We 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.