Factory Built Elevator- Early Planning Makes for Easier Planning

MBI WOM 2There is no doubt that modular elevators are the future for almost any building application, from modular buildings to traditional projects and from low to medium rise and beyond. Everyone knows that modular elevators are simply safer, faster, and smarter.

But they are also easier for everyone involved in the process. Designers, architects, builders, and elevator installers are all helped by the overall concept and tremendous flexibility provided with modular.  However, there is one thing you can do in the earliest phases of construction that can make converting to the modular solution even easier:  consider a modular elevator solution as early in the process as possible.

This is not to say that you can’t consider modular at anytime during the project from design to completion. You can certainly decide on modular late in the game and we are more than willing to help.  We have even been asked to provide a modular elevator solution after a building has been completed. The customer simply got tired of waiting for the stick-built elevator company to show up and get the job done. Turns out, in most cases we can design, engineer, manufacture, ship, and install a quality commercial elevator in less time than a traditional elevator company orders and receives all its components.

However, we would be fibbing if we didn’t tell you that it is just easier overall if you begin the project with modular in mind. The reason lies in the biggest benefit of a modular elevator: that it comes with the completed, manufactured hoistway as part of the package. There is no need to design and engineer CMU walls. Our modular elevator will come with its own specially-engineered, structurally sound 4X4 inch tube steel frame and is clad in one- or two-hour fire rated enclosure.  The structure can also accommodate any hurricane or earthquake zone.  And it can support some gravity loads such as floor joists or stair landings.  So it makes a lot of sense and saves a bit of money to just draw in a hole and leave the engineering to us.

In addition, our standard wall assembly is not as thick as a CMU shaft, so using our footprint in planning will free up a few inches of space to incorporate into the rest of your building.  Our equipment may have a slightly different layout than another manufacturer’s, so it makes sense to decide up front and avoid more design modifications down the road.

Wondering what a modular elevator is?  It’s a prefabricated shaft with the elevator car and other components assembled inside the shaft in our factory.  You can read more about them here.

We can also deliver a “naked” elevator with no drywall wrapping at all. These are used for glass elevators or ones that come with decorative metal hoistways usually for an atrium or mezzanine. This flexibility means that modular elevators can be an early part of the design process.

Many buildings have a clear and intentional look and feel.  A modular elevator is manufactured in a such a way that any cab interior or hoistway finish that would be specified in a stick-built elevator can be utilized in a modular elevator.  So whether you’re looking for durable or high-end, modern or traditional, a modular elevator can deliver it cost-effectively.

To keep the process simple and to give you the ability to put a modular solution in quickly, we provide CAD drawings that can be placed directly in your schematics.

So, when it comes to choosing the next elevator for an upcoming project, call us anytime.  But think about placing the elevator early, for best time-saving results.

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Pour the Perfect Modular Pit Easily

Anchor Bolts Level NutsOne of the biggest concerns that customers have is regarding the pit. Every elevator needs one, including your new modular elevator. You want to make sure you do everything right for when the elevator arrives, and this article will give you some tips to make it easy. By taking some time now, you can avoid issues and problems down the road.

On the surface, it seems easy enough.  Dig and pour a concrete pit for the hoistway, with cast-in-place anchor bolts in the corners. But, when you mix in the need to engineer the pit foundation and add reinforcements based on the elevator’s pit reactions, all the while accounting for the job site’s soil conditions and your local code requirements, it can seem more daunting. Keep in mind though, we supply the necessary information, plans, and even a template (if requested) to help out.

So, to put everyone’s mind at ease, let’s cover the basics on not only the pit but also the foundation for the modular machine room, if your project is going that route. You can also find this info on our website for easier access later.

  1. Typical pits have 8” thick walls and 12” thick floors. However, always consult your pit layout drawings for precise measurements for your specific job.
  2. If you have a sump hole, cover it with a non-combustible material, typically a sheet of metal.
  3. Pour a concrete slab for the modular machine room, if ordered. Purchase epoxy anchors to bolt it to the foundation after it is set. If the machine room is not adjacent to the hoistway, piping and electrical must be run underground or overhead. Coordinate with PME and the installer to determine any building preparations needed to accommodate this.
  4. Once the pit has been poured and the anchor bolts are in place download this Pit Drawing Form. Fill out all the blanks with exact measurements and make sure to include the project name at the top. Email the form to us. With this completed form the holes on our hoistway for the anchors will be as accurate as possible.

