Tough Love – Time for Elevator Biz to Grow Up

Button PushWe all have that moment when we need to hear the truth: to ignore it means growth will cease and improvements halt.  When it comes to elevators, that time for truth is now and so we need to dish out some tough love. Often times we associate “tough love” with teen angst and pimply, overwrought middle-school students, but as it applies to our industry as well as the elevator business, it is at a crossroad. As an industry, vertical transportation sits astride two differing paths and it is time for a sober conversation, not hyperbole and not blind to truth.

That crossroad is between the old fashioned stick-built method of elevators or the more modern modular elevators and whether modular ultimately makes sense for all low to mid-rise elevator applications. Should modular elevators be the first choice?

To make an assessment a few facts about elevators, modular and stick-built is in order.  So here is a list of truths that the industry needs to come to grips with:

  1. Modular is here to stay. Despite the best efforts of those in the weary old-guard elevator business, modular elevators are being placed in more and more locations around the US and Canada. Phoenix Modular Elevator had 40% growth last year and on pace for nearly that same growth this year.
  2. The elevator business is too busy. Maintenance and current installs are stacking up and delaying construction. To keep up with demand the growth for the occupation of elevator technician is 12%! That is just to keep up. One of the ways to lessen the time burden of installation is to go modular as an alternative. We just received a call from a frustrated general contractor that couldn’t even get thumbnail numbers and no promises for six-months. Depending on the location in Canada and the United States there is a big shortage of qualified technicians.
  3. Don’t waste your best assets. Our industry is too smart to be hanging rails. We have very busy and great elevator techs across the continent, but unfortunately too many are lugging rails and screwing together elevator cars instead of setting up elevators to run properly. When you have limited resources, you must use those resources wisely. With modular elevators the grunt work is already done leaving professionals to do the work that is needed.
  4. Safer. Speaking of grunt work, a report by the Center for Construction Research and Training found the major causes of lost-time injuries to elevator constructors were being struck by an object, overexertion (especially in lifting), falls, and being caught in/between (such as between the elevator shaft and the elevator) in that order. Too many elevator technicians strain themselves installing doors, lifting rails and building elevators cars in cramped spaces. Modular does away with all those risks. They are safer to install.
  5. Financial commonsense. With modular elevators many more units can be installed faster. This will generate more income quickly on lucrative maintenance contracts for growth minded businesses. The business that adopts the modular concept will be installing more units than competitors and win the race of picking up maintenance agreements. After all commercial quality modular hydraulic elevators take only a week to get up and running.
  6. Quality is the same or better. One of the biggest arguments against modular is quality. The argument is largely out of lack of knowledge as elevators are highly regulated with very specific standards, modular or not. Also, there are just a handful of companies that produce most of the components in any elevator. We use those standard, highly regulated parts! When it comes to the hoistway, ours are always plum and level and so are the rails. They are fixed in place by welds that are inspected closely for quality. Every hoistway is constantly measure and tested because of the production process. No stick-built elevator can compare.

So what is the outcome of the above truths? When we say faster, safer and smarter we are not just saying it. It is true and modular warrants consideration for most project.

With that said, the primary take-a-way is if you are operating an elevator company, contact us to find out how to start installing modular elevators today for all of your low and mid-rise projects. They are safer and more profitable. We can put you in touch with some of our installers and assist you with training. Most of the new installers we have are surprised at how fast and easy they are. Also if you have been contacted to install a modular, don’t be afraid of the product. They go in all the time in almost every jurisdiction in the United States from New York to Los Angeles.

The elevator biz is at a crossroad. Make the wise choice, go with modular.

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Hoistway Only Packages

FIrst Shipping outTime is always the nemesis of the construction industry.  Everything done at the job site is measured in minutes, not hours, and squeezing even a small amount of time out of a project can make a big difference.

The problem is that, often, cutting time off the completion of the project can only be accomplished at the cost of quality. As the old saying goes, “I can do things good, fast, or cheap. Pick two.” So it is very rare when a high quality product is available at a fair price that can accomplish your goals quickly. However, that is just the case with Phoenix Modular Elevator hoistway packages.

