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.
The labor market is getting tighter and tighter, especially with a 3.9% unemployment rate, and actual jobs are now more plentiful than those seeking them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau is an arm of the United States Department of Labor and they track and report all things labor in the US. According to the official statistics, simply put, we have more job openings than people to fill them. This labor crunch is clearly evidenced by the most recent numbers of people filing for unemployment. It is the lowest rate since 1969 and many say it is due to employers holding on to employees because they fear not being able to find replacements. This trend is also demonstrated in a recent phone call we received at Phoenix Modular Elevator.
The phone call was from a manager of a regional elevator company that has new installations as a large part of their book of business. For the first time ever, he called us to get details on our modular solution that he had seen at a recent trade show. But strangely, it was not due to our fast installations (less than a week with standard hydraulic models), nor was it due to the price, which is usually very competitive. It was due to the fact that he was having significant difficulties in filling elevator technician positions with qualified employees in his company. That was leading to the unusual problem of people wanting elevators, the company wanting to provide them, but having no way to get them installed in any reasonable time.
As the manager started looking for solutions, he remembered us and modular quickly became the best way to provide elevators to a customer base that needed them.
But his questions were not all about installing more elevators faster. He dug deep during our conversation about quality and safety. He was not going to install anything that was substandard or less safe than what he could provide through traditional, old-fashioned elevator installation. To his surprise, he found that our high-quality commercial elevators have parts that are from solid, tried and true elevator supply companies and are always non-proprietary. This means that his crews could trust our product and get them up and running with little problem because everything from door openers (that come pre-installed) to controllers were from companies they were familiar with and liked to work with.
He also loved the fact that a modular machine room was available that comes largely finished with a tank, pump and motor already installed and ready to go once power is available. It seemed too good to be true, so he began to question safety.
Over the years, he had seen plenty of good elevator technicians forced to leave the business due to injuries usually associated with lugging around heavy rails and being forced into tight working conditions in very cramped elevator hoistways. Anyone in the elevator business can tell you it is not very kind to the back, and Tylenol is often gobbled up more often than M&M’s. He was extremely relieved to find a company that cares enough about elevator technicians to do most of the heavy lifting for them. No more rails to be installed in a vertical shaft and the car is assembled separately from the hoistway and inserted with all the wiring before it is shipped.
With all of these huge benefits, not only was he instantly sold, but he wanted to start selling them himself. We were able to provide the perfect solution to the problem of lack of qualified labor, and he found a quality solution that was not only faster to install, but safer for his employees.
When you are producing a truly revolutionary product, there are often misunderstandings and communication gaps about how it works and why it is the absolute best product for the market. This is especially true when your invention was produced by thinking completely outside of the box and smashing the old-fashioned way of doing things so profoundly. Let’s face it; a lot of old-timers are more comfortable grasping buggy-whips than a new concept. So, they fight by filling people’s heads with objections and downright falsehoods. Also, there is a component of not wanting to change. Instead of looking for the best solution, copy and paste comes a lot easier and bad mouthing comes quicker than honest research, so myths are built.
The result is we get a lot of questions from people that are interested in the best elevator available for low and mid-rise applications, but they have questions that are, well, questionable because they have been so mesmerized by big elevator and modular detractors. We do have other forums we use to dispel the myths of the elevator industry. For a sample of how we have torn holes in dated premises, you can check out our two blogs, Elevator Schmelevator and Easy Up.
But for this blog post, we will cover some of the more common myths, disinformation and honest questions we have heard over the years.
Does your elevator sway in normal use?
“No. Are you crazy?” springs to mind. We think this myth comes from the fact that when engineering for earthquake-prone areas, every building (which a hoistway is often classified as) has to allow for some shaking. Our units can be completely self-supporting, so for earthquakes areas, there have to be allowances just like for any other self-supporting structure. But rest assured during normal use, our elevators that are self-supporting do not shake and if they reach a certain height for travel, they are attached to the building. There is a whole lot of engineering that has gone into the hoistways and elevators we produce. They are manufactured with steel, not spaghetti noodles, and safe in every respect.
Can your elevator be made without a pit?
This myth’s origin is easy to track down. For some, the term “modular” has the connotation to be for home, not commercial, construction, and depending on the brand of vertical conveyance, the pit depth can vary for in-home units. To contribute to the fable, our elevators have gone into some homes, but they are all commercial quality with a standard pit as required by law. So, if you have a little walking around money and want a home elevator just like you find in a commercial setting, give us a call. We will gladly produce you the fastest installing elevator, but you will need a standard four foot pit.
How can elevator construction be safer with modular?
