Category Archives: Think Beyond Elevators

Innovation the Key – Jefferson the Example

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

The visit to Monticello demonstrated the forward thinking of Thomas Jefferson, but also represented the forward thinking of Elevator U.

Monticello is a UNSECO World Heritage Site, as much because of the uniqueness and innovation as to the fame of its founder, architect, and owner Thomas Jefferson, the third president and writer of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. The home displays dozens of innovations imagined by Jefferson and completed by expert artisan and joiner James Dinsmore. Some examples include, the great clock in the entry hall, dumbwaiters for wine and beer bottles tucked away in the sides of the dining room fireplace mantel, and triple pane windows in a bedroom often used by James and Dolly Madison that could double as exterior doors.

Innovation was what drove Jefferson and that innovation can be seen throughout his life from the words of the Declaration of Independence to his world renowned research gardens and in the home in which he lived.

The visit to Monticello and the innovation it hosts was appropriate because innovation was on full display during the Elevator U conference as well and is a reality throughout the elevator industry as the continued improvements to the vertical transportation industry was often the topic of conversation.

Jefferson

At the conference, the point was made that too often large industries get stuck in a malaise where dominant forces slow innovation and do not experiment with new ways of thinking or provide new solutions to problems that arise. For instance, one of the well noted problems universal to the elevator industry, and the bane of the construction business, is regarding the timeline involved with elevator installation. Let’s be honest for a moment and just say it…traditional stick built elevators are simply not practical to install. Months can pass as a hoistway is built (dependent on weather, for instance), and then several more months can tick away as the elevator is installed vertically inside the cramped quarters of an elevator shaft.

At the conference, many elevator technicians were excited to see that modular elevators have the elevator rails pre-installed and are thereby safer.  Many injuries could be avoided as lifting rails and hanging them in a vertical shaft is no longer needed. Not so long ago, innovation was needed to reduce the timeline and make installation safer, and modular elevators were born. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of these new inventions were installed in schools. We at Phoenix Modular Elevator continue to be very supportive of Elevator U because they are committed to understanding advancements in technology and innovation.

With the help of our friends at Elevator U, the market and need for modular elevators continues to grow as they are a fast, quality solution with installation times of a week or less. They are safer to install and the same quality as their stick-built counterparts. Yet in some quarters, fear of innovation persists and hesitancy to change continues despite the overwhelming advantages.

A lesson from the Monticello trip is that those not willing to change should heed the words of Jefferson himself when he said:

“I am not myself apt to be alarmed at innovations recommended by reason. That dread belongs to those whose interests or prejudices shrink from the advance of truth and science.”

The time is not to shrink from advancements, but to embrace them. If Jefferson were alive today, his home of innovation would not have had a simple dumbwaiter for wine but a modular elevator to every floor of his mansion.

 

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Construction Puzzle Elevator Modular

Piecing it all together

Puzzle FinalBy Russ Ward

My mother loved doing jigsaw puzzles. The more difficult the better, as far as she was concerned. These puzzles became family projects that we all worked on, especially in the winter while we were cooped up in the house on snowy days.

My mom was no novice of puzzle completion and had a strictly adhered to plan in putting them together that made a lot of sense: start with turning all of the pieces to the picture side and then find all of the corners. From there, the rest of the edge pieces were found and put into to place, making an outline of the picture. The rest of the puzzle, one piece at a time, would then follow.

Construction, especially with modular components, is its own kind of puzzle with an organized order to increase the productivity and speed of the project. Especially in today’s competitive real estate market, companies are searching for ways to increase their rate of return by shortening the construction schedule or to simply complete the puzzle faster. To help with this effort, many builders are now utilizing more offsite manufacturers than ever before in the hopes of increasing turnaround time on their projects. In other words, the quicker the building is occupant ready, the faster the owner or developer can start recouping their investment.

Modular elevators, as a piece of this construction puzzle, can help to get the process completed faster because they are so easy to install. Also, unlike several other elements of a building process that are reliant on each other, Phoenix Modular elevators can have flexibility in timing of placement. The alternative to modular elevators, a traditional stick-built, can cause the remainder of the building project to grind to a halt, leaving builders waiting for one, singular piece of the puzzle to be put into place before anything else can get done.  Then, the well rehearsed and thought out plan starts to fall apart. My mom would not be happy.

