly recruited personnel and changes in reporting techniques caused complexities for a short time. (This issue was solved within a short time).
One of the problems felt in the same period was that a new audit company cancelled the existing list of deficiencies mentioned in the reports from the transition period and wanted to audit again. This meant extra cost and new deficiencies. Therefore, written requests, commitments given and changes in prices caused serious issues. Despite the content in accordance with the offer prepared within the scope of deficiencies written in the previous report, it could not be possible to get a green tag as a result of the second inspection carried out by the related audit or at the follow-up audit. Additional cost also caused problems with building management.
For instance, we participate in the audit meeting for the elevator whose inspection payment was made by building management and the inspection was carried out with our audit company. Although we identified deficiencies that were not in the report, we then realized they were still not reflected in the report. The process of submitting quotes started by the building management at the end of submission of reports to buildings. Here we have two options. We either offer a price in accordance with the report (despite the lack of deficiencies we know) or discuss a price over identified additional deficiencies. The important detail that is challenging for us is that buildings evaluating the offer mostly focus on the cost. For this reason, prices are offered generally by taking deficiencies written in the report into consideration, and the next audit never comes to a conclusion because of extra requirements.
Parties gained experience out of all these problems and improvements on correcting the deficiencies for next audits continued. Parties developed their communication with each other to manage these processes more professionally and decreased problems day by day. Goal-oriented audit and service started to be carried out with the contribution of the Ministry of Industry and sector shareholders' extraordinary efforts.
The term blue tag, which was not in the first regulation but then added later, contributed to the solution of problems, brought alternative solutions to buildings' physical problems and overshadowed the closing of elevators within the "slightly defective" scope. The obligation of location inspection of newly installed elevators is an extremely positive step, as it means the elimination of several problems for the elevator company.
Although it is hard to say that problems seen in the processes are completely over, it is clear that the situation is better than it was compared to the first days. It should be appreciated that these audits started when both elevator companies and audit companies were not fully ready. So, experiencing such kinds of problems were not surprising.
Here are my suggestions for improving the services:
- making periodic audit planning together with the companies and saving extra time,
- increasing the orientation periods on personnel proficiency for audit companies and providing frequent field audits,
- submitting deficiency reports to the related persons as fast as possible,
- performing periodic controls every other year,
- Carrying out more frequent field monitoring and examining the buildings before inspection activities,
- identifying and dismissing incompetent persons who influence the sector negatively, and preventing unfair competition,
- providing more reasonable time limits for correcting deficiencies (giving a 2-month time limit for red tag lightened the process significantly)
- complying with the conditions mentioned in the regulation by the audit (inspection expert), audits with necessary materials/equipment and capacity to use them,
- informing the companies before the standard and implementation changes that will be offered at the audit
Dear colleagues can add other suggestions to these examples.
The problems we experienced in 2012 were eliminated significantly in 2018. All shareholders will and should contribute to this situation with a public service mentality. As I mentioned before, elevators are directly related to the human life, and nothing is more important than our health. We shouldn’t abuse the goodwill and trust of those people, and we should continuously improve ourselves professionally. The fact that external institutions control our elevators increases our motivation and efforts. At Ersan Elevator, we will continue to make contributions.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily bind anyone.
“TO MOVE IS TO LIVE”