UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Lifts, also known as elevators, are essential for tall buildings. But you don’t have to have a skyscraper to consider them. Storeyed apartments, shops and even storeyed mansions belonging to the most extravagant muloodi’s can include a lift. Lifts not only facilitate movement between floors but also enhance the aesthetics, status and value of the building.
In Uganda, it is required that any building higher than four floors must have a lift installed, according to Standard 145 of the National Building Code 2019.
However, many buildings in the country that are taller than four floors do not have lifts, despite this mandate.
This article delves into the different types of elevators, elevator and house plans, and the process of procuring and installing, including cost factors, maintenance, and malfunction.
Types of Elevators
Samson Oluoch Onyango, a project engineer at KONE Uganda Limited says different types of elevators exist depending on the usage.
“The capacity of the lift required for a certain building is determined through analysis of a building’s traffic flow and the energy consumed varies over a wide range from a small capacity kitchen lift for ferrying food or bank lifts for ferrying money from one floor to the next, to large capacity elevators for example car parking lifts and hospital bed lifts,” Oluoch says.
Elevators come in different types depending on the building’s traffic flow and the purpose it serves. Different types of lifts available in the market are:
- Passenger Elevators: These are the most common elevators used in commercial and residential buildings. They can accommodate passengers, shopping trolleys, wheelchairs, and other lightweight goods.
- Bed Elevators: These are special types of elevators used in hospitals to transport beds with patients. They can also accommodate medical equipment and staff.
- Freight Elevators: These elevators are used to transport heavy goods and equipment. They are commonly found in industrial settings and warehouses.
- Service Elevators: They are used for maintenance and housekeeping purposes.
- Firefighting Elevators: These are specifically designed to transport firefighters and their equipment in the event of a fire outbreak.
- Kitchen Elevators: They are used in commercial kitchens to transport food from one floor to another.
Elevator and House Plan
Elevators can be installed in new or existing buildings. It is advisable to consult with an elevator provider before constructing the building. This is because different elevator providers have different requirements for building the lift shaft.
However, the basic requirements are the same across the board and can be adjusted depending on the building’s design and government regulations.
Engineers and architects can work together to create a building plan that will accommodate an elevator. They can decide on the best location for the elevator, whether it will be inside or outside the building, and the type of elevator to be installed.
For residential buildings, elevators should be installed in easy-to-access places that do not interfere with other activities.
Installation and the Building Code
According to Doreen Kyosimire, an architect and lecturer at Makerere University, any building higher than four floors without a lift is technically illegal and would be demolished in countries where such laws are taken seriously.
Many property owners, particularly those of commercial buildings, tend to think that lifts are needlessly expensive and take up space that would otherwise be used for business purposes.
However, elevators add value to properties, particularly residential and commercial buildings. As Kyosimire explains, if a developer builds a condominium or commercial building and includes a lift, the market value increases.
Procuring a Lift
The average cost of a lift is $50,000 (about UGX 188 million), which is not easy to meet for many developers.
However, according to Yoyota Elevators Ltd, a company that deals in lifts, the most affordable lift for a six-storey building goes for not less than $40,000 (about UGX 141 million).
All lifts are bespoke and manufactured specifically for each customer’s needs because each building provides different dimensions for the lift.
When a developer requests a lift, the chosen lift company visits the building site and takes measurements, such as the number of floors, floor-to-floor height, and the length, and width of the elevator shaft. At this point, the company contacts the manufacturers with the details.
The production process takes about a month, after which there is an inspection before shipping. It takes approximately a month for the lift to reach Mombasa and two weeks to reach Kampala.
Installation takes about two weeks to one month to complete, after which the government lift inspector inspects it before issuing a license. Most lift companies offer a one-year warranty and one year of free servicing.
Kyosimire adds that while there is a culture of not adhering to building rules in Uganda, some developers are cash-strapped during the construction phase, and they choose to do away with the expense of installing a lift altogether.
However, she explains that there is a smart way to work around it.
In cases where the funds are not enough to install a lift in the building, developers can include the elevator well (shaft) in the building but defer the installation until later when the funds become available. This option is better than incorporating the lift option as an afterthought when the authorities come, in a bid to save the building from demolition or fines.
Fred Mulabajji, a professional elevator technician with more than a decade of experience, explains that lifts require more regular check-ups and maintenance than vehicles.
A lift in a busy building such as a condominium or mall must be checked for any issues every month, and during routine checks, the average cost of maintenance services is about UGX 600,000.
Technicians check the bearings and replace those that need replacement. They also check the electrics and replace worn-out switches.
To ensure optimal operation, elevator systems require regular inspection and testing. The maintenance control plan consists of features such as recommended intervals for servicing and testing, directions for how to maintain the equipment, and code extracts for proper maintenance.
Failing to have routine inspections performed by a qualified elevator professional can lead to shutdowns, which can ultimately cause safety concerns.
Different components of the elevator require maintenance at different intervals. Elevator doors require more maintenance than the motor for optimum operation.
Monthly maintenance is necessary, not including call-outs, repairs, and audits. The cost of maintenance varies depending on the type of equipment, capacity, and add-ons like CCTV, all-time access control, and connect/info screen.
Elevator malfunction is a common occurrence, and it can lead to serious accidents. Proper maintenance and inspection of the elevator can prevent elevator malfunction. Elevator malfunction can occur due to various reasons such as:
- Electrical Issues: Electrical problems can cause elevators to malfunction. They include power outages, blown fuses, and wiring issues.
- Mechanical Issues: Mechanical issues are common in elevators. They include motor failure, faulty doors, worn-out brakes, and damaged cables.
- User Error: Improper use of elevators can cause them to malfunction. This includes overloading the elevator, holding the doors open, or pressing multiple buttons at once.
Meanwhile, Harriet Nagawa, a resident of Najjera, who has an elevator on her four storeyed building, recommends daily lookout for any possible failure as well as putting in practice all the dos and don’ts as specified by the installation and manufacturing company to avoid elevator malfunction.
“While you don’t have to scrutinise every aspect of your elevator, it is a great idea to inspect your elevator daily as you use it,” she said.
Regular inspections and maintenance can help detect elevator malfunctions early enough, preventing accidents.
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