As we all know building the hoistway or shaft is a real time suck on any building project. Hoistways are often the first thing that goes up on a job site and temperatures and weather conditions can play havoc with the erection of the shaft and the schedule of the whole build. Buying the hoistway from us easily solves that problem. Our hoistways are produced quickly, because they are manufactured on an assembly-line in a factory with no weather delays. They install quickly in just a handful of hours. But more than that they are higher quality than the stick-built alternative because they are always produced plumb, straight and come fire-rated. Lastly, the investment is comparable in cost.

Here are the benefits of a Phoenix Modular Elevator hoistway:

  • Perfectly plumb due to our process, easy inspections and quality controls.
  • Custom dimensions and they are stackable for any height.
  • Manufactured in three weeks.
  • Installed in a few hours.
  • Already fire rated.
  • Interior or exterior placement. Wherever you need them at any point of the build.

Options Include

  • Free standing. Single towers need no special bracing or tied to the building.
  • Can be gravity load bearing.
  • Pre-installed rails means perfectly plumb every time. Less for the elevator installer to do.

Of course we can produce the hoistway with an elevator pre-installed as well.  The elevators are comprised of our steel hoistway with the elevator car and components installed inside and completely pre-wired. This makes our elevators and hoistways the fastest and easiest to install in the elevator industry.

If you are looking for the best way to trim time off you next multi-story project, a hoistway or elevator from Phoenix Modular Elevator is the wisest choice.

Presidential Facial Hair – Razor Blades – Elevators

Ranking the pantheon of presidents of the United States is somewhat of a pastime. You can look at everything from GDP to foreign policy to find the right criteria.  However, one of the more creative rankings of our Grand Poobahs comes in an area often overlooked; the category of facial hair. There has been more than one chief executive sporting whiskers of various lengths in a myriad of styles, so ranking them can be a challenge. I will give it my best shot here. By the way, be patient this really does have something to do with elevators.

96053-004-859609B6One cannot forget the almost alien looking Martin Van Buren. His fin like sideburns was an obvious attempt at trying to direct people’s attention away from his bald head. Also, despite his facial growth, it is not true that he was the inspiration behind the “Shape of Water”. He was sporting his fancy whiskers before the word “sideburns” was invented (what a trendsetter). But because he does not have the full beard or mustache, I have to rank him third from the top.

 

chester_arthurChester A. Arthur likewise rejected the conventional full beard (although very close to it) for a more creative choice of facial hair. His mutton chops and stylish mustache gave him a look that few tried to pull off. One can only wonder how things would have been different for Richard Nixon if he had gone with the “Chester A. Arthur”. He is an easy number two on the list.

 

1200px-James_Abram_Garfield,_photo_portrait_seatedFor a true manly, man’s beard you have to look no further than James A. Garfield. Using the metric of thickness plus length puts him just a whisker above other great presidents. Yes Benjamin Harrison and Ulysses S. Grant went full on beard but far and away Garfield’s was the best. He is number one!

 

 

b1d218b89c4ed5bae56bafabb259fb5cThere are many runner ups to these facial hair giants such as Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, the venerable Abe Lincoln and the absolute best soup strainer of the them all on the face of of the rotund William Howard Taft. Taft was the last american president with a notable mustache while in office. He served as president from March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913. Since that time all of the presidents have been clean shaven.

Just a few more paragraphs to the elevator part of the blog. Keep reading. Who is to blame for the absence of facial hair on our more recent leaders and candidates? The safety razor carries much of the blame. It spelled the end of the bushy, bearded seekers of the oval office. Although other safety razors were available before 1913, Gillette created a safety razor that was widely distributed to troops in World War I (1914-1918). So gas masks would fit snugly, beards and long whiskers became forbidden on the Western Front.  The men who served in the armed services were allowed to keep the shaving apparatus and the habit of shaving daily. So ended the reign of mustaches and beards.

Since that time and until recently, Gillette and Schick dominated the world of shaving with largely the same bill of fair; blades and plastic handles. To improve perceived quality they simply started slapping on additional blades and more substantial handles. As they were a near monopoly, prices went up, and up and up. Other than the electric shaver, shaving cream and the disposable safety razor remained top of the heap.

