No Elevator Installation Needed

The easiest way to avoid elevator installation in a multi-story building is to not have an elevator. That was the old way of thinking. Now you can have an elevator with no installation at all through modular elevators.

Imagine an elevator with no installation just start up? We can do it at Phoenix Modular Elevator.

This modular way of building is becoming more and more popular because it is faster and safer than traditional elevator installation, largely due to the fact that the installation of the elevator is completed in a factory, under factory controls with significantly more efficiency. But before you pop the champagne corks over no more elevator installations, let’s be clear about what we are talking about.

There are two distinct steps of getting any elevator installed and running in a building; the installation of the components and then starting up the elevator. In the traditional stick- built elevator, the hoistway is constructed and then sits until power is turned on in the building. Then, an elevator technician comes in and, one piece at a time, installs the entire elevator in the enclosed hoistway. This is time consuming and dangerous. Falls through open hoistway openings, lugging around heavy rails and building an elevator car in a cramped hoistway are just the tip of the hazardous iceberg for this outmoded type of construction. Once the elevator car and a set of rails is installed with all the wiring, the elevator contractor gets the elevator running, makes adjustments,, etc.

Why we are different.

With modular elevators, we take a large part of the installation inside a factory. First, we build a fire-rated and building code-compliant elevator hoistway, regardless of seismic or hurricane zone. Then comes the installation of all of the elevator components inside the hoistway in the controlled environment of a factory. This means the high-quality elevator arrives on a truck, ready to be hoisted into place with the rails and cars already installed and perfectly aligned every time. The doors are already hung and all of the hall calls, buttons and wiring are complete. The cab is finished in any style and pre-installed, other than the flooring. In a hydraulic elevator, the jacks are even in place when the travel distance works out for an above-ground option. When travel distance is higher than allowable for above-ground jacks, the in-ground jack arrives at the time of the placement and the elevator is completely ready to receive the jack. In a Phoenix Modular Elevator – traction model, the elevator is partially pre-roped, saving time and effort as well.

So, there is much less installation once the elevator is on site because the components are already in place inside the hoistway. The elevator is already literally pre-installed.

That does not mean there’s nothing to do.

First, when the elevator arrives on site, the building (hoistway with elevator components) has to be leveled and plumbed when put into place. As I am typing this, I can feel your blood pressure starting to rise. Deep breath. Relax. Phoenix Modular Elevator has a placement team that goes out with every job and will be there to make sure everything has arrived as promised and will take charge to make sure the hoistway is placed on the pre-set anchor bolts. We will bolt it down, making it ready for the startup. If an in-ground jack is part of the plan, we will work with the elevator technician of your choice or one we have agreed on to put the jack in the ground. Simple. If it is a traction model, all of the roping is already contained in the hoistway. We will make sure they are put into place with the elevator technician.

Startup

The startup is where the elevator technician really gets going because there are some things that have to be done for the elevator to be started up (not installed). The technician or mechanic will make sure that the following is completed:

  • Run the wiring to the controller. They are already run to the rest of the elevator.
  • Make sure the jacks are plumb and grouted in place.
  • Add hydraulic oil.
  • Remove all shipping brackets other than those under the elevator car.
  • Turn the elevator on and move the car up.
  • Check for leaks.
  • Take off the shipping brackets under the elevator car.
  • Lower the car and check for leaks.
  • Replace packing.
  • Adjust the elevator to proper floor levels.

That is the basic procedure for a modular hydraulic elevator, but here is a video to assist you with more details.

For a traction elevator, the process is largely the same other than taking the elevator ropes that are in the hoistway and running those as needed. Once they are run properly, the start up should be like any other elevator.

Lastly, the elevator technician will make sure the inspection is scheduled and fulfill the punch list items.

In the next blog, post we will run through what the general contractor or building owner should expect when the modular elevator arrives on site.

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Modular Elevator – General Contractor Info

Like any elevator in a construction job, whether it is modular, traditional, new construction or retrofit, the general contractor (GC) has very specific responsibilities that need to be addressed. But sometimes, the lines can be blurred or confused as to what the GC must do when it comes to modular elevators. We are hoping this will answer many of those questions. After all, the GC is one of the most important people on the job site, so a clear understanding of what is needed before the elevator arrives all the way through to the end is crucial.

One thing that any GC will find is that a modular elevator is a very easy and fast solution, and once they have one under their belt, they often ask why they haven’t done one before. Yes, they are that easy! To assist, this video of an installation may be helpful. Also all of this and more can be found on our website. We not only want this to be a great experience, but one GC’s will refer to others!

So what are the challenges and differences faced when adding a modular elevator? Here is a great list:

  • The pit is more than a concrete box that is usually poured for an elevator. It must be the proper dimensions you will find in the supplied drawings. Check and double check the elevation and the depth. No one wants to pour a new pit once the elevator arrives. Here is a great link with all you need to know.
  • The location of the anchor bolts in the bottom of the pit is crucial and probably the most common mistake. The anchor bolts may vary in size, but as an example, the most common anchor bolts used are 1-1/4″ and they go into a 1-1/2″ hole in the base plate. There is not a lot of room for error, so accuracy is a must. To help, we have a template available. If you are not sure they are exactly right after they are cast in place, take measurements and contact us, as we may be able to make adjustments to the base plates in the factory.
  • When dealing with electrical to the machine room, always consult the submittals. Generally we need four stub-ups; one for 3-phase 208-480 with a dedicated circuit, and three others with 120 volts on their own circuit as well.
  • Door penetrations are the holes where the elevator is going to stop inside the building. Make sure they are opened up before the elevator arrives. Your project may skip this step if the elevator is not a retrofit or if it is set first at the job site.
  • How much leeway do you need if the modular unit is going into an interior space? The rule of thumb is 3″ all the way around. There are door frames that have to make it through any opening and those jut out approximately 1 1/2″ from the hoistway. Just as important, remember to make sure nothing is over-hanging in the pit area before the elevator arrives.
  • Scheduling the crane is also in the GC’s scope. Here is the info they will need to schedule the right one.
  • Finishing the exterior of the hoistway. The standard Phoenix Modular Elevator hoistway is covered in a fiberglass/gypsum wallboard, which can be covered in any material and butted up to the building. You can also request, at the time of the order, standard non-fiberglass wallboard. This can be helpful for jobs where the hoistway will be interior.
  • Interior finishing is done by filling the gaps with drywall and taping and mudding like normal. They can then be painted, wall papered, or have any other covering attached.
  • Bridging the gap between the hoistway and the building is also important. In most applications, the gap will be small and can be bridged easily with carpet or tile, or we offer aluminum treadplate for the thresholds. Here is a web page that can help you understand what you will be dealing with.

Believe it or not, there are a few things we do not provide and are not in our scope. Know that the GC will need to coordinate with subs to get these things done. Here is a good list, but if you have any questions at all please contact us:

  • The floor of the elevator car: We do not provide carpet, tile or other covering and do not install it in the factory. 
  • Fire/Life/Safety – Sprinklers if required or desired are totally up to you.
  • Coordination of various trades: It is up to the GC to schedule electricians, carpentry, construction, concrete work, fire/life/safety, building inspectors or plumbers (sump pump). The elevator technician and GC will coordinate once the elevator is onsite, especially when it comes time for inspection.
  • Structural Connections – We can give advice and assistance, but we do not make the tie-ins.
  • Emergency Egress Phones – These are the phones located at landings (not in the elevator cars) in some cases and are not allowed to be in the elevator hoistway.
  • Sump Pumps – If requested we can provide a receptacle and wiring, but the pump is not in our scope.

While the list above might seem long, in reality, it is much easier than traditional elevators because the elevator is already installed and the hoistway comes wrapped in drywall. The elevator technician should have his end of the job wrapped up in a week if the elevator is hydraulic, so they won’t be in the way or making additional demands. These are many of the same actions, other than the crane, for any elevator.

20% Off an Elevator! No, Really!

Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan them. We had a rush job for two of our high-quality commercial elevators and did our best to finish the entire project in less than eight weeks, per our typical hydraulic timeline. We succeeded, everything was ready to go on time, and then we got the phone call. The job we worked so hard on had hit significant financial struggles that had nothing to do with us and the project was canceled. To top it off, only part of the payment had cleared. We were just a bit disappointed.

Once the dust settled, we were granted complete ownership of two elevators, thus our foray into deeply discounted elevators has begun. Simply put, we want to move these along and clear up factory space so, if you meet the right criteria, you can have a high-quality commercial elevator for significantly less than what they usually cost.

Description

These are not used elevators! They are brand new, ready to be shipped and are complete in every way, containing the car, all the wiring, the rails, hall calls, etc. They are what we call an SF and SLF models with a one-hour fire rating and have the capability to be duplexed should you need them both. Click here for drawings

They are both two stops with approximately 12 feet of travel. However, as they are still in the factory, the travel can be adjusted slightly. Both have a wheat colored laminate interior called Solar Oak from Wilsonart and silver handrails on the side and rear walls. They come with twin-holeless hydraulic jacks already installed and are completely ADA and 2013 elevator code compliant. 

The elevators were completed projects that were never installed and have been released from a property settlement that had nothing to do with the elevators in question.  So if this matches a need you have, contact us as soon as possible.

What is a Modular Elevator?

For those of you not completely familiar with modular elevators, it may be a good idea to check out the link below and do some research. Basically, a modular elevator is a hoistway with all of the elevator components already installed inside. They are trucked to the work-site, craned into place and completely installed in less than a week. Modular elevators are the fastest, smartest and safest way to install an elevator in any retrofit, modular or new building project.   

So if you have a project coming up or have always thought that an elevator would increase your property value or rent from a second story space and the total travel is around 12 feet, send us an email. But act soon; they will be first come, first serve.

People Get Hurt – Keep Up With Elevator Technology

Disappointingly, Luddites often rule the day. People want to protect their pocketbooks and themselves, so they reject any technology that is a perceived threat, even if not a true threat. This is despite technology being available that can make life better for almost all people in the community and even for themselves. That is exactly where Boston is in the world of elevators, and it is inconveniencing and even possibly hurting some of its citizens. In a recent boston.com article, it detailed the compelling story of Erin Murphy. Recently she had to fight torrential rain and exhaustion in her wheelchair because the elevator on the platform she needed to use for public transportation was closed. Not only that, the elevator in question has been shutdown since April….of 2018! And even more astounding, the new elevator will not be completed until 2020, and that date is a guesstimate!

The alternatives for Murphy seem limited and all of them would cost her more time, money and worry about getting to where she needs to be on time. But, the alternatives for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) are not as limited because with technology, such as modular construction, there is no reason why replacing an old elevator should take longer than a few weeks, not years.

As a matter of fact, a Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME) was installed in a Boston school just a few years ago in less than eight weeks from the time of the order. The project literally went from drawings to actually being approved for use that quickly. PME prides itself on faster, safer and higher quality. So when we read about a person being so burdened by lack of access, it kind of makes our blood boil. There is no reason in this day and age for people to be so inconvenienced for so long.

But currently in the Bay State, there is active opposition to a different and better way to vertically move people from one floor to another. Despite the fact that modular would free up more time for elevator mechanics to make sure that current elevators are up and running, they still are vehemently opposed to a better way.

Utilizing modular elevators would allow for faster installation and set up of commercial-quality elevators in retrofit or new construction applications. They can even come with modular machine rooms to make the startup even faster. Their unfounded fear is that better technology will keep people from working as modular elevators go in so much faster and easier than stick-built. But, in actuality, the improved technology would free up more man-hours for service and upkeep, something that is sorely needed in Boston. Just check out this report from CBS Boston about the current state of the elevator industry that sports a backlog of 4,500 elevators operating without a valid license. Apparently, the state can’t keep up and neither can those tasked with fixing what the inspectors find.

Think about that next time you step into an elevator in Boston.

This backlog is a long-standing problem. For years, the state has been having trouble keeping up and it is no wonder with so many mechanics installing new elevators, as this leads to less time maintaining existing ones. It is shocking that only a handful of people opposing a faster installing elevator system can control the mobility and safety of everyone in the state, especially considering they could help correct the problem. Unfortunately, they refuse to even consider different alternatives as an option.

