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Many vessel owners and operators often wonder about finding a reliable marine elevator service company. How does one determine quality? Who is qualified? Must one use an OEM approved agent only? What does it take for a marine elevator service company to be certified? What are the rules and regulations governing the marine elevator industry?
All valid questions, but not so easy to answer. Let’s try and clear up the confusion. The following report provides a guideline for owners of marine elevators worldwide.
There are various norms for elevators on vessels (or “lifts on ships” as they are also referred to); most used are the ISO 8383 and the EN81/1 and 2 (traction and hydraulic elevators). These two norms give general guidelines on how to build marine elevators and how and by whom 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 codes of practice only set out guidelines for marine elevator settings and how to perform inspections; there are no diplomas that can be obtained.
The ISO 8383 code states the following regarding safety inspections:
Clause 12.3 of ISO 8383 contains an interesting but also confusing definition regarding safety inspections: “The maintenance operations shall be carried out by authorised lift maintenance personnel”. What is the actual definition of “authorised lift maintenance personnel”? And how can one become “authorised”?
The person responsible for lifts at AFNOR, the French Standardisation Association and its ISO institute for normalisation steers us in the right direction:
“The ISO 8383 standard has purposely been published since 1986 without that particular definition. Currently there is an ISO enquiry about possible revision of this standard.”
AFNOR is preparing a proposal which might be integrated into future revised drafts of EN 81-1 under 3.1.2: authorised 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 stated in writing who must authorise 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 authorise 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 such approval 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. Examples: vessels under a Danish flag need to have a safety inspection performed every three months. The German Flag requires a safety inspection every 2½ years. China has no rules for third party inspections at all.
For merchant vessels, our advice is to have a third party safety inspection performed each year, and a load test every five years. For ferries, offshore platforms and cruise vessels more frequent inspections and service calls are recommended, because of high frequency use (and possible abuse by passengers).
National elevator institutes (many countries have one) often set out guidelines for elevator service companies (for instance for safety inspections). These guidelines do differ somewhat by country, but in general they are set out as follows for marine elevator service companies:
It is advisable for owners to check with their liability insurer about marine elevator maintenance rules, just to be on the safe side. If a serious elevator accident does occur, they are the ones deciding on the coverage (or not) of all costs. “Negligence” is the key word in general (having your elevator serviced by a local plumber for example).
There are no rules or regulations for marine elevator service companies to be “maker approved”. Some manufacturers imply the need for it though; they insist that only OEM approved technicians are allowed to work on their marine elevators; 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 OEMs service other brands of marine elevators themselves, not following their own authorisation rules they propagate. OEMs are also quite reluctant to hand out authorisation letters to marine elevator service companies. Market protection of their own installed base can be a (silently) heard reason, but another excuse that is heard in the market is that “it’s just too much hassle to manage an agent network”. From Schindler KK: “Business style of this kind is very difficult for us to handle, so we decided not to have authorised companies”.
*Note: OEMs can however dictate to owners to use their services exclusively during the warranty period. If owners do not abide by this, their warranty claims can be declined.
There is no such thing as an ISO or Class certified company
Do not take risks: ask your marine elevator company (including OEM agents) how they guarantee top quality and safety.
Click here to access a useful handout for all friendly crew on vessels who still doubt who is authorised service marine elevators.
Contact our team for additional information! We are at your disposal 24/7.
Mr. Marine trades under Mr. Marine Elevator, Mr. Marine Ballast and Mr. Marine Instruments & Controls. Our dynamic company aims at keeping vessels safe and compliant, anywhere in the world. With technical know-how, unparalleled spare part sourcing and 24/7 responsiveness, we are your global beacon.
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