Category Archives: Contractors

Elevator Construction Unsafe


No one wants to see yellow warning tape going up at job site, so here at Phoenix Modular Elevator, we talk a lot about construction site safety, especially regarding elevators. In other words, safety is a big motivator for us, not just when the elevator is up and running, but from the time the elevator hoistway or shaft is being constructed to the final installation of the elevator itself.

Why? Because we know there is a better way. Modular elevators are simply a safer alternative that need to be embraced by everyone in the building industry so injuries and yellow warning tape can be avoided. If we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times; if you care about worker safety, build with modular.

To help punctuate this point, just this month there have been two breaking news stories concerning elevators and construction site safety.  The links are provided so you will know what we are saying is true, but believe me, there is no joy in reporting potentially avoidable accidents.

The first news story is one of the most common accidents that takes place involving elevator hoistways on a job site. The problem is with old-fashioned, out-dated construction methods. The elevator hoistway is built and then just sits there as the building is built around it. The whole time, the shaft has doors that have not been installed and are open; an accident waiting to happen. All the facts are not known as of yet, but it seems an air-conditioning and heating employee fell down the hoistway. There are safety precautions that are required to be taken to avoid the inevitable, but unfortunately, one slip can mean a fall several feet to the bottom of the elevator pit.

With safer modular elevators, the hoistway is installed with the elevator equipment already fully in place in the shaft. That means the elevator doors close off access to the hoistway before the unit is even shipped to the site and the doors remain closed and locked until the final installation by a certified elevator technician. Also, the installation takes less than a week in most cases, meaning that throughout the project, there are fewer elevator personnel around to get in the way of other trades or to leave a tool out to trip on. You can clearly see the benefits of modular construction in this video. As you can see, the doors are in place when the complete elevator arrives. Also, even though this was a retrofit project, a hole was created for the elevator the day it arrived and was covered up the very same day, resulting in significantly less risk.

Modular elevators are just safer.

The second story involved $142,270 in U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties that were dolled out to a major elevator manufacturer after the death of a worker. The worker was installing an elevator in Mount Carmel Grove City, Ohio when tragedy struck. There are two points that should be made.

First, if the news story is true, a company that had 2017 sales revenue of 41.45 billion will have to pay penalties of just over $140,000. Again, we do not know the entirety of the story but, is it just me, or does that seem like less than a slap on the wrist? I will let you draw your own conclusions but, clearly government penalties are not going to force improved safety when it comes to elevators

Second, the article indicates the “mechanic died when the elevator platform fell into the elevator pit where the mechanic was working.” This again indicates that the unsafe old-fashioned way of installing an elevator needs to be re-examined. With a modular elevator, all of the components are already in the shaft and properly and safely secured in a factory environment. There is nothing to come tumbling down on the installer’s head. Also, it means that additional costly injuries can be avoided. There is no more heavy lifting onsite. Normally a crew assembles the dozens of components such as platforms and rails one piece at a time inside a cramped and dangerous shaft and an elevator rail can weight up to 18 pounds per foot or more. Modular does away with this hazard. Back strains are reduced and heaven help you if you drop one.  Modular elevators have manufacturing processes in place that eliminate the danger.

So the question is, why do some people still insist on a process that puts people at risk for injury? We have many theories, but we do know that there is an alternative available today and each individual can determine for themselves the value of safety.


Definition and Benefits of Modular

Pleasant PrairieWhen it comes to blogging, usually you use stories or anecdotes to get your point across. It tends to stick better with the reader if they can identify with the examples given.  People tend to engage and respond more favorably if they can feel a connection. But, sometimes you have to just state the facts and tell people point by point what you are trying to say.  That is the case with this blog post. No fluff, no mother-in-law stories, no tragic tales of elevator builds gone wrong or funny anecdotes;  just the truth about modular building and why it is the fastest-growing and best way to build any project.  
Keep in mind that I am talking about modular in general and not specifically elevators. However, you will see that each point applies to modular elevators as well as all other components that make up a building. With all that said, here we go…a definition and points that clearly show why modular is the future.
First, modular construction is defined by the Modular Building Institute as, “A process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in about half the time.  The buildings are produced in ‘modules’ that, when put together on site, reflect the identical design intent and specifications of the most sophisticated site-built facility – without compromise.” Click here for more info. In a nutshell, modular is components that are built off-site exactly as the customer requests.  The various components or units are almost anything from bathroom pods to classrooms, kitchens to offices, and let’s not forget, elevators.
Second, here we go with the advantages of modular in no particular order – simple and straight forward:

1. Faster 

  • Reduce Your Construction Schedule
    When a project starts moving forward with traditional construction, it means when site prep is happening, not much else takes place. With modular construction, the building starts at the same time or even earlier if needed. The result is projects can be completed 30% to 50% faster than the old-fashioned way of building. While the other guys are waiting for concrete to dry, modular is working on the structures.
  • No Weather Delays
    With the bulk of the construction taking place in a factory, the weather doesn’t matter. When traditional companies are bogged down by rain or cold, we are building. This means the project is done faster and buildings are occupied sooner, creating a faster return on investment.
  • No Missing Tools or Materials
    This may seem minor, but in other businesses, it is called shrink-shoplifted or “misplaced” items that cost time and money. In the construction business, these stolen items can be expensive tools or products crucial to project completion. Somehow, with site-built construction, things grow legs and walk off. If you ever wonder why old-fashioned stick-built elevator contracts call for a lockable area, this is why. Too much stuff just disappears, causing costly time delays.

2. Reduced Costs

  • Lower Labor & Operational Costs
    Lower labor and operational costs occur simply because it is a shorter project timeline and less time at the job site.  Less time on the site reduces injuries and time off due to those injuries, liability, administrative costs and some payroll. Shorter construction time also induces lower overhead costs and provides for earlier opening of the new facilities, generating higher rate of return on the investment.
  • Standardization
    Standardization of the building process reduces costs in procurement and materials. Purchasing large lots of materials for multiple projects is possible, giving more buying power. Also, why pay for the same plans over and over again when you can easily duplicate plans for higher capitol efficiency once a design is complete? Component lists are the same in large part, so repetitive functions are reduced.
  • Less Interruption
    Off-site module construction does not interrupt or slow down other trades or site prep work. With elevators, for instance, we know when the elevator tech is on site, things tend to grind to a halt for everyone else. This is not the case with modular building.

 3. Safety Benefits

  • Reduced Risk – Fewer Hours
    Modular is safer due to reduced risks regarding in-plant operations versus site construction. There are fewer onsite OSHA exposure hours and smaller crew sizes.
  • Better Conditions
    The conditions for building are much safer in an enclosed factory rather than a job site. The factory floor is always level, and not compromised by rain or ice. Overhead cranes are used in modular building, whereas manual lifting is a common practice onsite. The factory environment allows for improving the building system to incorporate more safety.
  • Testing & Corrections
    The modular process is more conducive to testing and correction of vital components before shipping. Daily, the manufacturer of modular components is looking for safer ways of building. For instance, we rotate our elevator hoistways so there is no lifting of drywall, resulting in fewer strained backs.

4. Fewer Resource Requirements

  • Reduced Waste
    Modular production systems and factory construction conditions reduce material waste. Waste is reduced as the parts of assembly are simplified and ordered as close to used dimensions as possible. Also, when there is waste, it is easily sorted and recycled. There are no unexplained piles of debris in a factory, but these are always present at a traditional building site.
  • Greener
    There is less on-site pollution, as the bulk of construction is moved to a controlled environment. This results in less noise pollution, air pollution and dust. Building materials are protected from the elements, eliminating ruined materials due to rain or snow.  Smaller field crews also means less travel to and from the job site.
  • Smaller Building Area
    Less on-site space is required because systems are assembled in factories. Even when considering a staging area, it often smaller than a conventional construction site and occupied for a shorter time.

5. Higher Quality

  • Higher Quality Inspections
    The inspections take place indoors in a factory setting where access is easier. They take place in a closed environment where cold, snow or rain does not keep the inspector from looking at the process and building closely. Modular builders are accustomed to inspectors and they can be easily accommodated.
  • Highly trained and experienced technicians
    The workforce in a modular factory is well-trained for the job they are doing. Welders weld, drywallers drywall and carpenters drive nails. They are well-trained in the process and procedure of their unique position. Each job is more specialized than you would find with onsite construction. This leads to consistency of the product.

From the list above, it is easy to see that modular is the future of construction. If you would like to find out more about modular building or have an elevator project you would like a quote for, click the button below.

Free QQ Button 2
Click for a free quick quote.


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.


Free QQ Button 2
Click for a free quick quote.

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.


Free QQ Button 2
Click for a free quick quote.

Elevator Ignorance Cost Big Time

benjamin-franklin-portrait“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Recently we received an inquiry from a prospective client regarding our suggested use of a hydraulic unit in a four story project with approximately forty-five feet of travel.

The client was very impressed with our eight week lead time and one week install that could simply not be matched by any stick built alternative. However, they were being sold hardcore on the notion that hydraulic elevators were too out-dated and more costly regarding electricity used over time and the initial wiring. To answer their questions and suspicions, they went to an electrical contractor for basic answers and got some really bad info.  Fortunately, they reached out to us before making a decision. Without casting aspersions, the electrician was obviously out of his depth and showed the ignorance that good ol’ Ben Franklin was warning about.

Click here for facts you can’t ignore! 

Free QQ Button 2Click for a free quick quote.


Weather Halts Construction – But Not Modular

20160105_143405We rarely re-post stuff from our other blog  Elevator Schmelevator however it seems like great info for this blog as well. Enjoy!

We have all seen the headlines: The winter weather this year, and nearly every year, puts a damper on the construction industry and new elevator installation. Work vehicles get stuck in the snow, batteries are drained dead in equipment, and materials often have a negative reaction to sub-zero temperatures. If you are having a new stick built elevator installed, it is important to know about these delays.

Modular elevators are the solution to the weather problems. Click here for the article! 

Free QQ Button 2Click for a free quick quote.


New Year, New Growth for PME

Move to Finish 4In this past year, Phoenix Modular Elevator has made tremendous strides forward in its effort to provide an alternative to stick built elevators that is also faster and easier to install. We have moved to a brand new facility that has improved our quality and speed, with elevators flying through our production process.

We have also added more team members that do everything from welding and drywall to improving the manufacturing process. As a result, we remain the fastest installing commercial, quality elevator available, with the shortest lead time (eight weeks if it’s standard). Due to our unique design of the hoistway and elevator components all in one, there is no better way to have a quality elevator installed in any construction project.

Find out about our growth and future! 

Free QQ Button 2Click for a free quick quote.

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. Click here for a step-by-step guide and the rest of the article. 

Free QQ Button 2Click for a free quick quote.

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.

See the future of elevators here. 

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!

Free QQ Button 2
Click for a free quick quote.