You have to have the right tone for this question for it to make sense; incredulity and disbelief is the right way to read this. You know, like you have been doing something one way your entire life and you know there is no better way. Go ahead try it again. I see you are still struggling. Try stressing and dragging out the word “safer” and actually use air quotes with your fingers as you speak. There – now you get the tone. Now let me run the short list of why elevator construction and the work-site is safer with modular. No lifting rails, no building an elevator car one piece at a time inside the hoistway, no open doors to fall through, no scaffolding to erect, no CMU blocks to stack, no rails for counter-weights to install, no jacks to pick up and many, many more. If worker safety were really the concern of some people, all elevators for low and mid-rise would be modular. They are that safe!
Why is factory-built better?
Ahh, finally an honest question. We never roll our eyes when we hear this question because it really is the main reason to get a modular elevator instead of the old way of doing things. First, understand that the big elevator companies don’t really have an elevator factory. They have a parts facilities where they gather up what they need from other companies, produce a few things themselves and then box it all up and send them to a work-site. Think of it this way. Imagine buying a car and instead of a new Ford in your driveway, the Ford dealership drops off pallets of parts to make a car and then a mercurial technician stops by at their whim and puts the car together. You wouldn’t call it a manufactured car at all and quality would be suspect. That’s the old way of doing elevators. The right way is in a factory setting where quality is easier to manage, where consistency can be maintained, inspections take place, where the inspector can literally walk the hoistway and check rails for being level and plumb. Factory built is better.
Do you use cheaper parts?
Nope; another myth. It’s time to reveal a dirty little secret of the elevator industry. Ready? There are only a few companies that make each component of an elevator. From door openers to jacks, motors to sheaves, component companies are limited, and some of the big name brand companies make little more than nameplates. So all elevator parts pretty much come from the same manufacturers. Believe it or not, we have a part or two from a major elevator company in our elevators because in that specific case, they make a good quality part. The bottom line is that when you buy modular, there is no sacrifice in quality when it comes to the parts we use. Also, all parts always meet required codes.
A big elevator company said we needed a traction elevator for speed even though its less than ten feet of travel. Why are you recommending hydraulic?
Now we are getting to a personal bug-a-boo of mine. I hate it when people deceive to sell up. We all know what “selling up” is since McDonald’s started asking “Would you like fries with that?” The difference between McDonald’s and big elevator companies is that McDonald’s asks; they don’t act like a french fry expert and then tell people they must have golden strips of fried potato goodness due the burger code or you can only swallow your hamburger if you eat a handful of fries first. More than one person has contacted us to check if a two stop elevator with 10 feet of travel had to be traction because of speed. Really? In 10 feet, if the elevator hit its maximum speed, you would be peeling yourself off the floor. So why the up sell? Maintenance contracts. Traction elevators pull in a lot more cash each and every month. It is the same with proprietary parts. Elevators have them so elevator companies can bleed you dry in maintenance costs. Speaking of proprietary parts…
Why are you against proprietary parts?
After publishing several articles on this subject in our blogs, we got several questions about proprietary vs. non-proprietary. I got a little misty knowing that 3000+ blog visitors each month are actual humans and not bots just crawling our page. In any case, all proprietary parts do is turn the elevator owner into a hostage. The big elevator companies hold the tools and codes for repairs and will not release them. This ties the hands of the owner for the life of the unit. No matter what you do, you cannot get out of the deal and the elevator company can raise your maintenance costs at will and do maintenance and repair when they want. Unfortunately, not enough architects, GCs and building owners have learned about this game, so they will continue to be an unwilling partner or saddle end users with huge bills they can’t get out of. We never have and never will use proprietary parts. Proprietary parts are evil.
Are modular elevators approved by the government?
Our elevators meet or exceed every jurisdictional requirement for every governmental entity across the United States or Canada. From the Alaska Ice Road to Brooklyn, NY – Los Angeles, CA to Prince Edward Island, we have met codes for both the hoistway and elevators. To accomplish this, we have certified welders on staff to meet that need and we welcome outside inspectors to our factory when required. To top that off, we are also a big hit with the government itself. When you ride an elevator in many US bases and installations (we can’t say which ones), you will be in a Phoenix Modular Elevator including a fair number of VA Medical Centers. Yes, we are very much approved or can be approved in any jurisdiction.
Okay, you got me. Why doesn’t everyone insist on modular?
Ya got me, too. Everyone should. To find out pricing on a current project, just click the button below.
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. Find out how modular makes elevator construction safer.
When 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. Get the straight story on modular here!!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.
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? Get the answer here!
Time 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.
“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.
We 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.
In 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.