The common installation timeline for stick-built elevators is approximately one month for a simple, two-stop model. However, when figuring in the hoistway construction, lost or back ordered parts, and bad weather, that timeline is often increased to several months largely due to factors beyond the control of the general contractor. Ultimately, even the easiest elevator project for a stick-built has a usual timeline of six to eight months, if not more. According to Allison Allgaier, President of Phoenix Modular Elevator, it is not unusual for weeks to turn into months when a stick-built option is selected, especially for modular building projects: “We receive dozens of calls from general contractors or design build companies that wished they had called us for a job. It is especially true when the entire project is being held up for six months plus because of the elevator.”

The only solution is a quality, commercial modular elevator.

A prefabricated or modular elevator is a completed hoistway with the elevator car inserted, wired, and ready to be installed. It arrives at the job-site on a flatbed truck, gets craned into place, and, in less than a week, it is fully functional. With a modular elevator not slowing the process, a development can be completed and filled faster. In traditional construction, weather conditions, material availability, and coordinating with other trades on-site can negatively affect the elevator installation timeline. A modular elevator, however, is built inside a factory and is not affected by rain or snow. Also, cold temperatures often stop block-wall hoistways from completion, but this does not slow down the manufacturing process or installation of a modular elevator.

This would make my mom proud, as a well-organized project and use of a prefabricated elevator can trim up to six months off the overall timeline of a multi-story project. There’s no doubt that eliminating six months of fixed costs and overhead from a project’s budget could translate into hefty savings and produce a faster return on investment.

Finding this corner piece and putting it in place is the best way to start.

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8 Weeks Means 8 Weeks

Red DevilsFootballHigh School football is a great place to learn life lessons. Just a few include: (1) teamwork and planning leads extraordinary success, (2) hard work pays off, (3) how to win with grace, (4) how to lose with dignity, and, lastly, punishment is capricious and arbitrary.

Once upon a time, while I was playing football in high school, we lost a big game to a cross county rival. I did my job just fine. I blocked as I should, pushing myself and my opponent the extra yard. Not once did the guy across the line of scrimmage from me take part in any tackle. He never laid a finger on the quarterback or running back, and I did this without landing a single penalty. However, when the time came to pay for the loss, we all took the hit.

At the time, we had a punishment that has since been banned in most high schools as it was both cruel and unusual and was certainly banned by the Geneva Convention: the dreaded belly-flop.  It was a torturous drill that involved chopping your feet as fast as you can, as you moved forward in increments of five yards and then hitting the ground – belly first (hence the name) on each five-yard line when the maniacal, spittle-spewing coach blew his whistle, only to spring back to our feet and continue on our perilous journey up and down the dirt covered practice field.  Regardless of my personal efforts and my on field successes, I too had to join in the cloud of dust churned up by the 20 guys on the team going goal line to goal line.

With the final chirp of the whistle, covered in dirt, mud caked sweat, and literal tears, we aimlessly staggered back to the locker room, dizzy in a state of complete exhaustion. From guys that didn’t even play in the game to teammates that played flawlessly, at least in my opinion, we all joined in the same fate as those that missed blocks, dropped passes, and whiffed on tackles all game long. Capricious and arbitrary indeed. It was a hard lesson to learn, that generalization and stereotyping of the group meant punishment for all. We were all wearing the same uniforms so we must be equally to blame. At least that was what the coach said.

This translates to the business world smoothly and seamlessly.  When I say “used car salesman,” how many picture the caricature instead of the individual?  When I say, “computer programmer,”  how many close their eyes and in their mind conjure up the image of an anti-social, bespectacled nerd? They are punished and scorned because of the pattern of the group. In the elevator industry and business, one stereotype keeps popping up that, no matter how wrong it may be, we all have to pay for. The label we have received is that we are slow to respond and hard to work with.

