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Russ Ward

Elevator Poll Results

Pushing the Right Buttons

We conducted and continue to poll the construction industry regarding how well the elevator industry performs in five specific areas. The elevator poll results are beginning to paint a picture! The participants include architects, project managers, engineers, building owners, investors and everyone in between. We will be using these numbers to establish a new normal and revolutionize multi-story construction processes. As an elevator manufacturer we know there are shortcomings in our industry and this is an important first step in making changes and being a part of an elevator revolution.

Your input is valuable so let your voice be heard. You can still take the poll and we will update the results.

We have already and will continue to conduct open forums based on various construction vertical markets to get additional input. This will greatly help in fomenting the change we all need to see. You will see a picture beginning to emerge through our polling and our first discussion with the parking structure industry leaders.

With that said, here are the results of each question in the poll:

In the construction industry, how would you rank your overall experience with the elevator industry horrible to great?

The ranking is on a one through five scale with 1 being horrible and 5 being great. This result was honestly and unfortunately not surprising. It has long been asserted that the elevator industry is not being responsive to the needs of the construction industry.

During the forum, a number of examples were put forward to explain the low numbers by the poll participants.

  1. There is often a charismatic salesperson that oversells with promises.
  2. The contract is long and filled with outs. When you want to hold the salesperson’s accountable they are rarely still there as there is lots of turnover.
  3. Liquidated damages due to poor execution of the install and inspection are commonplace.
  4. The elevator contractor is not a team player and cannot to be counted on to help deal with a problem.
  5. The elevator companies have a near monopoly and know it. They treat everyone else on the jobsite poorly and never help out.
  6. There is poor communication and when there is communication it is not honest communication.

We were holding the forum to only an hour out of respect for time that participants were willing to expend. However, this question alone could have filled the entire hour and more.

The upshot is that the elevator industry needs to quit kidding itself. There is not only the perception of a problem deeply engrained in the industry, there is one. Other trades, owners, design/build firms, project managers and just about everyone in the construction industry feels pain points regarding the elevator. They also have real world examples of areas that need some or significant improvement.

How big a problem is the elevator regarding time of completion of a project? 

The elevator poll results show delays. But, all construction projects have delays. And, as we know delays cost money. It pushes back occupancy, interferes with other trades necessitating call backs and rescheduling and is a headache to manage. But is the elevator industry any worse than the next subcontractor?

From the elevator poll results it appears that the elevator usually creates major delays or always causes some delays. The forum respondents backed this up with the following thoughts:

  1. Management of the elevator crew onsite seems to be non-existent with elevator personnel coming and going without explanation.
  2. The elevator mechanics will start and work for an hour or two then leave with no explanation or concern of missing a deadline.
  3. The space onsite for equipment is too large and always in the way. Other trades are prevented from starting work or finishing work started because the elevator parts and tools take up too much room.
  4. Scheduling the inspection is always a problem. It is recognized that often it is the inspector that is the cause of the delay.
  5. Proper notification of work and inspection schedules is a huge problem. There is no communication if plans or arrangements change whether it is the fault of the elevator company or not.
  6. There are too many contractual loopholes that allow poor service and from temperatures to dust in the hoistway.

It is starting to feel like a recurring theme and we are only at Question 2. Quality communication of timelines, expectations and scheduling is a big problem. Also, the perception is that there is little care about the project overall. This seems to be consistent in the polling and the forum discussion.

What considerations are most important regarding the elevator in a project? Choose as many as you like.

As you can see the responses were varied and often based upon the role that each respondent has in the project. One of the issues the elevator industry must face is the variety of customers they must provide service to. Customers meaning anyone that they need to communicate with and have a vested interest in the project.

For instance the needs of the architect and engineer regarding the structure are very important, as is traffic flow and design. But those issues may not even be on the building owner’s radar. However, the timeline of the elevator is much more important to them and the project manager.

Overall, the forum revealed that machine roomless elevators are here to stay and have market acceptance even in some jurisdictions that were dragging their feet. This is despite the lack of need regarding speed of travel or increased costs. The space savings generally was not an issue with the parking lot sector although others, by the poll numbers, felt it was important.

Additional comments included that adding significant time to the estimated job completion due to the elevator installation was crucial. Also, costs were not generally as important as on time completion and a high-quality overall product.

How early in the process is the elevator manufacturer determined (not the installer)?

This question is the one that was predictable and not a surprise in the least. It was acknowledged in the forum that they often go with the same manufacturer over several projects. However, they do not hesitate to rotate through the options.

In any case, the decision is made fairly early in the process. However, over time they have learned to build the hoistway, regarding traditional elevators, large enough to accommodate options from a variety of elevator companies.

In the forum it was surprising how often last minute changes had occurred. Last minute increases in the pricing or lack of availability of timely installation were included as the reasons.

What are the biggest difficulties regarding the elevator? Choose all that apply.

The most common difficulty and the most glaring issue in the forum regarding the elevator is both the start up and scheduling of the inspection. That is followed by costs and overruns created by continual change orders.

There was also an acknowledgement that lack of quality communication continues to be a recurring theme. Again the timing of the state inspection was also an important topic. It seems that there are consistent breakdowns in communication. Often the contact person with the elevator company changes with turn over and then there is no notice given to the construction company. This leads to emails or phone messages going to previous employees and there being no response. As a result, the project manager has sent notice to the elevator company, but no one is there to respond.

It seems the construction company cannot keep track of the players and when they do, they are not viewed as team players.

Elevator Poll Results Conclusions

It is still a bit early to know all the right conclusions, however even early on we can start to paint a picture. From the forum and the poll it seems communication is lacking. But, that does not mean just communication in general. Communication needs to be quality. That means awareness of the elevator processes and motivations from the selling the unit to the inspection. A step-by-step organized guide may need to be compiled with easy to follow guides to installation and start up. Not one just for modular elevators, but one for all elevators. Clear concise information is needed. That would help solve many problems.

There also needs to be a real examination of ways to increase efficiency in the process. Moving some of the sticking points closer tot he front end instead of the backend. There are better ways for an industry that has largely stayed the same since the 1800’s.

Lastly, there needs to be honesty in dealing with and commitment to our customers. Not just the folks that are paying for the elevator, but everyone throughout the process from sales to the final user. This is a significant shortfall of the elevator industry.

We still need more data from the elevator poll results to make a better assessment and improvements so please take a couple of minutes and let us know what you think about the elevator industry. Also, we want a free flow of communication, even if it is hard to say or might offend. If you look at this data a different way or see potential solutions please let us know. We want to lead an elevator revolution, but it won’t be possible without you.


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