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3 Tips for a successful elevator modernization

Getting caught off guard is never fun. Think about your kitchen appliances. If you find out your new dishwasher has broken down or your recently purchased oven needs to be repaired, it’s never good news but it makes sense to fix them. After all, you just invested in the latest technologies (and, they are probably under warranty).


Now, imagine this same scenario in a kitchen with appliances dating back to the 1980s or 1990s: the appliances probably look old, they are certainly not very energy efficient, they might not be the safest, and they won’t include the latest smart technologies. So, does it make sense to repair them? Probably not. Just finding the right parts could pose challenging and the value of repairing the existing appliances over upgrading them is basically nonexistent.

And yet, these aged kitchen appliances are kin to many of the elevators running today. They were installed in the 80s and 90s. This means that when these elevators break down, it might not be as easy to repair them and simply fixing them won’t add any long-term value to your property. In this case an elevator modernization makes the most sense.

But why wait until a breakdown at all? Just like you would upgrade your kitchen appliances once they become outdated (so they don’t stop working right before you host your family’s holiday celebration), your elevators can also be preemptively upgraded.

By planning the modernization of your equipment in advance, even if it’s 5 years from now, you can minimize unpredictability and avoid nasty surprises for you, your tenants and your building’s "wallet".

In this blog, we look at 3 key tips to help you get started preparing for the future with an elevator modernization.

  • Identifying the right type of elevator upgrade for the building
  • Selecting the best add-ons for your building
  • Determining the optimal time to plan the elevator modernization

Step 1: Identify the right type of modernization

There are two main types of modernization available:

  1. Partial modernization
  2. Complete replacement

Partial modernization

With a partial modernization, the biggest problems in your elevator are addressed first. We can either upgrade individual components or install packages that replace a few key components: such as the fixtures, the controller and the drive. You can adapt your elevator investment to the needs and financial planning of the building.

There is a catch with partial modernizations. Yes, the elevator lifecycle is being extended, but many of the components will still need to be updated later. This means the work takes longer, giving residents the impression that the elevator is ‘always’ being repaired.

Total replacement

With a total replacement, an entirely new elevator is installed into the existing hoist way. This option is best if you want to completely renovate the interior of the elevator or replace old-style doors (such as swing or manual doors) with the latest, code-compliant versions.

A complete Schindler replacement modernization, provides all the benefits of a new elevator while working within the existing available space. You increase the value of the building and your tenants see a visible improvement. But, a complete elevator replacement does need more time, typically around 3-5 weeks, and more upfront financing, rather than spreading the costs over time.

There are clear benefits and drawbacks to both solutions, so it’s important to understand the difference to select the best option for your building.


Step 2: Define the specific needs

Do you want your new elevator components to conform with the latest codes and standards? Would you like to add the latest sanitary solutions to your elevator? Do you want to turn your elevator into an infotainment center? Or do you need better traffic management? These are important questions to ask in determining what options you want to include in your elevator modernization plan.

Code solutions

If your elevator is very old, it might be important to consider the codes and standards you would like your system to meet. Do you need to ensure the latest accessibility codes are considered? If so, it’s important to identify what options should be installed with the modernization. For example, when you are modernizing the elevator doors, including the latest light curtain technology will help your elevator detect smaller obstacles and meet the latest norms. Or, if you are updating your fixtures, then including high contrast buttons will help your system meet EN81-70 requirements.

Understanding the overall goal for the equipment will allow you to add the right elevator enhancements during your modernization rather than requiring a retrofit later.

Sanitization solutions

Elevators are among the most trafficked areas in buildings - so it’s extremely important to be able to clean and sanitize them quickly and easily. Solutions, such as Schindler CleanMobility products, help eliminate bacteria and viruses on elevator surfaces and reduce the physical contact a passenger needs to have with equipment. UV lights help disinfect the air and surfaces inside the car. Sensor technology and QR codes can now be used to call an elevator, removing the need to press a button. These elevator enhancements can be easily added to your modernization to keep passengers moving safely through your building.

Communication solutions

Another way to boost your modernization is by adding a new communication platform in your elevator. With Schindler Digital Media Services, you can share important information, promotions, or news with your tenants all via the new screens in your elevator. One additional benefit, this visible change will let tenants know about your elevator upgrade, even if the rest of the elevator appears to be the same.

Transit management solutions

One of the best ways to maximize the impact of an elevator modernization in buildings with 3 or more elevators is by integrating a destination dispatch system. This technology optimizes elevator performance to move people more efficiently through your building. With a destination dispatch system, such as Schindler PORT 4D, passengers select their desired floor before they get into the elevator and the system groups them by destination. This eliminates unnecessary stops, quickening the journey and prolonging the elevator lifecycle. Additionally, this system brings other benefits such as access control and energy efficiency to increase the value of your building.


Step 3: Determine the best time for the modernization

Most elevators are more than 30 years old, and a typical elevator lifecycle is 25-30 years. However, factors such as, number of trips per day or moving heavy equipment can influence how quickly your equipment will need to be replaced. And, while we can usually repair your equipment, at some point it just makes sense to upgrade or modernize instead. This will help prolong the life of the remaining components.

Elevator modernization can seem daunting. But the first step is simple: you just need to identify if the needs of your elevator or escalator have changed, or if there’s a problem with your equipment. Elevator components, just like your kitchen appliances, have a certain lifecycle. So, it’s best to develop an elevator modernization plan before your equipment reaches end of life. This will ensure you have the necessary financing available and help you prevent unnecessary breakdowns.

We are happy to meet with you to determine the current health of your equipment, lay out a plan for your elevator upgrades, whether it needs to be done tomorrow or 5 years from now, and prepare a proposal that meets your specific needs. Our experience helps us skillfully understand and address the special requirements and the unique challenges that an elevator modernization presents.

An elevator upgrade can boost the value of your property, improve energy efficiency, introduce state of the art technology, and help you comply with the latest codes and standards. So, don’t leave your elevator in the past.