Then entered a new age of shaving. Tired of the old-fashioned and overpriced blades, online and delivery blades became all the rage. The difference: not much (if any) in quality, but delivery had changed the game of shaving forever. The new startup companies were so successful that in 2017 some of the big boys started direct mailing their blades as well.

Elevators (see I told you I would get to elevators) are now at the same crossroads and delivery of the product has now changed forever. The result is the old-fashioned way of installing an elevator is soon to go the way of facial hair on the face of a presidential candidate. Why? Because now a commercial quality elevator can literally be installed in a couple days not half a year. The product is still the same, the method of delivery is the only real thing that has changed. If you don’t believe me take a look at this video.

 

There are no more delays due to weather (trust me it was cold when the video was shot) or trades crossing over each other’s paths. Just a handful of days, a crane, and a couple of elevator technicians doing what a full-blown team over several weeks had to do in the past.

It is time to reconsider. Fix your elevator pain points, break away from the old-fashioned ways, and contact us for a quick quote on you next multi-story project. We make elevators easy. Let us show you how.

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Our latest install! We make elevators easy!

Every elevator needs to be this easy and fast to install. Just give the video a watch and then call us for your next multi-story project.

Find the Magic Number – Elevators Per Building

scott-szarapka-293416-unsplash
Photo by Scott Szarapka on Unsplash

Talk about a tricky subject! Few try to tackle it in a blog because no matter what I write, there will be people that take exception. Why is this not just some simple formula with occupancy numbers, building type and square feet? Because it is more complex than that. So don’t worry I will get to rough numbers to help guide you on your project, but with a few caveats. The most important being, a qualified elevator consultant can be a huge help in this area. Consider finding the right one. Now on to the things that you should consider.

The number of elevators needed has a lot to do with many factors that may not be known when a building is in the planning stages and the first thing that gets dropped into the architect’s plans are the ways to go up and down in a building. So do your best with the list below so you can take the rough numbers I am providing and tweak them closer to your needs. Here are the things to consider:

  1. Elevator use. Just people going to work is one thing. Furniture is another. Don’t make the mistake of getting too small a unit. The weight an elevator can hold (larger loads) can change the number you may need. One for passengers one for heavy items.
  2. Who is going to be using the elevator? An elevator that just meets ADA requirements is too small for a gurney.  The DJ and caterers going to an upstairs dance hall will need more capacity and apartment complexes may need a larger/taller elevator cab.
  3. Total number of floors. That goes without saying.
  4. Total travel distance overall and between floors. You can have two floors a hundred feet apart. That would require more speed or multiple stops close together where the elevator will never reach full speed.
  5. What is a reasonable wait time? Some buildings like hotels and offices want a time as close to 25 seconds. Apartments can have a time of up to a minute. Are you willing to pay to keep that number short?
  6. Peak times of use will always slow people down. Will you be willing to foot the bill for another elevator to handle heavy traffic in mornings and evenings? Do you have peak times at all?
  7. Will there be a known traffic pattern? For instance the world’s fastest elevator only travels from the ground floor to a hotel lobby 95 stories up. It was built to accommodate a known traffic pattern.
  8. Square feet of the floors. If a building is very small, the footprint of the elevator may eat up more space than practical and the distance to walk from the elevator to an apartment will be short. In a hotel with multiple wings, many elevators may be needed.
  9. Building codes! These are more influential than most of the above. You must know what is allowed and what is required in your city, state, county or other jurisdiction.

All of the above will ultimately influence your decision making process.  Just keep in mind the point is to serve the maximum number of people with the most minimal waiting time at the highest peak times to disperse the population as fast as possible.

So with all that stuff to consider, here are rough numbers I promised. Remember to be nice when you respond to this blog. Keep in mind that these are very rough number to consider.

Office buildings:

  1. One elevator for approximately 50,000 square feet in use. For every two floors or two and a half floors consider adding one more elevator.
  2. Try not to exceed eight total elevators in a single grouping. No group should serve more than 16 or more floors.
  3. Consider a special service elevator if you are going over four floors. When you get closer to ten it is probably must logistically.
  4. Remember some floors may increase the number of elevators. A common lunchroom contained on a single floor room may force the need for another elevator due to traffic.

