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Best Practice: Upgrade of Single Speed AC Elevators

By: D&D Elevator

A typical single-speed, AC traction motor


A typical single-speed, AC traction motor

Building owners and managers whose properties continue to operate Single Speed AC traction elevators should seriously consider upgrading their equipment to modern standards, and there are many good reasons why. Continued operation of this outdated technology presents many problems: code compliance issues, ongoing repair costs, insurance costs, risk of downtime, but, above all – because of their inherent leveling issues – discomfort and risks to passengers and exposure to consequent trip-and-fall litigation.

Single-speed AC (SSAC) electric traction elevators are slow speed, low-capacity passenger units that may cause the elevator not to stop within level. They first appeared during the post-World War II period, often installed as upgrades to earlier, prevalent DC systems as the municipal trolley grids that powered them became extinct, with installation continuing into the 1970s. Popular because they were attractively priced, they typically appeared in low- to mid-rise residential buildings, including condo conversions and rental apartments.

These elevators travel at one speed, which makes them prone to intermittent leveling fluctuations and trip-and-fall trip hazards, particularly to elderly passengers and those with mobility disabilities who may find it extremely difficult to negotiate level differences. These elevators are now obsolete and no longer made or installed. Current New York State code requires that elevators, when arriving at a floor, stop accurately and consistently within a finite limit of ½-inch above or below floor level. This is reflected in the current edition of The American Harmonized Elevator code (CSA B44/ASME A17.1). The Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) has also written on the matter, that these elevators, because of their poor leveling ability, should be upgraded.

SSAC elevator hazard









Due to the imprecise braking on this SSAC elevator, it has stopped well above the code-mandated tolerance of ½-inch above or below the floor, which can cause a hazard to passengers and the risk of trip-and-fall litigation

SSAC elevators relied on brakes to stop the car in properly level position, which often proved imprecise and inaccurate. Conversely, today’s elevators have abandoned the use of brakes to stop the car, instead employing variable voltage-variable frequency control systems that consistently stop the elevator at floor level within tolerances of ¼-inch. As their name implies, these adjust both the voltage and frequency of the power applied to the hoist motor, thereby varying the speed at which the motor operates. With this technology, the hoist motor can be brought to a so-called “electrical stop” – with the hoist motor energized but not turning. This allows floor stops to be accurately specified, without regard to the load in the car.

The experts at D&D Elevator stand ready to help you evaluate your particular needs, to cost-efficiently achieve code-compliance, safety – and peace-of-mind!

D&D Receives Yonkers Proclamation for Opening of Elevator Learning Center

By: D&D Elevator

Bob Schaeffer demonstrating distance learning at the Elevator Learning Center, advanced communications technology that allows students anywhere to visually interact online with instructors, using high-definition video streamed with high-fidelity audio.

Bob Schaeffer demonstrating distance learning at the Elevator Learning Center, advanced communications technology that allows students anywhere to visually interact online with instructors, using high-definition video streamed with high-fidelity audio.

In a series of events this past Fall, D&D Elevator of Elmsford, NY opened its new Elevator Learning Center at 200 Corporate Boulevard in Yonkers, NY, just a few minutes north of New York City. In addition to classroom space, the 2,500-square-foot facility includes workshop areas where actual, real-life elevator mechanical equipment – donated by various companies throughout the elevator industry – is set up for use in hands-on training sessions. The setup also includes advanced communications technology that allows students anywhere to visually interact online with instructors, using high-definition video streamed with high-fidelity audio. 

At the October 3rd ribbon cutting event, D&D CEO and President Bobby Schaeffer demonstrated how the distance learning program will work, and spoke about how this would open opportunity and education to young people regardless of their location. “We’re working to develop new talent,” said Schaffer. “While most kids today are continuing to opt for pursuing college degrees, we’re looking to develop a viable opportunity for young people who prefer to pursue a different path. We believe it’s vital to make available this kind of education, to give young people incentive to join this trade, the elevator industry.”

“The reality is that college isn’t for everyone,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano at an October 17th media conference as he welcomed the Elevator Learning Center to the city. “It is so exciting that D&D is enabling a solid middle-class living for kids and young people who would prefer working at a trade to an academic pursuit.” The Elevator Learning Center is in talks with the Yonkers school system about creating programming for its Trades and Technical High School, to create a feeder program for later entry into an apprenticeship program at the Center. 

Left to right: Kevin Cacace (President of the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce and Yonkers School Board trustee), Dr. Edwin Quezada (Superintendent of Yonkers Schools), Reverend Steve Lopez (President of the Yonkers School Board), Mike Breen (Yonkers City Council - District 5), Susan S. Naber (Principal, Vive/Yonkers Pathway To Success School), Chuck Lesnick (representing the N.Y. State Governor's office), Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (with Proclamation), Bob Schaeffer, Michael Bonardi and Nunzio Meccariello of D&D.

Left to right: Kevin Cacace (President of the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce and Yonkers School Board trustee), Dr. Edwin Quezada (Superintendent of Yonkers Schools), Reverend Steve Lopez (President of the Yonkers School Board), Mike Breen (Yonkers City Council - District 5), Susan S. Naber (Principal, Vive/Yonkers Pathway To Success School), Chuck Lesnick (representing the N.Y. State Governor's office), Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (with Proclamation), Bob Schaeffer, Michael Bonardi and Nunzio Meccariello of D&D.

At the media conference, Mayor Spano, accompanied by numerous Yonkers community leaders, presented D&D with a proclamation for its contribution to the Yonkers community. Schaeffer, alongside D&D partners Michael Bonardi and Nunzio Meccariello, stated that for him the formal opening of the Center was bringing great personal satisfaction. “For me it’s very exciting. I was involved early on in the actual process to create the Certified Elevator Technician (CET) program and the accreditation process. We have an accreditation from ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ANSI (American National Standards Institute),” he said.

Schaeffer noted that since its founding in 1981, safety has been D&D’s number one concern, not only for the public that rides the elevators serviced by the company, but equally for the technicians who install them and keep them maintained.

“Safety is the number one important issue for us, and a leading factor in what we are teaching here now,” he emphasized. “Travel by elevator traditionally has been among the very safest forms of transportation and D&D is committed to doing what it can to keep it that way.”

Proper Preparation for Elevator Emergencies

By: D&D Elevator

Emergency phone by Viking Security & Communication SolutionsEmergency phone by Viking Security
& Communication Solutions

Property owners and managers daily are faced with an ever-changing array of issues and challenges on which to remain current. Given this reality – plus the ongoing issues of “time to focus” and managing budgets and expenses – it is easy to slip into a pattern of avoiding matters that should or must be addressed for reasons of safety and code compliance. Ignoring these issues can lead to significant future costs in money and time, and, in a worst-case scenario, tragedy. This is especially true when it comes to preparing one’s elevators for emergencies, and we focus here on three specific categories: Emergency Phones, Emergency Lighting and Firefighter Services Operation, which is required by A.17.1 2000 Code & NYC DOB Code Appendix K.

Emergency Phones

Code now requires emergency “hands free” phones to be installed in all elevator cabs, with, per the American Disabilities Act, the ability for disabled persons to operate them and call quickly and effectively for help. Today’s typical configurations for emergency phone systems include the ability for trapped passengers to initiate a call with only the touch of a button, which triggers a process of reaching out for “human” help and acknowledging to entrapped passengers that it is on the way. This process also can convey to the service provider the exact location of where the entrapment is occurring.

Emergency lighting by GAL - note battery at rear

Emergency lighting by GAL -
note battery at rear

Emergency Lighting

Currently required by national code, emergency lighting systems are designed to illuminate the cab in the event of a power failure and provide visibility, comfort and safety to passengers trapped in a stalled elevator. Such systems must contain code-specified batteries that ensure that the cab is lit when emergency strikes.

Code additionally requires in part that not less than two auxiliary lamps shall be provided; that the illumination at the car threshold, with the door closed, shall be not less than 50 lx (5 fc) for passenger cars and half this for freight cars; that auxiliary lights shall be automatically turned on in all elevators in service after normal car light fails; and that the power system shall be capable of maintaining the above light intensity for a period of at least 4 hours.

Hall stations by GAL,  showing instructions in case of fire,  and lock for use by firefighters

Hall stations by GAL, showing warning in case of fire, and lock for use by firefighters

Firefighter’s Service Operation

In spite of prominent building signage and the advice that has been common for decades about the dangerous chimney effect of elevator shafts, when a fire occurs in a building, many occupants reflexively make a beeline for the elevators. All too often, such behavior has been the cause of severe injury and death. Firefighter’s Service Operation consists of a set of devices that suspends all cabs from “normal” mode (disabling all hall and car calls), allows special operation by firefighters and emergency personnel, and sends the cars to a designated fire recall landing in the building. From there, passengers are much better able to safely exit the elevator and the building. Without such a system, elevators can continue their normal operation during a fire with potentially catastrophic consequences.

D&D Can Help!

When it comes to elevators, best practice is always to expect the unexpected. The experts at D&D Elevator stand ready to help you evaluate your particular “emergency” needs – to cost-efficiently guide you through the sometimes-bewildering maze of ASME and other national, regional and local code requirements – and boost your peace-of-mind!