MODERNIZING YOUR ELEVATORS
If you’ve ever been involved in planning and bidding an elevator modernization, you may have employed the services of a consultant to provide a specification or “spec” for the project. More times than not, the spec will call for “Non-Proprietary” equipment. Let’s explore the difference.
Non-Proprietary equipment, from a consultant standpoint, is pretty much any equipment not designed and manufactured by one of the major elevator companies, ie. Schindler, Kone, Thyssen-Krupp, Otis, Mitsubishi, etc.
Proprietary equipment, by the same consultant standard, is all equipment, traditionally electronic, that is designed and manufactured by one of the majors.
In the early years of microprocessor elevator control, there was no standard protocol for developing tools to program, troubleshoot and maintain this new type of equipment. Elevator companies had no choice but to develop specialty tools as part of the overall control design. A prime example would be the Otis Elevator “Otis Maintenance Terminal” or “OMT”.
The OMT literally consisted of a Samsonite briefcase that contained 32 light emitting diodes numbered 1-32 a keypad resembling a multi-function calculator and 3 alphanumeric LED windows. Using the proper plastic overlay, (a sheet of plastic with holes punched in it and printing to correspond with the particular operation), one was able to diagnose problems, reprogram and or copy chips, run tests, and monitor the operation of the elevator. It wasn’t long before they figured out that this meant only they would be able to comprehensively maintain the equipment. All of the other companies soon followed suit and the proprietary war was on.
As time progressed, electronics became increasingly sophisticated to the point where it was literally impossible to troubleshoot problems without these tools and forget making simple programming changes.
After several years and in response to consultant requirements of non-proprietary products, customer complaints of maintenance lock-ins for the same reason, lawsuits by by entities with special contract requirements (see attachment at end of article) companies slowly relented, eventually offering customer tools, allowing customers move away from their equipment manufacturer for maintenance. Being that the field side of the elevator industry is very transient, much of the information made it’s way to other companies. Coupled with the internet, industrial espionage, and China’s, less than scrupulous, manufacturing practices, the special diagnostic tools became available and issue of propriety became less problematic.
In recent years, the non-OEM companies have become more and more proprietary in their own right, to the point now, there is little difference between them and the major manufacturers.
Okay, with all that being said, should you go with OEM or non-OEM equipment when you modernize? You should ask yourself some questions first. What brand of equipment do you have? Is the manufacturer and maintenance provider the same? If so, how happy are you with their service?
Elevators are not unlike automobiles in that there are several manufacturers and hundreds of different models. All cars all have steering wheels, tires, seats, an engine. All elevators have a cab, doors buttons a motor, etc. It’s what you don’t see that is different. It’s possible to put a GM engine and transmission in a Toyota, but it will take some major modifications and will have issues down the road that mechanics will find problematic to resolve. You can install Mitsubishi controls on a Kone elevator, but it too will take some major modifications that a maintenance provider will eventually use as an excuse why they can’t fix problems. Replacing a GM drive train in a GM vehicle will go smoother and an elevator modernization isn’t much different. Aftermarket or “Non-OEM” products are made to fit multiple types of equipment. They are never a perfect fit, but fewer modifications are required than switching between OEMs. If your elevator equipment is electronic and your current maintenance provider is not the same as the OEM, you will more likely than not, suffer unnecessary and unforeseen shutdowns while elevators are cut out of the group, due to lack of familiarity with the equipment. That doesn’t mean that an OEM will preform seamlessly with no problems. What they do have is technical support, which, in theory, should minimize the frequency and down time.
This all needs to be considered prior to awarding a contract and here is where a consultant is probably most valuable. They will guide you through the muddy waters of multiple proposals and assist you in making an informed decision. The few thousand dollars you spend on their services will save you many headaches in the future.
COUNTY OF BERKS v. OTIS ELEVATOR COMPANYFiling 18ORDER THAT THE PLAINTIFFS PETITION FOR SPECIAL RELIEF IS GRANTED. WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR (24) HOURS OF THE DATE OF THIS ORDER, DEFENDANT SHALL PRESENT TO PLAINTIFF ON THE 13TH FLOOR OF THE BERKS COUNTY SERVICES CENTER THE FOLLOWING MATERIALS: A FUNCTION ING OTIS MAINTENANCE TOOL CAPABLE OF SERVICING OTIS ELEVONIC 401 CONTROLLERS; ALL ELEVONIC 401 OWNERS MANUALS, SERVICE MANUALS AND SERVICE BULLETINS FOR THE TRACTION ELEVATORS, ALL OWNERS MANUALS, SERVICE MANUALS AND SERVICE BULLETINS FOR THE HYDRA ULIC ELEVATORS; ALL OMT OVERLAYS; ALL OMT MANUALS, OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS, AND CODES LISTS; AND ANY OTHER TOOLS OR MATERIAL NECESSARY TO SERVICE THE ELEVATORS IN THE SERVICES CENTER AND COURTHOUSE. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT THE PLAINTIFF, ITS CON TRACTORS, SUBCONTRACTORS, AGENTS, CONSULTANTS, SUBCONSULTANTS, EXPERTS, VENDORS, AND/OR EMPLOYEES SHALL USE THE OMT ONLY AS NECESSARY TO FACILITATE THE PROPER MAINTENANCE AND SERVICING OF THE OTIS ELEVATORS CURRENTLY LOCATED IN THE SERVICES CENTER AN D COURTHOUSE, AND FOR NO OTHER BUSINESS, COMMERCIAL, COMPETITIVE, PERSONAL, OR OTHER PURPOSE. PRIOR TO THE USING THE OMT, THE PLAINTIFF SHALL HAVE ITS CONTRACTORS, SUBCONTRACTORS, AGENTS, CONSULTANTS, SUBCONSULTANTS, EXPERTS, VENDORS, AND/OR EMPLOYEE S EXECUTE THE AGREEMENT TO BE BOUND BY CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENT ATTACHED AS EXHIBIT A. THE COUNTY SHALL RETURN THE OMT TO THE DEFENDANT ONCE THE FINAL OTIS ELEVONIC 401 ELEVATOR IN THE SERVICES CENTER AND COURTHOUSE IS TAKEN OUT OF SERVICE AS PART O F AN ON-GOING MODERNIZATION PROJECT. IN THE EVENT THE OMT DOES NOT OPERATE FOR ANY REASON, THE DEFENDANT SHALL PROVIDE THE COUNTY WITH A REPLACEMENT OMT WITHIN TWO (2) BUSINESS DAYS. SIGNED BY HONORABLE LAWRENCE F. STENGEL ON 9/23/15. 9/23/15 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED. (va, )