Hotels:

  1. Provide one elevator for every 75 rooms or so with a minimum of one elevator
    up to three floors and add one more for four floors. Don’t go past 150 feet from farthest room to elevator.
  2. As you build up and add rooms, remember to add elevators per every 75 rooms.
  3. To help room service and maid service add a service elevator for every two passenger elevators.
  4. Ballrooms, meeting rooms, or expanded lobby areas above the entry level can increase the number of elevators.

Apartments / Condos / Dormitories:

  1. There should be one elevator for every 90 units. A maximum of 150 feet from
    the elevators to the farthest elevator is a must.
  2. City apartments and really high priced units can require an elevator for every 50 – 60 units.
  3. Always have an elevator with higher ceilings (9 feet) and higher weight capacity (3500 lbs) for moving furniture and heavy items. If you are over 10 floors, a service elevator or small freight elevator should be considered.
  4. Four stories or more above grade a gurney sized elevator is required.

Medical Facilities:

  1. In buildings with consistent staff and visitor traffic, consider separate passenger elevators for staff and patients.
  2. Two elevator minimum and one for every 100 beds after that, that patients can access.
  3. Additional elevators may be required if visitors are higher depending on the location of the medical facility.
  4. Dirty elevators maybe needed. Moving medical waste sometimes requires a special elevator.
  5. Additional elevators may be required if operating areas, cafeterias, laundry, central supplies, etc. are on upper levels.

This is my personal cheat sheet based upon our research and experience. But, keep in mind that these number can and will change based upon the factors above and other variables not listed or not even thought of yet. The elevator world is still grappling with large mixed use projects that incorporate several of the above categories into one facility. So be thoughtful, ask plenty of questions and if you need the help contact us or a qualified consultant.

After all of this if you have a project in mind and need a thumbnail number just click the link.

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Quality Craftsman – Modular Building

Working woodOne of the knocks that seems to never go away when discussing modular construction is that a modular building is always cookie cutter, the same boring products cut out of the same boring mold. In some people’s thinking, because there is consistency in manufacturing, quality craftsmanship seems to be elusive or nonexistent.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Let’s start with the fact that if a building is manufactured, not built one block or stick at a time, overall quality is higher and construction is faster. There are no weather delays nor delays due to one trade waiting on another. With modular, a four-story hotel can be ready to open six months after the foundation is poured. A similar stick-built can take a year to 16 months or longer. Efficiency is bumped up and costly mistakes are reduced with modular construction. There is less waste due to planned manufacturing.

The efficiency and quality are increased because templates are used in the process and because the building is done on an assembly line. With all that consistency comes quality. Quality control inspections are completed more often and are done more easily as the building takes place, not after the building is constructed. So speed and quality increase simultaneously in the off-site construction industry.

More time, more funds.

What this can mean is that there are actually more time and more funds to have specialty items that can really separate your building project from others.

Working HandsWe see these benefits especially in the modular elevator business in the cab interiors. If you are dealing with a stick-built elevator from one of the big companies, they act as if you are pulling teeth is you ask for something outside of their preconceived plan. One of our customers made this point when he contacted us for pricing and to discuss his ideas. He told us that he was happy that someone was finally willing to talk with him about the elevator he wanted. He was not given the time of day by the standard elevator companies and they acted as if his ideas were impossible. The price they quoted him made sure it was impossible. We came to the rescue and made his dreams a reality.

Because we manufacture the elevator in our factory, we have the leeway to let clients express themselves through the design. Not only can we make a cab interior look like anything you want, we like doing it. We have skilled craftsmen on staff that can make your elevator look how you want, not just a choice of six laminates and standard interiors. If you are going to need several elevators over time, we will make the templates so future projects can be replicated to your specifications.

Now don’t misunderstand me.

We too can provide standard interior packages at three levels of features. They are all very nice and would fit in any building project; the difference is that we are not moored to just those three options, and we certainly won’t give you a blank stare or overprice something special so we don’t have to do it. It is because all the nuts and bolts of the construction are easily and efficiently manufactured that we have the time and resources to create something truly special and separate you from your competition.

