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Multi-residential block lift refurbishment

Case Study

Metro Central Heights

Ardent Lift Consultancy were appointed to undertake a survey on a heritage building in September 2020, with our site inspection offering the client a full appraisal of the lifts, their anticipated lifecycle analysis, and budget costs for the recommended modernisation scheme.

The property was originally constructed in the 1960’s for a government department building, prior to being converted for residential use in 1997.

Survey Findings

Some of the original lift systems had been removed during the residential conversion, (due to the traffic requirements of a residential property generally being less than that of an office building), and the remaining lifts were subject to a partial refurbishment, which included retention of the original DC gearless machines.
There were seven lifts on site (arranged as a triplex in the tallest block, a duplex in the mid-rise block and with two single lifts in the external wings of the property).

At the time our survey was undertaken the control systems were 23 years old, and from a manufacturer who had ceased trading in the early 2000s, and the main hoisting machines were over 60 years old. This was exposing the property to the risk of increased breakdown frequency and the specter of obsolescence.

Energy Efficiency

An area where we looked to add further value to the scheme was through the replacement of the DC machines, changing to a gearless VVVF technology, which would offer vast savings in terms of energy consumption.

The anticipated capital cost of these items was identified, along with the projected savings modern technology would offer, giving the client a clear and concise report into their future costs from the lift installations.

Total estimated saving over 20 year life cycle

Based on our calculations, we expected the modernisation works to save in excess of £100k over the lifecycle of the equipment, by way of added value, and this was prior to the recent rise in energy costs.



Total saving

Client Consultation

We met with the client, and the onsite management team to discuss the various options and how best to maximise their budget, whereby we were appointed as their chosen Lift Consultant and a specification of works was agreed.

Logisitcs Planning

Within our appointment we provided Principal Designer duties for the client (as required under the CDM Regulations 2015).

As part of this role, we identified the building conversion had removed some of the original lifting facilities for motor room access, meaning the route for the machinery would be cumbersome, challenging and potentially dangerous.

Provisions were put in place to ensure the safety of operatives, residents, and building fabric in advance of tendering to the respective Lift Contractors as part of our due diligence for the scheme.

Lift Car Design 

The other factor we considered was the unique design of the building, which included timber panelled foyers, art-deco style-stained glass windows, and distinctive landing indicators.

We put together some design ideas and the client embraced the opportunity to restore a high-end finish to their building.

Project Management

We tendered the scheme to seven Lift Contractors, due to the scale of the project dictating a wide spread of the market.

The tendering was very competitive with the project proving an attractive prospect for the invited contractors, and there were three leading candidates who offered the client pros and cons from their respective bids.

We invited each of the contractors to post tender interviews held on site, ensuring we could discuss the challenges of the project firsthand, enabling total transparency in their bids, and the ability to provide the client with assurances that the logistics of the scheme had been fully considered and accounted for.

Order Placement

A Lift Contractor was appointed, and the process of design and manufacture was put into action, with car finishes, lifting plans and site safety conditions being at the forefront of the discussions.

Proactive Maintenance

It was agreed that the group lifts would be started simultaneously, with one lift from each group being taken out of service, putting further strain on the already outmoded lifts.

A ‘Super-service’ was instructed from the Lift Contractor, who attended site for a week in advance of the project works commencing, to ensure the lifts that were to remain in operation had been thoroughly set up for reliability and performance, reducing the risk of breakdowns.

This proved invaluable as the project commenced and demand for the ‘in service’ lifts increased immediately.

Health & Safety Management

The advantage of starting both groups at the same time was that it ensured four lift engineers were working on site from the first day.

With the logistics of the building already being identified as challenging, it enabled heavy or cumbersome items to be correctly supported when being transported.

As part of the lifting plans, we worked with the Lift Contractors and determined that lifting eyes were to be added to the building fabric, at strategic points, to aid the safe transportation of materials.

Known Unknowns

Despite all the advanced works, lifts of this design and age often have surprises in store, and this was true of the original machines.

The large commutator units within the machines had fused with the main drive sheaves over their 60 years of service, making removal of these heavy and awkward items more labour intensive than anticipated.

Hours were dedicated to splitting this equipment into manageable sized components for safe removal.

Yet despite the unforeseen time allocated to these items, the teams worked extremely hard to keep to their original programme estimates, and lifts were reinstated into service as planned, prior to the refurbishment of the second lifts in each group.

Safety Concerns

However, during our witness test of the lift first lift installations, it was noted that the tiling selected for the lift car finishes, (despite meeting the client’s aesthetic expectations), was not of a non-slip type and we sought to find alternative solutions to prevent this becoming an issue and causing an accident.

This was overcome in the short term with the addition of a non-slip transparent film being added to the tiles, until a suitable replacement could be found.

The new flooring was identified and installed into the lifts being modernised in phase 2 of the works, with the first phase lifts having the flooring replaced out of hours to minimise disruption to lift service.

Safeguarding of Operatives

Another area where the modernisation work was particularly beneficial was for the lift engineers/operatives who work within the lift motor rooms and lift shafts.

As required by EN81-80, existing lifts should have safety upgrades undertaken during any modernisation scheme, and subsequently our specification document identified a number of shortfalls to passenger/operative safety that could be improved.

This included access to lift pit areas (improving maintenance standards in the process), task lighting, guarding and communication devices.

The client (as Owners and Operators of the lifts under LOLER regulations), have a duty of care for those working on their premises, and subsequently the work undertaken safeguards the client from potential accidents and investigations.

Client Testimonial

The final lifts were completed in late 2022 with the onsite element of the project running from January 2022. They have been delivered on time and on budget, with the finishes and performance exceeding the client’s expectations.

We got in touch with Ardent to provide us with a full condition survey for our existing lifts.

Their findings suggested a full refurbishment of our existing lifts was to be carried out, phased out to allow for adequate spread of cost to our leaseholders.

Our site is quite complex and unique but great service has been provided at all times; Ardent were also presented with challenges and complexities, given to the nature of our listed and aged buildings.

Although we started engaging them during COVID-19 restrictions, our communication has always been very positive and productive, given attention to all key aspects of our project.

I would recommend working with them and we will certainly do so for other projects.

Alessia Scola

Director, Metro Central Height RTM Company Limited

If you want to know more about this scheme or have works you feel ARDENT Lift Consultancy could support you on, please feel free to contact us.