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Canada Not in Elevator Crisis, Local Expert Argues

Recently, Colin Perkel of The Canadian Press published an article about a study showing the fire department is responding to more elevator entrapments than ever before. Published across major Canadian media outlets, the article quoted an industry expert who claimed the industry is in crisis with 4,461 calls to extricate people from elevators in 2015, double the number from 2001. Ontario’s Elevator Union was also quoted, claiming some landlords are, “simply unable or unwilling to spend the needed money,” to fix elevators and overloaded technicians don’t have time for routine maintenance. A building owner was also interviewed indicating building owners are being forced to upgrade their elevators at significant cost or deal with sick elevators.

If you are an industry outsider, this article can be disturbing to read. However, Solucore does not believe this article provide accurate insight into what is happening in the industry.

"The article didn’t show the whole picture, we saw a part of what’s going on," says Ray Eleid, an experienced elevator mechanic and consulting engineer with Solucore. "Doubling the number of entrapments from 2001 to 2016 is not unreasonable given factors such as increased population, increased number of elevators, and the increased ability to report an entrapment."

Solucore would like to point out the following information in hopes the media may help provide Canadians with a fuller picture of our country’s elevator issues:

1.  Increased entrapments since 2001 also due to an increased population and construction:

According to Statistics Canada, in 2014 almost 7 in 10 Canadians, or almost 25 million people, were living in a one of Canada’s major census metropolitan areas (CMAs). And more than one in three made their home in one of Canada's three largest CMAs – Toronto, Montréal, and Vancouver. New construction has also increased over the past 10 years, resulting in an elevator boom combined with more people riding in elevators. In addition, newer buildings are putting less quantity of elevators and are going higher, meaning elevators are running faster and harder in new towers.

2.  Newer elevators have been very problematic:

There have been significant issues in elevators in new buildings. In 2013 in Toronto specifically, an increase in construction and lack of mechanics due to the strike meant many companies struggled to get the elevators turned over faster and some of the elevators were in need of significant tweaking and “cleaning” of deficiencies before they could become reliable.

3.  The demographics of elevator mechanics have changed:

Many of the industry’s senior mechanics have retired and many new mechanics were welcomed to the trade to keep up with the demands of construction. These younger mechanics lack the experience to perform good elevator troubleshooting. The industry has seen many repeat calls as a result of less experienced mechanics being able to fix the elevators right the first time.

4.  Environmental issues related to clean power can also contribute to entrapments:

We have noticed that grey power or brown-outs impact the newer elevators significantly. Newer drives and power regulated and power monitors installed in the controls rely on the steady good power supply. Poor power quality from the utilities result in shutdowns and entrapments. Unusually hot days can also lead to shutdowns if the air conditioning is not sufficient or it fails during the day.

5.  There is a regulatory body for the elevator industry:

The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates the elevator maintenance and contractors, but they were not mentioned in the article. Also, recent changes in the elevator code has impacted the industry.

6.  Inconsistent data:

Solucore reviewed our entrapment data for a commercial portfolio in Ontario which represents a core group of Class A buildings and the entrapment numbers suggests there is no spike in entrapments as long as the portfolio is unchanged and the contractors are unchanged.

7.  Improved communications since 2001:

Cell phones and signals have improved significantly since 2001, allowing passengers in elevators to now call 911. Not only does this skew the data, but it is a problem for property managers who have to deal with emergency responders invoices. Property managers have no say in whether the fire department shows up or not or if they are needed but have to pay for assistance instead of waiting for the elevator mechanic. We believe building owners should have a voice in this trend as they are ultimately being tasked with paying for the cost of the emergency responders.

For more information:

Ray Eleid
(905) 206-0555

Solucore is a leading North American elevator and escalator consultant with offices in Canada and the United States. Considered experts and trendsetters in the industry, Solucore elevator, and escalator installation consultants use customized tools and services to thoroughly design, inspect, maintain and review equipment. The company is committed to improving and maintaining customer satisfaction and ensuring that elevators and escalators achieve the highest level of safety. For a complete list of services and capabilities, visit www.solucore.com.

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