If you have a project in mind that needs a special touch just click the link below for a quick quote!

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Awards Continue for Phoenix Modular Elevator

S-Figueroa-6Phoenix Modular Elevator was honored as an affiliate to the Award of Distinction with partner Silver Creek Industries at the annual World of Modular Conference held in Hollywood, Florida in March of this year. The World of Modular event is sponsored by the Modular Building Institute.

Awards of Distinction are the modular building industry’s premier awards program, recognizing design excellence in structures built using prefabricated systems. This is the second year in a row that Phoenix Modular Elevator has walked away with hardware as a recognition of the product and use.

The award winning project, KIPP Academy, is a three-story, 27,429 square-foot structure which houses an entire charter school campus and related functional spaces. The building contains 18 classrooms, a kitchen, multipurpose space, administrative spaces, interior corridors, and an interior elevator provided by Phoenix Modular Elevator. The building exterior features plaster with a bright color palette and aluminum glazing systems. The finished building reflects the coordinated efforts of all team members to provide a design-focused experience. Due to the complexity and scope of the project, the ability to perform the work in a factory environment provided the opportunity for significant cost reductions and increased quality control measures.

Phoenix Modular Elevator continues to win awards and accolades for elevators.
Left to right: Russ Ward (Marketing Manager), Allison Allgaier (President), Lynndi Kesler (Sales Manager)

“We could not be happier with our second straight trophy and working with our friends at Silver Creek,”  said Allison Allgaier, President of Phoenix Modular Elevator. “Our whole crew works hard and this award is proof that all the effort pays off.”

This project is not the first time that Phoenix and Silver Creek have collaborated on highly successful projects. West Creek Academy and Sunnyslope Elementary School, both in California, were modular building projects completed in 2017. Phoenix Modular Elevator is located in Mount Vernon, Illinois, and has been building high-quality modular elevators for over a decade. They have been placed in new, retrofit, and modular applications all over the United States and Canada.
For more information regarding Phoenix Modular Elevator, go to our website, www.phoneixmodularelevator.com, or email info@phoenixmodularelevator.com.

 
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Work Force Crunch Making Modular More Attractive

Relic of the Past to New Future

Jim and Ruth MarketBy Russ Ward

There was a little neighborhood market called Jim and Ruth’s near the small house I rented in college. Hidden from traffic in an old residential area of town, it seemed it was stuck in a time warp. It had wooden floors, a meat case in the back, and a white-apron-clad, paper-hat-wearing butcher (Jim) standing at the ready to slice your bologna or T-bone steak to the thickness desired. It was a great place to pick up the occasional item or sit on the bench out front and watch the world go by; the owners ensured it was a place to take a break and leisurely stroll the handful of aisles. You pulled a string to ring a bell when you were ready to check out and Ruth would amble to the old hand-cranked register. If you were in a hurry, the supermarket was down the road.

Remembering Jim and Ruth’s got me thinking about how far the shopping experience has come. Now, we would never wait around after ringing a bell or lounge on a bench when we can order entire meals ready to cook online and have it shipped to us the next day, all from the comfort of our couch. So businesses like Jim and Ruth’s have fallen to the wayside. Speed has surpassed the value of charm. And before you complain about that last statement, put down your smart phone and stop making Jeff Bezos a billionaire. Jim and Ruth never grasped the call to efficiency, speed and cost.

But they are not the only ones that have lagged behind this trend of progress.

The construction business is often one of those lagging industries, seemingly moored to traditional business models and old-fashioned, conventional solutions to age-old problems. Sometimes construction or design build companies don’t even think to ask, “Can this be done differently, better, less-expensively or faster?” This can blind them to a solution such as modular building. Modular and off-site construction can be a significant answer to the questions and the solution to slow, plodding builds that drag on for what seems forever, delaying returns.

One of the ways modular can help is by saving time. Construction of modular building components occurs simultaneously with site prep and foundation work. This allows projects to be completed in half the time of traditional construction.  As shown in the diagram below, the design engineering and permit processes are always the same, whether modular or site-built. The real differences kick in after that, when more than one thing can happen at one time.

 

process2
Image provided by the Modular Building Institute. 

 

Another benefit with modular is the overall reduction of delays due to weather. Because 60-90% of the construction is completed inside a factory with modular, weather is no longer a costly risk. This can be seen specifically with elevators. Stick-built elevators are very susceptible to weather conditions. As a matter of fact, most elevator companies require temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit for the installation to even occur, and the average temperature for some states doesn’t even exceed that temperature most months of the year.  In many climates, 20 to 30 work days or more are lost in North America in December and January alone. Additionally, many areas are prone to spring storms or excessive summer heat, making modular a huge benefit. Productivity of the factory is not reduced due to extremes in temperature or even the occasional thunderstorm. Because the factory provides optimal building conditions, there are fewer delays, quality is increased and completed buildings are occupied sooner, which creates a faster return on the investment.

The modular manufacturing process also means a more consistent product and a higher level of quality.  For instance, inspections can take place as the build is in process, not after it is done. And people checking for quality have better access and more visibility.  You see this with modular elevators in the rails and cabs. In modular, the rails are always plumb and level, making a better overall product.

Modular is simply faster and smarter, and closing your eyes to the inevitable is never the solution. Jim and Ruth closed their eyes to the advances in technology and improvements that could have led to a vibrant and thriving business and now, unfortunately, they have gone the way of the floppy disk and 8-track-tape-player. I will miss the old market…until my next Amazon delivery.

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Superpsyched About Modular Elevators

russ-head-shot-2By Russ Ward
I recently ran a crossed a web page that was a breath of fresh air. It was a gentleman that was a self-proclaimed promoter, inventor and entrepreneur who was very excited about what he was doing. As a matter of fact, he was more than just plain old excited. He made the leap past “psyched” into the realm of “SUPERPSYCHED” (that’s right: all caps, all one word) about life and his life’s dream.
After a few chuckles and couple of outright guffaws, I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and asked myself a serious question: What superpsychs me? And when was the last time that my excitement level at work was so high that I used all caps to describe it? Sure, in my personal life I have been superpsyched a number of times. I was superpsyched about the birth of my children, my favorite ball team winning the World Series and most importantly, getting married to the absolutely perfect woman. But at work, it seems that excitement train has long left the station. This is especially true in the elevator business, as the daily grind can make excitement a stretch to say the least. Let’s face it: some days, work can be as stale as a three-day-old doughnut.
So, if I am going to be aiming a bit higher, I need to see if I can even reach that level. In boring fashion, I thought I would do a little investigating to see if I even had it in me to be superpsyched anymore. So I consulted the absolute best source for a checklist of attributes of what superpsychdome looks like: the Urban Dictionary.  What I found was absolutely fascinating and the definition included a list of what it looks like:
  • being “Psyched” to the point of excitement
  • mild insanity
  • increased heart rate
  • loss of focus
  • loss of appetite
  • staring into space
  • insomnia
  • bed-wetting

I figure that if I can put a check mark next to half of the items above, then I do have the capability to achieve the ever illusive superpsychdome. On the plus side of the ledger, I can get excited, have been accused of mild insanity, can demonstrate an increased heart rate and can lose focus on occasions (just ask that perfect wife of mine). That seals it and good thing, too, because I rarely lose appetite, have trouble sleeping or wet the bed. So I can achieve the near Narvanic (seeings how we are making up words) state of being superpsyched.  But, what at work can push me to capitalize all those letters? What about Phoenix Modular Elevator and our product can drive me to the point of over-excitement?

Consider this. When we sell a modular elevator, we are saving an elevator installer time, money, and an aching back from lifting rails; we are saving months off a general contractor’s timeline; we give project investors a fast return on the dollar; we are saving the environment because factory-built means more efficient material usage and less waste; we are giving architects a blank canvas for design inside and out, as well as simple drag and drop drawings; we are saving building owner’s money; we are making buildings wheelchair accessible; we are helping people to new heights; and we are providing a necessary product to millions of people. We do all that with a smile on our face and a helpful voice on the other end of the phone.

Ya know what? I am SUPERPSYCHED about modular elevators!!!

If you want to be SUPERPSYCHED too, just click here for a quick quote.

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