It is the commitment, not the equipment that differentiates non-proprietary from proprietary. Contractors, manufacturers and elevator professionals suggest that all elevator systems are basically proprietary in nature, by virtue of their design. The degree of proprietary restraint can be measured by the ability of service companies other than the original manufacturer to maintain the equipment — and the degree of proprietary restraint within distribution and support channels. Freedom of choice is the reason most often mentioned by building owners when specifying non-proprietary elevator equipment.
Before 1975, hundreds of relays were assembled on panels to provide logic processing. With development of the first “solid state” silicon devices, transistors began to replace electromechanical relay systems. Without moving parts, these devices improved reliability by eliminating the need for relay replacement. While old technology allowed a qualified elevator mechanic to trace the source of a problem by following wires from relay to relay, new dispatching logic and other operations were now hidden inside microchips.
As the elevator industry adopted this technology, an increasing amount of new equipment required the use of special electronic service tools to adjust, troubleshoot and maintain equipment, or reconfigure system operations. This limited the building owner’s choice for all future maintenance and repair to the original manufacturer.
OEM’s (original equipment manufacturers) make proprietary elevator equipment. This is equipment that’s made by them, serviced by them, and includes mechanically proprietary parts. So when you need a new motor or integral part, you’ll have to get those from them also.
This presents a couple of glaring issues for building owners and managers. OEM’s have changed the lifecycle of their equipment over the years. Equipment and parts that used to last 30 years, now can be discontinued after just three. When $1,000 parts aren’t available anymore, the repair costs are considerably higher to replace them with other proprietary components. In the daily operational cost for your building, that’s a lot to consider.
Second, many independent elevator companies simply can’t work on proprietary equipment. Either because they don’t have training and experience on the equipment, or they lack aftermarket tools and diagnostic software required to effectively troubleshoot, maintain and repair them. When your elevator is down and the OEM you purchased it from can’t service it for four weeks or more, unless you want to pay for overtime — you are flat out of luck.
Did You Know?
OEM’s will install their preferred equipment at a discounted rate, knowing they’ll be locking you in to their proprietary equipment for years to come. While you wait for a repair, you may also be faced with extremely high fees that OEM’s charge for preventive maintenance and servicing of their equipment. With few options and longer downtimes, you have less control over your operations and are likely paying more than is necessary for a repair or a preventive maintenance contract. These are the many real costs of proprietary equipment that are usually not considered at the time of purchase – either at new construction or modernization.
The Emergence of Non-Proprietary Equipment
In 1983, to meet changing customer demand, Motion Control Engineering (MCE), pioneered third-party “Universally Maintainable” control systems in the footsteps of CEC’s Swift and O. Thompson.
Building owners embraced this new generation of non-proprietary equipment. Elevator consultants tailored non-proprietary project specifications to match growing client preference. It became increasingly common to see equipment specified as, “Serviceable and Maintainable by any qualified elevator maintenance provider capable of maintaining apparatus of similar design and complexity.”
Motion Control Engineering (MCE)
With MCE non-proprietary elevator equipment, diagnostics are built in, so no external tool is required. The building owner is assured of the right to select and retain maintenance providers based on customer satisfaction, not access to a service tool. MCE offers high-quality factory technical training to all, creating a large pool of qualified, experienced factory trained installation and maintenance technicians.
Extensive customer care and support is another differentiating characteristic of MCE non-proprietary equipment. Their technical support team provides a seamless line of support — from telephone hotline support to field support at the customer’s site as needed. Since non-proprietary equipment is characterized by the notable absence of constraints, spare and replacement manuals and job drawings are always available.