More detail and tips include the following:

Picture8Pit Depth – You only want to pour the pit once so, pay close attention to these instructions. The pit should be exactly 4’ deep, measured from top of finished floor to pit floor. Our tower’s legs are 3’11” long, made to sit an inch off the pit floor, with grout underneath. This allows for some adjustment if the pit floor isn’t perfect. The adjustments are done by putting a ¾” thick leveling nut and washer on the anchor bolts before lowering the tower down. Adjust the nuts as needed to plumb and level the tower. Install washers and nuts on top of the tower base plates and tighten. Grout below the base plates.

What do you do if the pit is too deep? The base plates can sit more than 1” off the floor, but if the anchor bolts are too short as a result of the extra depth, extra in-field welding will be required to produce a stable connection.

Err on the long side on the anchor bolts. They should protrude a minimum of 3.5” from the pit floor, but making them a few inches longer poses no problem with installation and gives you breathing room if the pit is too deep.

(On the other end of the spectrum) Pit too shallow: If minor, this could require grinding away a bit of concrete around the anchor bolt. If major, the pit might have to be re-poured. Avoid this at all costs! Too deep is better than too shallow!

Pit.jpgLength and Width – The pit should be the out-to-out steel dimensions plus 1” on all sides for clearance when sliding the tower into the pit. Note that the enclosure of the elevator shaft stops at the top of the pit. If needed or wanted, for above-ground pits, we can extend that enclosure down further. If the pit is too big, it’s not a big deal. However, you’ll need to make sure it’s properly flashed to keep out water and fire caulked to maintain the fire resistance of the hoistway.

Pit too small: Oops, you’re going to have to tear out some concrete. No easy fix for that.

Wall protuberances – The tower slides in right along the walls on its way to the pit floor, so it will catch on any protrusions. Once it’s set, there are openings in the structural framing that piping can be run through. Before lowering the elevator, terminate any penetrations such as PVC liner or piping at the pit wall. Run any piping/electrical after the tower is set. Note that the diagonal rods are for stabilization while uprighting the tower and may be removed after bolting the tower down, if they’re in the way.

Sump hole in corner – The base plates sit in the 4 corners and need a solid surface to rest on. If your pit has a sump hole, make sure it’s at least 12” from any corner.

Pit 2Anchor Bolts – When you pour the pit, anchor bolt placement is very important for elevator installation as this directly effects where the modular elevator will be placed. Please make sure the distance of the bolts from building is right and make sure to include the building finishes when calculating where to place the “front” anchor bolts. Too far away can be bridged with flooring, drywall, and flashing. Too close means reworking of the anchorage.

Check Please – Check, check and check again! Measure three times. Check your prints twice. Cross square them. This is critical. Incorrect placement may require torching out the base plate holes, moving anchors, or other work to provide alternative anchorage. If you know in advance that the placement is slightly off, we can widen the base plate holes in the factory, which is easier than doing it in the field. We can also supply an anchor bolt template to make bolt placement a little easier and more accurate.

Other Pit Info – If the lowest stop is above grade, alternative construction can be used for the pit. The pit floor can be poured as a slab and then walled in afterwards with CMU. Also, the elevator shaft can be finished down to the pit level to provide the pit “walls.” Note that you should at least have a short stem wall to keep water out of the pit area.

Lastly, we want this to be a success for you. If you have any questions at all, contact our team. Our engineer, Tim House, is always ready and willing to help. Feel free to call or email him at thouse@phoenixmodularelevator.com. Here is a video that walks you through the process of installation. You may find it helpful.

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Cold Hands Means Elevator Delays

elevator installation is easy and fast. Fastest elevator installation.
Cold gray skies in Canada would have stopped a stick built elevator. Not true with modular.

