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// Industry Insights

Lift Maintenance: Managing the Operation of 3,800 lifts

By Alex Powell, Technical Manager, The FirstPort Group

Most people don’t spend much time thinking about lifts, which only shows how reliable they are when properly maintained. In the developments we manage, lifts play a crucial role in keeping residents moving, and it’s our Technical Services team’s job to keep it that way by proactively maintaining them to prevent unexpected breakdowns and to respond quickly if something does go wrong.

Residential lifts make up 3,800 of the over 100,000 mechanical and electrical assets that The FirstPort Group manages across its properties. That means we look after more lifts than Network Rail!

With such a big job on our hands, we work hard to prolong the lifecycle of the lifts we manage to ensure optimal performance, reliability, and resident satisfaction. We achieve this through a comprehensive approach to lift maintenance, repairs, and services.

Lift Lifecycle Management

All mechanical or electrical assets have a lifecycle that needs to be carefully managed, and lifts are no exception. The lifecycle for lift management includes various stages, starting from feasibility to project delivery, operation, and eventually disposal.

Throughout this lifecycle, we will always look at ways we can ensure value for money for our customers. This includes using our in-house expertise to work with contractors to find the best solution when a lift breakdown occurs. It also involves the expert and resourceful sourcing of replacement parts to maintain the lift. In practice, this means using our extensive supply base to look for the most cost-effective solution that can be delivered in the quickest time.

Managing Lift Repairs and Maintenance

We regularly monitor all our lifts so that we can stop any potential breakdowns. The best way to do this is through proactive remote diagnostics, or in simple terms, ‘smart technology’ that tells us how the lift is performing. From this feedback, we can often intervene before the residents even notice a problem is developing.

If smart technology is not installed, there are several ways we can monitor and proactively manage the equipment. If there is an increased number of call-outs due to issues with the lift or if a contractor suggests some repairs during a regular inspection, this is usually an indication that the lift needs a remedial plan.

This starts with a condition report, which includes a series of on-site surveys of the lift equipment to get a better understanding of the condition of the lift. The report looks at the risks, age, usage patterns, likelihood of failure, and severity of potential issues. We’ll then identify the feasibility and costings of any required works, the equipment needed, and create a communication plan so residents are kept updated.

We then look at creating a timeline for the remedial works, including proposing immediate works that cover issues that need sorting right away, and then look ahead for the next 12-24 months to identify potential future repairs. From there, we create a longer-term plan across a 24-month to 5-year period. This ensures a proactive approach to the management of the lift so we can keep the lift in operation for the next decade and beyond.

One of the most significant challenges we encounter in lift management is regarding obsolete equipment. When we are faced with a lift breakdown on an older lift, it may require a replacement main board that is no longer produced, and the wait for a custom part to be made can take some time. That’s why we are always looking for opportunities to modernise the lift equipment at our developments at the right time. New lift technology generally mitigates the risk of obsolete parts and enhances the efficiency and potential for disruptions.

Securing and Managing the Right Lift Specialists

We know one size doesn’t always fit all, so we make sure we align the right suppliers to the types of lifts at each development, whether that’s for a retirement development or a large city apartment block. We not only pair our developments with the appropriate national suppliers, but we also appoint independent companies to support them as well. Each development tends to have a main supplier, and then we will have a secondary supplier in place that can assist. We have regular meetings with the lift teams and the supply base, and our own technical team is on hand to assist and support our contractors in a personalised way; after all, we know our lifts better than anyone.

Regulatory Compliance in Lift Management

Adhering to industry regulations and safety standards forms an essential part of lift management. By following best practice guidelines and regularly conducting safety assessments on our lift equipment, we not only uphold legal obligations but also prioritise the well-being of our residents and visitors.

If you want to find out more about how we manage lifts across FirstPort’s developments, visit: