AEMT - Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades

25 July 2019
Elevated Engineering Services – a business on the up-and-up!
Based out of Manchester, Elevated Engineering Services (EES) continue to develop a unique service and repair capability at their Middleton headquarters. In his 50th year in the electro-mechanical industry, John Mellors, founder and Managing Director of EES speaks to Steve Ashman of EMIR about the life of the business and its ties with the lift and escalator sector.

A lifetime of experience

John Mellors joined Hall Electric Motor Repairs in Oldham as a 15-year-old hands-on apprentice and has remained in the industry ever since. Hall’s was originally a DC motor manufacturer. It closed during WWII and then reincarnated itself as a motor repairer. This is when John joined the company and where he remained for the majority of his career. He learned the trade from every angle, as a technician on the shop floor and commercially, out on the road. “There had been a number of buyouts over the years,” explains John, “Hall Rewinds, as it eventually became, were finally purchased and integrated into Taylor & Goodman. By that time, I was the National Engineering Director working with the MD Pete Ryder. We looked after the 9 or 10 operational centre’s that Taylor & Goodman owned at that time.” 

John recalls 2009 as a pivotal year. With the planned closure of the Northern branches of Taylor & Goodman, he took the bold step to cross the line from employee to business owner and Elevated Engineering Services was born.  From a 4,000 sq ft premises and a handful of skilled labour, EES turned over £250k in the first year. Ten years later and with a turnover in excess of £2.5m, life is somewhat different.  Simon Horn, EES’s Finance Director speaks about his appointment just as the business turned its first million pounds. “Thankfully John had the foresight to install an ERP solution called EMIR in the early days of the company, which we could grow into. We had control over the whole process and the costs. The software gave us the ability to measure profitability on the work in progress as well as work completed, whilst keeping the burden of administration light throughout the process.”  Now with a team of commercial directors, operational managers and engineers, EES benefit from the combined skills of over 45 people.  

The business operates roughly on a 50:50 split of workshop and on-site repair with an equal number of people paired to each side. Alongside conventional repair, service work and their speciality lift capability, EES hold strong relationships with major facilities management companies. These have a presence in some of the best-known venues around the country including: museums, hospitals, business centres and hotels. This, John explains, is the draw for younger engineers, who have the desire to work away from home at some of the UKs most iconic landmarks and on a variety of different applications. 

Service and repair excellence

There is a sense of pride when EES discusses the achievements of the business over the last 10 years. For Simon, the company’s Finance Director, it was down to John’s decision to invest all profits back into the business. “We are especially proud of what we’ve achieved in the workshop. It’s segregated well and allows us to work in the order we want.”  

“Moving into these premises 2 years ago we started with the basic shell of a unit. We installed a 7-tonne crane and began the enviable task of designing from the ground up. New offices were installed on a mezzanine floor. We invested in storage, milling and turning machines, ovens, and DC & AC rewinding. We are now a business that can meet the requirements and expectations from the customer. We are no longer reliant on contractors, reducing our overheads and lead times.” 

In the lift side of the business the skills and capability needed don’t stop at electro-mechanical engineering. Category 3 lift engineer training means that they have the ability to stop and commission the movement of the lift, a unique aspect of the EES service delivery. There are few companies who can boast the capability of specialised scaffolding teams with access to the lift shaft. EES engineers can work at height in enclosed and potentially dangerous environments. Servicing and repairing all aspects of the lift’s engineering, including gearbox and motor repairs, re-roping, and control system design and implementation. As we spoke about the many challenges of running the operation, John was eager to tell me how the company had restructured after moving into the new premises to ensure that the right skills were evenly distributed across the business. With two operation managers, a health and safety officer, sales & HR and a steady supply of apprentices in the right place, the transition from small to a medium enterprise had been a costly, but important commitment. 

Up-up-and-away!

John stresses, “We are not a lift company, we carry out repairs to the lift industry; that’s all we do!” To be truthful, what makes EES unique is the way it embraces the working ethos of both the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) and the Lift and Escalator Industry Association (LEIA). John explains. “As we see it, we are the only company in the country that can offer a turn-key service. Everything from isolating the equipment for maintenance, to putting the lift back into action.”

With trained Level 3 lift engineers EES circumnavigate the usual delays caused by having to call out lift engineers to lock off, isolate and recommission each unit. Working for all of the major lift companies such as OTIS, Schindler, ThyssenKrupp, Kone, and their facilities management clients, who hold the keys to an abundance of motor, pump and lift work. This means EES can be relied on to complete all aspects of their projects. 

How is the market changing?

We discussed and speculated over the future of the industry “In a way”, John states, “everything points to the efficiencies that you get from using AC motors and invertors, although on the other hand, DC motors come with fantastic speed control and high torques. We thought as a business DC repairs were dropping off, but we’ve just got a customer on board who will only use DC motors and they won’t change at all.  So, whatever the reason, if the motor isn’t working, they will still have it repaired.”
…and what is their reasoning?
“They have thousands of units all over the country. I’ve sat down with the engineers and asked why they don’t they install more efficient systems and the answer is; there would be too much cost to do all of them.” Every week work comes in from that client. As a fail-safe a DC winder has been employed, not just to cover the work, but to train up one of the apprentices to keep the skill set under one roof. Clearly technology is driving the future of the industry, however, there are still requirements for older equipment to be maintained, overhauled, and repaired. These machines will remain in the food-chain for many years to come and, as I discovered, “new” was not the always the answer.
There is no doubt that inverters have made a significant contribution to lowering the carbon footprint in recent years and EES have been part of that drive. “The phrase ‘energy saving’ is what purchasing managers want to hear,” John recalls, “EES took on a massive project for one of the major banks which took over 3 months to review and commission. The project saved them hundreds of thousands of pounds, and it was all down to inverters.” The solution involved the installation of redundant machines on processing lines, enabling the division of work from one machine to another and allow for planned downtime. The result was no unexpected loss of production. Something the client had never dreamed would happen! These are common AEMT stories and are repeated over and over within the industry. AEMT members have the capability and processes to demonstrate the potential return on investment when improving the efficiency of a plant. Something few customers should turn down!
For a man that has invested in technologies such as cloud servers and remote access through EMIR ERP, thermography and laser alignment, inverters and control panels; John is comfortable with the benefits these inventions have brought. They have enabled EES to deliver quality on time. There is, however, one aspect of industry that does not light his passions.
“I’m not a great believer in rewind companies monitoring motors to be quite truthful, it can easily be used for self-gain, and I tell customers that. If customers want machinery to be monitored, there are companies out there that will do that, without the interest of repair in mind.”
Over time, this technology will be supplied by manufacturers, or retrofitted onto older equipment, meaning most repairers will be faced with this proactive technology. As an industry, we will need to decide a strategy on how to promote the advantages or disadvantages as we see it. Many of the AEMT Award entries this year show that remote monitoring and system diagnosis are hot topics of discussion. Perhaps, stepping back and allowing the customer to have complete transparency of our approach is a way to promoting repair integrity.
 

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Unit 1 Townley Park Hanson Street, Middleton, M24 2UF, England
0161 655 4421
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