No one wants to work in cold conditions. Turning a wrench in sub-zero temperatures isn’t really a problem on it’s own, but it is a problem when the wrench slips and you find yourself busting your knuckles. Something about cold weather makes hitting your hands feel worse than if the slip occurs on sunny, warm days. So, no one should be blamed for not wanting to work in cold weather. For the major elevator companies, working with cold hands is more than just a thing they hate, it is a thing they won’t deal with at all. In the “Job Conditions” clause of most major elevator purchase contracts you will find language that restricts elevator installation to a comfortable minimum of 55°F (13°C).

If the temperature in the hoistway or machine-room dips below that magical number, expect lunch pails and tools to be packed up and for the elevator service van to be leaving the property posthaste. For the traditional elevator company to install the elevator, you as the building owner must maintain a minimum of 55° in the work area or they simply won’t do the installation. This has lead to the common notion among GCs, owners, and investors that elevator technicians don’t watch the clock, they watch the thermometer!

Now to be completely fair, not working with cold hands is just a perk of optimal machine room operation temperatures. And as the dinosaurs of vertical transportation require movement up and down of the elevator car to do the very basic portions of the installation no heat means no installation on cold days.

As a general contractor or building owner the reason for delays is not important, it just seems that fighting the cold weather is a no win situation. Mother Nature has chosen sides and you have been left out in the cold.  This is despite demanding construction timetables that require the elevator to sometimes be installed before the heating and cooling systems are ready to go or when big gaping holes are still in exterior walls where windows and doors should be. This makes elevator installation a headache that rarely goes smoothly or on time. The pain point is real especially considering the annual average temperature for the United States (excluding Hawaii and Alaska) is 52.7°F.

However, to understand the full impact, according to NOAA and the National Centers for Environmental Information, Milwaukee, Wisconsin only has five months of the year when the average temperature is over 55°F.  The average annual temperature is only 47.7° and the average low is only above 55°F in June, July and August. Good luck getting a job done on time. This means that in many locations the building has to be heated and sealed before the elevator folks can even look in the hoistway.

But, temperature is only the tip of the iceberg as far as job conditions are concerned. There is a laundry list of conditions that would rival a pop star’s dressing room demands. Not that elevator installers wouldn’t appreciate only green M&Ms and bottled water distilled from glacier ice, but the list has more to do with the outmoded way elevators are constructed and installed. The elevator technicians themselves are not usually prima donnas, but there are several requirements that need to be met for them to get the job done due to the very nature of installing an old-fashioned, stick-built elevator. To ready the building for the elevator, in most circumstances you must provide:

  • An unloading area within 25 feet of the hoistway, always available during the entirety of the installation process (weeks and usually months).
  • A dry, enclosed and secure storage area. If you don’t have this, warranties can be null and void.
  • Power must be available before installation begins.
  • Get out your brooms, because you have to make sure that all work areas, the pit and the machine room floor are cleaned up for the installer.
  • Lighting for all the work areas is required.
  • Barricades to prevent a falling hazard must be made available and put in place.
  • Garbage cans must be constantly and readily available.
  • The hoistway has to be finished before the installer shows up with its own laundry list of bells and whistles to be attended to.

The list goes on and on and can create delay upon delay. But, what if there was a high-quality commercial elevator at a competitive price that did away with the above list, including restrictions on temperature?

A modular elevator arrives on a flatbed truck or multiple trucks depending on travel distance with the hoistway, elevator car, rails, wiring, and some roping completely done and your responsibilities are restricted to a pit and a flat slab for a modular machine room, if needed. Picture an elevator that can be put into place in a new or retrofit construction project before, during or after the building were being built, on either the inside or exterior of the structure. Then consider this elevator has a track record that includes it being placed and in use in weather extreme locales such as northern Manitoba, Canada or earthquake and hurricane zones in all sorts of buildings from elementary schools to hotels. A high-quality, commercial, modular elevator is available and can meet all the needs of every building. Eight week lead time. One week installation.

With Phoenix Modular Elevators temperatures don’t matter. They are built to exact specifications in a (temperature controlled) factory.  There is no need for hoistway barricades as the elevator arrives with the hoistway as part of the unit. Also the elevator is put into place in less than a day and the doors are already installed and locked until the unit is up and running. The bulk of the equipment comes installed, including rails and the elevator car. In most cases, everything else is packed in the hoistway, near where the final touches are to be installed, or in the modular machine room, if you need one. Lastly, modular is not restricted by design or distance of travel. Modular solves nearly every problem usually encountered by the old way of cobbling together an elevator.

If you are tired of all of the job conditions in your purchase agreement and long drawn out projects due to the elevator installation, contact us for a quick quote. We strive everyday to make elevators easy.

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All Aboard – Modular Elevators

Train in DurangoThere was a time when black, steam powered locomotives would huff and puff into the station, take on water and coal, load up with cargo and passengers and the conductor would yell, “All aboard!” It signified the train was leaving the station and if you weren’t on the train and ready to go, you would be left behind in a cloud of steam, smoke, and coal dust.  The analogy has been used countless times when writing about new innovation and being a part of a movement forward or advances in technology.  You don’t want to miss the train and be left behind.

The elevator industry is on the cusp of just such a transitional move forward and leading the way with the innovation is Phoenix Modular Elevator. We have seen exponential growth over the past few years as people become more acquainted with the company and what makes us unique to the building and elevator industries. That uniqueness, to state it plainly and simply, is due to the fact that we offer a manufactured, commercial, quality elevator that is safer and faster to install than any traditional elevator available at a comparable price. Faster? Think days (in less than a week) not months for the hoistway and elevator to be fully installed and functional. Safer? No heavy rails to to lug around, no cab to install, and, most importantly, no open hoistway hatches to fall through.

Elevator technicians have confided with us, stating that Phoenix Modular Elevator has eliminated the most dangerous and time consuming aspects of the elevator install. Manufacturing a completed hoistway, with the elevator car and rails already installed, that is pre-roped and pre-wired makes all the difference.  But not all are ready for a new age.  There was a time when innovation, especially in regards to safety, was a paramount concern, but, inexplicably, today many are still holding on to old technology that puts installers at risk.

Fortunately for the workers, many are now starting to see the benefits of less potentially harmful physical labor.  It’s no wonder we are currently partnering with a major elevator manufacturer and elevator installers across North America.  They have come to the same conclusion we have: modular elevators are just much better than old fashioned elevators for the people that have to do the installing and the speed of the installation is better for the customer.

Modular elevators are a win/win all the way around.

Yes, you can ignore the trends, safety of elevator technicians, and the benefits of fast installation, but just remember that the train is leaving the station and you can either choose to get on board or ride the old steam locomotive to the dusty museum filled with artifacts from the past. The choice is yours, but keep in mind that as we continue to expand, opportunity abounds for those willing to partake. It is time to let go of the outmoded past.

If you would like to be considered to be an installer for Phoenix Modular Elevator just fill out the simple form here and someone will be in contact with you shortly. If you don’t engage with the future of elevators, someone else will just take advantage of the opportunity.

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Timeline: Actual Modular Elevator Project

Revolution MillsWhen it comes to elevators in multi-story construction projects, there is often significant and well earned moaning and groaning from general contractors as their past experiences have been fraught with problems. The elevator becomes a stumbling block due to delays for several reasons; weather, hoistway construction, availability of elevator parts, and lack of qualified elevator personnel have all contributed to a lengthy timeline for the entire project. At Phoenix Modular Elevator we shorten the process significantly, but there are still a lot of questions about the timeline and how we can make elevators easy. So, to demonstrate exactly how the process works, we are taking a typical project and following the timeline from start to finish.

The project we will be following is a typical 2 -stop elevator going into a private business and apartment complex. It is a machine roomless, holeless hydraulic elevator with fifteen feet of travel. The building owner wanted three walls with one-hour fire rating and one glass wall so the passengers could see outside to an ornate courtyard, with all stainless steel doors and entrances. Click here for the whole surprising timeline! 

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Solving Problems with Prefab Hoistways

Urban Life 2Recently, we have been producing prefab hoistways for a major elevator manufacturer in the United States. These contain no installed elevator, just the hoistway. The company we are working with sees the benefits of faster installation, the safety of the installation, flexibility in design, and higher quality that we offer as opposed to waiting around for a stick-built shaft.

It is easy to see why: having a completed hoistway craned into place means saving time and that means saving money. But having a prefab hoistway means more than just fast installation. Here is a list of reasons why every hoistway should be a prefab….Click here for the rest!

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When Faster isn’t Really Faster

1_thumbRecently, it was announced that the CTF Finance Center in Guangzhou, China broke records as the fastest elevator in the world to date. Believe it or not, it travels at an astounding 46.9 miles per hour straight up! Wow! An elevator in Shanghai, China (Shanghai Tower) finishes in second place with a speed of 42.8 mph and the fastest North American elevator clocks in at a paltry 22.7 mph in comparison. It is located at the Freedom Tower at 1 World Trade Center in New York. It is a bit slower but the show you get going up and down is worth it.

As it turns out, the elevator in your building is not breaking any world records, but, unless you are in the Willis Tower in Chicago or the Empire State Building in New York, you probably don’t need a three million dollar monstrosity that can hit highway speeds. Keep in mind that the world record holding building has a total of 95 elevators and only two elevators are the super fast ones and they only go from the first floor to the 95th where the world’s highest hotel resides. As a matter of fact, the CTF Finance Center has 52 medium and low speed elevators, as well as the two speed-demons.

Find out why speed is overrated. Click here. 

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A Blank Canvas – The Architect’s Dream

nypl.digitalcollections.b3afd5e1-27a1-4acf-e040-e00a180661f0.001.wArchitects often see setbacks worthy of quitting when trying to integrate the restrictions and requirements of GC’s into their artistic design.

One of history’s most important artists could have also let setbacks and failures crush him as a young painter. Giving up would have been more than understandable, as Paul Cézanne’s father saw no future in the world of art for his son and, ultimately, was instrumental in pushing his young son to study law and work in the bank he had founded instead of following his heart.

Further disappointment followed when Cézanne finally applied to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (one of the most prestigious schools) and he was rejected almost immediately. Likewise, in the various salons in Paris, time and again his work was refused. A lesser man’s dreams would have been extinguished and one could only imagine the pressure and anxiety that accompanied every stroke of the brush.  It’s no wonder he was quoted as saying, “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”

The blank canvas to Cézanne was equally torture and pleasure, but none can dispute the energy he drew from it. It led to him being one of the most influential artists of his time. He was drawn to the blank canvas, simultaneously pushed and pursued by it.

In the “mother art” (architecture – according to Frank Lloyd Wright), architects too are drawn to the blank canvas. Read the rest of the article here!

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Innovation the Key – Jefferson the Example

Monticello 1At the recent Elevator U conference, on the last day  we had the pleasure of leaving the final session, boarding buses and, as a group, visiting the historic home of Thomas Jefferson in Monticello. The Elevator U conference is an annual gathering of elevator and facility managers from colleges and universities across the country where participants learn more about vertical transportation, innovation in the industry, and make important contacts. We cannot give a higher recommendation for attendance to this annual event.

The visit to Monticello demonstrated the forward thinking of Thomas Jefferson, but also represented the forward thinking of Elevator U. Find out how vision applies to Elevator U and the elevator industry. Click Here.

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Welcome Kelly Schloss as Sales Manager

Kelly HeadshotPhoenix Modular Elevator is pleased to announce that Kelly Schloss has joined our team as the Inside Sales Manager.  She will be managing quick quotes, formal quotes, and sales. She is ready and willing to deliver information to and assist architects, general contractors, elevator contractors, and modular builders looking for an easy, quality, vertical transportation solution. Her addition will ensure PME’s commitment to responsiveness and great customer service.

Kelly has undergone extensive training  in the world of modular elevators and is ready to field your calls, answer your questions, and deliver same-day quick quotes for any project you have in mind.  Her professional goal is to eliminate the pain points that installing an elevator can cause by delivering great customer service and a high quality product every time!

Feel to contact Kelly to welcome her to the Phoenix Modular Elevator team or to request information about placing a high-quality Phoenix Modular Elevator in your next project.

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