Competition watchdog accepts offer by two suppliers to sell lift spare parts to 3rd-party contractors

Each HDB estate typically has multiple brands of lifts installed and town councils can choose to either appoint original lift installers to carry out maintenance services, or appoint a third-party contractor.
Each HDB estate typically has multiple brands of lifts installed and town councils can choose to either appoint original lift installers to carry out maintenance services, or appoint a third-party contractor.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's competition watchdog has accepted voluntary commitments by two lift part suppliers to sell spare parts to third-party lift contractors on a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis".

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) said in a statement on Wednesday (March 28) that finalised versions of the commitments given by BNF Engineering and C&W Services Operations, which provide BNF and Ulift brands of lifts respectively, fully address concerns relating to the supply of their brands of lift spare parts.

In 2016, CCS said it was investigating alleged claims that some lift manufacturers had refused to supply vital spare parts, such as motherboards, to third-party contractors for the maintenance of lifts in Housing Board estates.

It had said then (July 2016) that five companies were being probed.

Each HDB estate typically has multiple brands of lifts installed and town councils can choose to either appoint original lift installers to carry out maintenance services, or appoint a third-party contractor- who is typically cheaper -said the CCS in Wednesday's statement.

There are about 24,000 lifts in HDB estates across Singapore. Third-party contractors who wish to tender for maintenance projects that include multiple lift brands would require brand-specific lift spare parts. A lift manufacturer has an advantage when tendering for maintenance contracts, as it has the parts for its own brand of lifts.

"If a lift company or distributor does not provide proprietary but essential lift spare parts to third-party lift maintenance contractors, other lift maintenance contractors may be prevented from effectively competing for contracts to maintain and service lifts of that particular brand in Singapore," said the CCS.

 
 

Following the anti-competition probe, lift part suppliers BNF Engineering and C&W Services Operations came up with their voluntary offers.

Public consultation was sought in November last year, and the commitments were amended and finalised following feedback.

Some terms and conditions also apply to the third-party contractors seeking the parts. They must be registered with the Building and Construction Authority under both the "Lift and Escalator Installation" and "Lift Contractors" workheads and also agree not to modify the spare parts provided.

The CCS will continue its other investigations regarding access to essential lift spare parts for third-party lift maintenance contractors.

There have been a string of HDB lift incidents and breakdowns in recent years. In January this year, an elderly man was injured after a lift plunged three floors in Sengkang.

In 2016, a 77-year-old man died in hospital after his mobility scooter toppled as he was backing out of a lift in Pasir Ris in May 2016. The lift was not level with the lobby floor when it stopped.