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Feb
13

The Role of Data in the Elevator Industry

One of my hobbies is dreaming up creative and easy ways to collect and use data in the vertical transportation industry. I know, I need more hobbies. However, this fascination has given birth to a few tangible database solutions that I, with the help of my ever-present mentor, boss, and mother, Sheila Swett, have coded. One is projectQEI and I mentioned it in an earlier blog post. The other is something I call projectShop.

projectShop is a mobile database app that collects data for elevator shops. It comes in a few different flavors – that is, there are different versions that do things like create tickets and other versions that store and collect data for maintenance checkcharts and various other MCP-like data. My never-ending dissertation is actually based on the latter. I’m interested in the way that this collected data can be used. To do this, I needed a shop to run my program. Luckily, with the connections of aforementioned mentor, boss, and mother, I was able to introduce the app to the elevator shop foreman at the University of Alabama, Steve Lake. Steve had been in talks with the IT department on campus to get some type of program together that would help him collect and store the maintenance data for his 200+ units. Luckily I was able to meet the requirements Steve had for this app and by the end of 2012, each mechanic was inputting maintenance data on iPads. The data was then pushed to the cloud where it was visible for all authorized users. The data includes over 300,000 separate checks per year on the equipment on campus. Each item can be either 1) not checked, 2) checked and good, or 3) checked and bad.

Ok. I have all this data. What can I do with it? For starters, I can transmit any problems to the shop foreman instantly. The second the mechanic or student worker marks a maintenance item as “bad,” I can have the server send Steve an email with the details. Or a text. Or a phone call with an automated robot voice for that matter. Instant notification of problems in the field is super important to a speedy response. Instead of notifications, I built a list of “open items” for Steve – sort of a “to do” list. When he addresses the item and everything is fixed, he removes the open item from his to do list.

Let’s look at the big picture for a minute. The U of A shop has only been using projectShop for a little over a month. Fast forward two years. How about analyzing the frequency of lamp replacements in car emergency lights and how much time mechanics take addressing the issue? Is it time to choose a different manufacturer or install LED fixtures? Running a report on the frequency of replacement items per elevator. Is it time for a mod on a specific set of units? Spotting trends in failures of components and heading off those failures with targeted or specific preventative maintenance could also be a benefit. Instead of service records being stored on paper in binders on a shelf, databases can automate these types of reports and provide useful data almost instantly.

How else could this data be used to complement a complete maintenance plan?

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