The generalization is so bad that one construction project manager confided with me that if an elevator installer says a job will take a certain amount of time, he multiplies that estimate by four and is ready for a steady stream of excuses. These excuses come in the form of bad weather, other trades getting in the way, a back order of parts, and poor planning from everyone on the project other than the elevator installer themselves.

As manufacturers of elevators, some of that stereotype rubs off and we have to sport the black eye just like the rest of the industry despite our best efforts to break from the mold of conventional thought. So we can understand the skepticism when we say that a high-quality commercial elevator can be built in just three weeks, have a lead time from drawing approvals to shipping of just eight weeks and be installed in one week or less. To many that know the industry from a consumer’s perspective, that seems unrealistic and quite frankly impossible.

But, it is true. When we at Phoenix Modular Elevator say eight weeks, we mean eight weeks. We have a fantastic process and crew that knows how to get the elevator completed for delivery on time, every time. We utilize one of the other life lessons I learned from high school football and this lesson has nothing to do with belly-flops. Instead, it’s that great teamwork and planning leads to extraordinary success.

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Snake Bit – Fear and the Elevator Business

curie_lab_photoby Russ Ward

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions, as it can create anxiety, foster poor decision making and even immobilize the victim. I, for instance, suffer from ophidiophobia, or fear of snakes. It really is beyond just being scared of them or a simple dislike. It is a deep hatred, and when it comes to snakes, my judgement is indeed clouded.  For instance, I live in a rural area and so you hear tall tales of the scaly creatures ending up in everything, including toilets and car dashboards. When my mind drifts, it tends to drift towards a myriad of “What if’s?” What if a snake gets in the bathroom? What if a snake is in my car? What if I see one in my yard? This has led me to keep a garden hoe within arms reach of my front door, just in case.  I check my car thoroughly each morning before hopping in, and I tend to hover more than relax, if you know what I mean.

Now I can tell you, as a relatively sane man (depending on who you ask), this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  These slithering creatures are a helpful and beneficial part of the ecosystem, keeping disease carrying rodents and insects in check. They are an all important element of the circle of life. However, I can tell you the happiest part of that circle for me was when I saw a snake snatched up from the ground by a Red Tail Hawk and carried off into the distance. As that glorious bird of prey slowly drifted towards the sunset, a tear literally formed in my eye as gratitude for that hawk’s actions swelled my heart. But nevertheless, my disdain for all thing snake is still irrational.

Another common fear, especially in business, is the fear of the unknown. This can sometimes be a great guard against poor choices and force a deeper look when one is needed, but it can also be a blind spot for business if rejecting something out of hand is the standard instead of the exception. Some folks in the elevator industry have exhibited this kind of fear when it comes to the modular industry.  The concept is rejected out-of-hand without proper research or deeper analysis. For instance, many elevator installers are unaware that the bulk of the work of installing a modular elevator is the very same work performed on every installation and that modular elevators are designed to make the installation go fast and as headache-free as possible.

They are also designed to be installed quickly, so with a modular elevator, you won’t have tons of man-hours tied up in hanging rails or building a cab. Both of those items are checked off the to-do list as they come pre-installed in a hoistway. A hoistway, by the way, that is designed to meet all the building codes, including those for earthquakes and hurricanes for every jurisdiction in the US and Canada. This means a faster installation that takes only days can be placed conveniently into an already busy schedule. And as we all know, more installations mean the more opportunities for maintenance contracts.

Getting past fear is a difficult chore, but the benefits outweigh the risks; of course, unless you are talking about snakes.

If you want to do a bit more research, here are a couple of short videos  and a personal testimony that demonstrate how easy the installation process is. The testimonial is a Phoenix Modular Elevator customer regarding their first-hand experience with the time and ease of the getting the elevator they wanted installed. If you would like to be considered to be an installer for projects, click here.  We install across the United States and Canada.

Marie Curie was right, “Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

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Footprints on the Ceiling

142ofc_copyI remember a Classics Illustrated comic book from my youth telling the tales of Abraham Lincoln. One of the stories involved Lincoln gathering a group of younger boys and having them step in the mud with their bare feet. As a prank, Lincoln held each of them upside down and had them walk their feet across the kitchen ceiling, leaving muddy footprints as they went. When his stepmother, