By: Nick Bosch van Rosenthal MSc. Eng.
Many owners of marine elevators often question who they should use as a reliable marine elevator service company. How can one determine quality? Who is qualified? Must one use a OEM approved agent only? What makes a marine elevator service company certified? What are the rules and regulations in the marine elevator market?
These are very valid questions but not so easy to answer. In the following report a guideline is given for owners of marine elevators worldwide.
ISO and EN
There are various norms for elevators on vessels; most used is the ISO 8383 and the EN81/1 and 2 (traction and hydraulic elevators). These two norms give a general guideline how to build marine elevators and how and by who they should be inspected on a regular basis. Owners often think that marine elevator companies can be ISO 8383 or EN81/1 approved, but such a thing just doesn’t exist. The ISO and EN norms set out guidelines for marine elevator settings and how to perform inspections; but are no diploma’s that can be obtained.
The ISO 8383 norm states the following regarding safety inspections (to download via http://www.iso.org/iso/home/store/catalogue_tc/catalogue_detail.htm?csnumber=15548)
There is an interesting but also confusing definition in the above ISO 8383 article 12.3 regarding safety inspections: The maintenance operations shall be carried out by ‘authorized lift maintenance personnel’. What is the actual definition of “authorized lift maintenance personnel”? And how can one become ‘authorized’?
The person responsible for lifts at Afnor (Swiss based central ISO institute for normalization; www.afnor.org +33 141 627 644) helps us into the right direction.
“The ISO 8383 standard is purposely published since 1986 without that particular definition. Currently there is an ISO enquiry about possible revision of this standard. If the result would be “revision requested“, a list of definition among which the requested one could be addressed.”
Afnor is preparing a proposal which might be integrated in future drafts of EN 81-1 revision under 3.1.2: authorized person (personne autorisée): only a competent person with the permission of the owner of the lift may have access to restricted areas (machinery and pulley spaces, lift well, pit and car roof).
If Afnor does implement this amendment, it would finally be in writing who must authorize marine elevator service companies. It is the owner, not the OEM or an OEM approved agent.
Classes (Lloyds, DNV, BV, GL, etc.) only refer to the ISO 8383 and do not add further instructions or guidelines, except for RINA. In RINA’s paragraph about elevators the need for the owner to authorize the marine elevator service company is added. Quite interesting, this is exactly what AFNOR might be adding to the ISO 8383!
People sometimes think that marine elevator companies can be Class approved, but this does not exist. Classes do not have an approval system in place for marine elevator service companies.
Each flag state can have its own additional rulings. Some examples: vessels under a Danish flag need to have a safety inspection performed every three months. The German Flag is asking for a safety inspection every 2½ years. China has no rules for third party inspections at all.
For merchant vessels we advice to have a third party safety inspection performed each year, and a load test every 5 years. For ferries, offshore platforms and cruise vessels more frequent inspections and service calls are recommendable because of high frequent use (and possible abuse by passengers),
National elevator institutes
National elevator institutes (many countries have one) often set out guidelines for elevator service companies (for instance for safety inspections). It does differ somewhat per country but in general they are set out as follows for marine elevator service companies:
- Business processes need to be formalised
- A liability insurance of sufficient coverage needs to be in place (€1 million+)
- Technicians need to have had formal elevator training, have a national recognised diploma, and/or have a substantial number of years of experience in the field
- For marine elevators on offshore platforms special certificates apply (NOGEPA, OPITO, HUET)
- A formalised plan for safe working and risk assessment needs to be in place
- All technicians need to be trained and aware of safety.
It is advisable for owners to check with their liability insurer about marine elevator maintenance rules, just to be on the save side. If a serious elevator accident does occur, they are the ones deciding on the coverage of all cost (or not). ‘Negligence’ is the key word in general (having your elevator serviced by a local plumber for example).
Maker approved agents
On top of the before mentioned rulings there are no rules or regulations for marine elevator service companies to be ‘maker approved’. Some makers imply the need for it though; only OEM approved technicians would be allowed to work on their marine elevator; an owner could be held liable in case of a possible incident.
This point is understandable from a commercial point of view, but legally there is no basis for it and no liability insurer can force an owner to do so. In fact, it is forbidden within the EU to protect the market in such a way *.
Some interesting details. Often OEM’s service other brands of marine elevators themselves, not following their own authorization rules they propagate. OEM’s are also quite reluctant to hand out authorization letters to marine elevator service companies. Market protection of their own installed base can be a (silently) heard reason, but it just being too much hassle to manage an agent network is also one that is heard in the market. From Schindler KK: “Business style of this kind is very difficult for us to handle, so we decided not to have authorized companies”.
*Note: However, OEM’s can dictate owners to use their services exclusively during the warranty period. If not, warranty claims can be declined.
- ISO or Class certified companies do not exist
- Do not take risks: ask your marine elevator company (incl. OEM agents) how they guarantee top quality and safety.
Copyright: Mr Elevator BV (2009) Netherlands – by Nick Bosch van Rosenthal MSc.