Escalators: Elevator operators wanted

 In News

by Luca Borgonovo, SMI– Scale Mobili Italia srl, Director of Business Development and Codes 

According to the latest ELA (European Lift Association) data, Italy is among the first countries in Europe by number of escalators: there are almost 13,000! 

Public or private companies, managing airports, railway and subway stations, hospitals, shopping and business centers, own the majority of these 13,000 installations. In fact, it is no mystery that escalators and moving walkways are typically located in places with large traffic flows. 

But what kind of escalators are we talking about? These are generally quite old installations: just think that more than 50% of Italian escalators are over 20 years old.  


Impianto Sicuro Training Center (Copyright SMI Italia) 

For the facility managers of these large companies, such a high average age determines the continuous need for maintenance, rework and modernization of the escalators themselves. 

But we know that wherever there is an escalator there must be an elevator. 

Therefore, these large customers must ensure the optimal functioning of big locations having both lifts and escalators. So, they prefer a single partner able to take care of the maintenance of both elevators and escalators and to manage the different interventions in a synergistic way. 

Unfortunately, this need of a single partner often does not find an adequate answer on the market. In fact, currently there are very few independent elevator companies able to offer an all-inclusive service, as they lack expertise in escalators and moving walkways. 

Despite some similarities, the skills required for the maintenance and modernization of escalators are substantially different from those required for elevators. 


Impianto Sicuro Training Center (Copyright SMI Italia) 

This translates into an unexpressed business opportunity for lift operators, especially if we consider: 

  • the number of units managed by these large companies; 
  • the turnover coming from the maintenance of escalators, which is (on average) more than 3 times that generated by lift maintenance; 
  • the lower degree of competition characterizing the escalator market and therefore the lower pressure on prices; 
  • that maintenance operations ensure a constant turnover over the years. 

But how can lift companies equip themselves with the necessary skill-set? How can they present themselves to great companies with all the “needed credentials”? 

SMI has always supported lift companies facing the escalator and moving walkways market. To increase their autonomy in the management of these systems, SMI has devised a training course on escalators for the maintenance technicians of elevator companies. It’s a modular online and onsite program that explores the regulatory landscape and the correct procedures for maintenance, modernization and replacement of multi-brand escalators. 

The onsite courses are held at the Impianto Sicuro Training Center located near Milan. They include a theoretical approach in the training classroom and practical simulations on a real escalator on which students will be able to personally experience the main maintenance operations. 

This is one of the many SMI initiatives that allow the adequate training of competent technicians for far-sighted lift companies that also want to enter the escalator market: the creation of competencies in great demand but rarely found in the market.