So who are they protecting by their backward views? Really, the answer is no one. Right now and in the foreseeable future, everyone the elevator business is extremely busy and business is booming. Also, the modular alternative such as Phoenix Modular Elevator is safer for the very people that those opposing them intend to help, elevator mechanics.

Modular elevators are built in a factory setting and use machinery to do all of the traditional heavy lifting. No more backbreaking rails to lug, motors to hoist or cabs to build in extremely cramped quarters. That means elevator mechanics are injured less and can then do the tasks beyond the grunt work to keep people safe. But, those opposed to modular elevators don’t seem to care about the working conditions of elevator mechanics that get strained backs, pulled muscles or worse. There are also no open hoistway hatches or doors for mechanics or other construction workers to fall through. Modular makes the entire jobsite safer and just makes sense.

Lastly, Massachusetts is the only state that has outright rejected this technology. Early on, they were accepting and we have several units already installed in the state, but the Luddites prevailed, at least for the time being. They are unlike the rest of the United States and Canada where you can find modular elevators from New York City to Los Angeles, British Columbia to Florida. We have great union and non-union elevator contractors that install our modular elevators everyday and we are looking to add more…even in Boston.

The Team that Solves Problems

I shouted out in our office, “What should be the topic be for our blog this month?” and immediately the response was to talk about the staff, their duties, and how much we enjoy working together and assisting our customers by providing great service while meeting their needs. Elevators can be very complex, so it takes a well-coordinated effort with lots of desire and teamwork to help with the myriad of issues that can arise with any elevator. At PME, we use our desire to help, along with teamwork, every day, and here is an introduction to those who work tirelessly behind the scenes to get you your elevator. There is a chain of events that comes with every elevator produced and Phoenix Modular Elevator employees are behind each of these steps that ultimately result in the fastest installing, commercial-quality elevator available being delivered to your job site.

1. When you call for a free quick quote or click the button on our website, you don’t go to an automated message and your email doesn’t just disappear into a black hole. After a pleasant greeting from Cindy or Chris, you get to personally talk to either John or Lynndi. If you submit a request for a quick quote, it is forwarded directly to them so there is no chance of the message being lost. John and Lynndi pride themselves on prompt response time while providing helpful information. They are not traditional salespeople but educators about elevators, and they solve problems, finding out what you need for your project.

John Hefner – Eastern US Sales Consultant and Lynndi Kesler – Sales Manager work to make sure that they get free quick and formal quotes out faster than any other elevator company.

2. Once the project is ready to go, you will become acquainted with Randy or Chris from our Accounting and Accounts Receivable departments. They gladly answer questions about billing, invoices and payment schedules. They love explaining any issues that may arise and will go the extra mile to get you what you need to move the project forward.

3. Next, Tim in Engineering gets the project. He checks and double checks every aspect of the job, getting each and every piece of the project worked out and ready to build. From pit details to final engineering, Tim and Pat we will help coordinate the project and answer any questions you may have. Tim loves being included in conversations about elevators early in the process so adjustments can be made before manufacturing has started.

4. When the project is an official go, Tonya in Purchasing starts pulling everything together by buying the various components. Keep in mind that every elevator is a little different and has literally hundreds of parts and components and each has to be shopped for best price and quality. The parts are non-proprietary and are all produced either here at PME or in the same factories as any other company. The only real difference is that we install them in a factory while the hoistway is horizontal, making our elevators faster to build and install and high quality.

Tonya in purchasing and Seth in inventory are constantly making sure we have everything we need and all the pieces to each elevator we make.

5. Quality is constant! Part of what makes our elevators better is that quality control checks can take place easily and often. Jason, our Quality Control Manager, simply walks the hoistway throughout the shift, checking welds, wiring, drywall, doors and frames and the cabs. He develops plans for continued improvement and sees the plans through for seamless and smooth production.

6. Last but certainly not least is logistics. Getting everything from point A to point B is a true test that we consistently pass with flying colors. Psyndy (pronounced Cindy) not only is responsible for all the components arriving to the job site just in time, but everything that has to ship out, too. This takes more than a postage stamp, working only with trusted trucking companies. Each shipped elevator leaves on time and arrives when wanted.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the employees that make sure you get a high-quality commercial elevator every time. There are many more employees, including our production team, working hard to ensure each elevator is exactly as the customer ordered. Teamwork and desire to solve problems for our customers is what we do. And our efforts do not go unnoticed! A property developer we built and installed an elevator for recognized the hard work and quality by commenting that, “The Phoenix Modular Elevator was the most painless experience we have ever had when it comes to elevators.” This has led us to be spec’d in several of their jobs in the future. Comments like those just drive us harder to provide even better customer service.

Wood Core Vs. Steel – Best Material for Elevator Cabs

Steel versus wood is a discussion that has been going on for a long time in the elevator world. Which material is better for an elevator cab?

For those of you not familiar with elevator cabs, they are the part of the elevator you ride in. The cab is attached to a sling and platform that is either pushed by hydraulic jacks or pulled by steel cable ropes. That is a bit of of an over simplification, but what it comes down to is the cab is the box that you ride in. As you will find with most things, opinion is usually the deciding factor led by who is doing the arguing or who benefits most. More on that later, but first, lets go over some important facts about cabs.

Whether wood or steel, cabs are built to be durable, reliable and safe, and every elevator cab produced today are all of those. Also, current elevator cars strictly follow the elevator code for the jurisdiction they are installed in. They are inspected and must pass the code to be placed into service. That is one way we know they are safe. So, when you are discussing elevator cabs, none of those points are important in arguing either way. Elevator cars are highly functional and safe. Therefore, it comes down to a few other factors that are still important, but not life and death. I have divided this analysis into three categories and most of the deciding factors between steel and wood fall into those. The first is the cost, the second is the quality of the ride (sound), and last but not least, the ease of installation.

Cost – When it comes to cost, steel is simply more expensive. In general terms, a steel elevator cab is twice as expensive as a wood core cab. We know this because we will place any type of cab into elevators here at Phoenix Modular Elevator, wood core and steel. We produce wood core cabs in the factory, but frequently buy steel cabs for customers when specs are specific and steel is required. But, the cost of purchase is just the beginning. There are lots of hidden costs that are not usually understood or discussed when it comes to steel versus wood core.

The most important factor that drives up the costs for elevators (besides gold inlaid, mahogany hand rails) is the weight. The heavier the load lifted, the more expensive to install and operate. For cars of similar measurements and the same capacity, the weight for a steel cab over a wood core can be up to 15% higher. That means increased power requirements. It can mean bigger jacks, motors and valves, different motors or sheaves requirements, as well as ropes. All of this can cost more money not just in the short term but in the long run. Check mark to wood core!

Quality of Ride or Sound – Hello, hellllo, hellllllllo. Sorry; just thinking of standing in a steel elevator cab makes me imagine I’m in a Ricola commercial. I just couldn’t resist. A metal cab is louder. It is not a myth that you can sound like you are in a tin can, because you are in a tin can. There are ways to reduce the noise transfer, but then cost becomes an issue again. Also, when there is noise in an elevator, that usually means there is vibration and that can cause connections to loosen, creating even more noise and, of course, the need for repairs. In the old days, there were some drawbacks regarding wood core and moisture absorption, but with technology, that has largely been alleviated, so you will never get the creeks and moans with wood core that you get in a steel cab.

There is something very solid feeling about a wood core cab. One of our installers, when they first toured our factory, went in a fully constructed cab and jumped up and down and loved how solid the wood core cab felt. Also, wood core is just as flexible when it comes to design. If you can imagine it, a wood core cab can be it. Check mark number two to wood core!

Ease of Installation – Finally, a win for steel. One of the primary reasons for the movement away from wood core is the ease of installation of a steel cab. They come in pieces that are an easy fit through hoistway doors to the hoistway where most cabs are assembled. This can also help when modernizing the cab. They come apart pretty easy (hence the rattling) and can be replaced quickly. The wood core cabs likewise come in pieces, albeit larger than the steel pieces, and are put together with simple draw bolts. They can be taken apart easily as well. Of course, all of this is a moot point for our elevators as we build the cab outside of the hoistway and then insert and wire it prior to shipping. This means that the cab, whether steel or wood core, get built faster and easier.

So this is the real nub of the whole discussion. When you say that steel is better, who is it better for? Is is better for the end user? The answer is no. Wood core and steel are really the same. Steel is a bit louder and can rattle more by transmitting more noise, but the safety and functionality are equal in all other respects. Is steel better for the building owner? Nope. They cost more money upfront and over time and are subject to more long-term maintenance. Is steel better for the big elevator companies? Finally, the reason they are sold. Elevator companies find them easier to install (because they are not built like our modular models) and so they have become the standard despite the shortcomings.

To sum things up, either option is fine and we install both. Just keep an open mind to cost savings in the short and long term. That should be the ultimate determining factor.

Back to School at World of Modular

By John Hefner

In December of 2004, I walked across an assembled stage at my alma mater, Eastern Illinois University, to receive an empty folder from a man I had never met and it was assumed (obviously by me) that it would unlock all the doors I had hoped to unlock in life. I was relieved that I had finally made it because I mistakenly thought that I was going out to conquer the “real world”. Fourteen years later and five jobs under my belt, I realize that you never stop learning and that school had very little to do with this “real world”. Most jobs either are not at the technological level we learned in school or don’t fit into the perfect world scenarios envisioned by the books, but I digress… My favorite teachers in school were the ones that were also doing what they taught in their own businesses. They were very quick to call out the writers when the books were delving into what you could politely say was a fictional scenario.

Enter Anirban Basu at the recent World of Modular conference in Las Vegas. He is an economist who is self-aware enough to know that he is not in the most entertaining of fields. I had been told before the speech that he was going to be good, so I knew I was probably going to like him. All doubt left when the title for his speech and picture referenced the 1984 crossover hit, “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before”, and used economics to show that there is nothing new under the sun.

He started with this quote by Janet Yellen: “There is always some chance of recession in any year, but the evidence suggests that expansions don’t die of old age. ” In other words, it’s true that economists are always shouting economic slowdown during a boom period, but no expansion has lasted forever. He pointed to the Baltic Dry Index, which he asserts is a solid predictor of an economic downturn. He brought up a chart on the global economic growth highlighting the softening markets overseas that are buying and selling to us. He discussed the Capacity Utilization Rate, which also predicts when an economic downturn is imminent. Not that they say we’re in a recession; more likely, it’s a “correction” from the white-hot economy we’ve had over the last few years.

One cool point he made was about the inequality of the jobs available to workers. He said that one major reason is males 21 to 34 are not entering the workforce to instead, stay home to play video games. Now I admit I indulge in a couple hour-long gaming sessions periodically, but I also have had a job since I was 10 when I first started mowing lawns and currently work over 40 hours a week at PME. But a major segment of our society has chosen to remain jobless or as they say, “in transition” for 15 years? You can check out this cool article about it here.

But in every rain cloud, there is a silver lining, or as Basu intimated, in every economist’s speech, there are hopeful statements so they will invite you back next year. The number one issue was the China trade deal, which is what took me back to school. I had an economics professor that talked about this China trade deal back in college. His big “wag of the finger” was a study he did on all the trade ambassadors to Japan and China, refusing to put any teeth in their negotiations going back to Nixon’s term and then after their ambassadorship, wind up with a “consultant” position for one of their companies. Obviously we aren’t going to compete with them in manufacturing, but agriculturally, we can provide grain, beef, etc. for much less. Also, he talked about the Federal Reserve keeping the prime rate low and he’s not the only one saying this.

It’s nice to find out that your education taught you something that is getting a lot of attention in the current market. It makes all those thousands spent seem like they may have meant something. It’s also great that maturity apparently came in those 14 years as I was awake during HIS WHOLE SPEECH! On a personal level, I think we can all realize that every boom comes with a bust and how important it is to make smart economic decisions like using a modular elevator to open your project faster and get in on the good economy while it lasts. If you want to learn how you can save time on your project, email me for a quote at jhefner@phoenixmodularelevator.com. I can get out most budget numbers in under 24 hours.

World of Modular Take-A-Ways

By John Hefner

Once again, I take the reigns of the most exciting, entertaining, and generally informative blog in the world (you’re welcome, Russ Ward!), the Phoenix Modular Elevator blog!! I was excited to attend the World of Modular convention from March 15-18 in fabulous Las Vegas!

I went out to represent our company, but learned a wealth of information about how modular is changing the industry. Did you know that modular is solving housing problems caused by expanding populations, natural disaster, or timeline crunches?Through a series of breakout sessions, we learned how people around the globe are using modular in crazy situations, such as in Alaska to house most of the population of a town. In Korea, where space is at a premium, it’s hard to build traditionally because it has to be done fast so the town can resume normal function. My personal favorite was an MRI facility that can be packed up and taken where needed while a facility is updating their MRI equipment.

Two of the big announcements made at the show came in the breakout sessions. One is that shipping containers are now going to be a part of the International Building Code, which will make passing inspections easier. The other was that Mariott International announced that they were going to give incentives for their owners of hotels to use modular components so that they can build hotels faster!

But the gem of the show is the awards banquet, where we all don our dress clothes, have a fancy dinner, and look at some of the best the industry has to offer. For a person just being exposed to the industry and, I’ll admit, previous misconceptions that modular means a glorified trailer, I was stunned by some of the buildings on display: houses that any family would be glad to call home; huge, movable complexes where pipeline and factory workers can rest between shifts when they are away from home; doctors offices and storefronts that were put up quickly so that they could start plying their wares and trade.

The most exciting part was when two projects that, up till that moment were a sheet on the project board, won awards! Congratulations Axis Construction who won Best of Show Permanent Facility over 10,000 sq. ft. with the Vanderbilt Family Health Clinic! It featured two of our elevators.

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Also recognized in the Relocatable Modular Education under 10,000 sq feet category was Aries Building Systems for their BelovED Community Charter School. P.S. Our elevator and machine room is front and center!

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Congratulations to all the winners representing the best of the modular industry and we look forward to working with you all in the future!! I know I’m looking forward to seeing even more of our projects next year!


Built in One Piece for Quality

One of the most common questions we get at Phoenix Modular Elevator is, “How high can you go?” The assumption is that modular elevators have limits; maybe two or three stops at the most. The answer, however, may surprise you. Currently, we have a project that has a total 15 floors and there are more mid-rise projects in the production pipeline.

But there are some limits to be considered, and that would be the total length of our production floor in our factory. Currently, that equates to a lot of elevator; we can produce a pre-installed elevator in a hoistway over 450 feet long or tall, depending on your perspective. This is because due to ever-increasing demand for mid-rise elevators, our factory floor was recently doubled in length.

It depends on your perspective because we build our hoistways horizontally and then pre-install all of the elevator equipment while it remains horizontal. When finished, it is even trucked horizontally in 50-55 foot sections to the job site and is finally vertical when craned into place and ready for a technician to set it up.

So I am sure you are wondering, if it is delivered in sections or towers, why does the total length of the factory floor make a difference?

The answer is, we pride ourselves on our quality. The hoistway and rails are always perfectly plumb, perfectly square and perfectly level in every job we complete, even when the job calls for four towers or more, and that helps ensure quality is strictly adhered to.

The only way to ensure perfection is to build the hoistway together in one long piece with the sections pinned and bolted together until the elevator is ready to be shipped. Once the elevator car, wiring and assembly is complete, we simply unbolt the sections, shrink wrap them individually and load them one at a time on the trucks. They are then shipped as you need them or all at one time, depending on your construction schedule.

When they arrive at the site, the first section goes into the pit and is properly set. Then, the subsequent towers are lowered into place and bolted together. They fit hand in glove because they were built that way, all connected.

So why does this matter? Because ultimately, a smooth-riding elevator needs to have perfection. The rails need to be in alignment, with no rough joints or bumps. I am sure you have been in an elevator that rattles, shakes or shimmies. Instead of a nice quiet cab ride, it sounds more like a freight train hitting a bump on the tracks. That is usually because the rails were not placed properly or they have slipped in the clips that hold them in place. You will never have a problem like that with our modular elevators because they are carefully put into place and welded in the factory. Perfect every time can mean a better ride over the life of the elevator.

So how high can we go? Almost any height with unsurpassed quality.

PME Philosophy from General Patton

By Russ Ward

The life and times of General George S. Patton is a bit of an obsession for me. I have read every book I can find about him and have seen the Academy Award winning film Patton more times than I can remember. The reason for my deep interest is that my grandfather was a lowly private in the European Theater of Operations during World War II in the 79th – Cross of Loraine Division and was under Patton’s command during some of his deployment. I still proudly have the shoulder sleeve insignia he wore on his uniform. The field of blue has faded with time and has smudges of dirt and grime but the silver Cross of Loraine is still clearly visible.

I am proud of my grandfathers service and so I seek out wisdom and all I can from one of the greatest leaders of his time that he served under. So what have I gleaned from General Patton? Plenty about innovation, leadership, management and business. Ironically the timeless principles he espoused can be seen daily at Phoenix Modular Elevator. How have we embraced and exemplified some of his more famous quotes? Read on to find out, but first, here are some of Old Blood and Guts’ more notable sayings:

  • “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
  • “If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
  • “Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

These words demonstrate a straight forward approach to army life but so much more. They speak to business and leadership outside of the military as well and so they apply daily to what we do at Phoenix Modular Elevator. We excel at innovative thinking, due to the freedom to experiment and improve processes and products. We recently saw this on our largest to date eight-story set of stairs for a project in New York. We worked as a team with many contributing ingenuity and fresh perspectives to accomplish the task on schedule and budget.

We see the benefits of outside of the box thinking, where problem solving is encouraged. Thinking differently is not frowned upon but seriously considered, tested and improved.

Our open philosophy of discourse allows for a free exchange of ideas and concepts at every level of the corporate structure. Constructive criticism and honesty is encouraged and exemplified from the president to the factory floor.

Through living out the quotes of Patton in today’s business environment, we have become the clear leader in the modular elevator movement with the largest and fastest growing modular elevator manufacturing plant in North America. We are on the upward path and continue to march forward to success.

Ultimately, if I were to dig a bit deeper into my psyche for the source of my desire to find out as much as I can about Patton, it is probably due to him being one of the war’s most renowned characters. There are volumes of histories and biographies that paint a clear and defining portrait of him, his escapades and his character. Yet my grandfather, who served honorably from Utah Beach to Bavaria has little to no similar marker to his gallantry or even a hint of his life from 1942 to mustering out in 1946. Just another in particle in the cloud of 2 million green clad American soldiers that fought in Europe for all the right reasons.

I search in vain on the internet and my eyes strain to closely examine old war footage on TV for fragments of information or for even a glimpse of a young “dog face” soldier from Southern Illinois. I am always disappointed. The memories that reside deep inside me of my grandfather are relegated to remain just wisps and flights; never tangible or more concrete. The result? The memory of one of the most influential men in my life is relegated to a box of combat ribbons, old patches, medals, some letters to back home and scattered newspaper clippings. It does not seem fitting so I replace him with a man who’s adventures are chronicled and recounted for all and for all times.

Thankfully, I have in my search for my grandfather and found the wisdom of his generation through Patton’s quotes and diary.

Funny thing. I don’t even know if my grandpa liked Patton or even saw him. Like many that participated in the WW2 he rarely spoke of his service. But I know, like Patton, Private First Class, Edward Earl Russell was tough, smart and a true leader. So I look to Patton and his words of wisdom to to fill in the blanks for my grandfather, because although he survived the war with the Germans, cancer would ultimately defeat him in 1974 before I got to know him well.

It seems that as the World War II generation fades further from our minds and the dust from old books replaces the dust of the battlefield, the principles they had can out last them. I am just glad that through the leaders of the Greatest Generation, we can still learn grow and innovate.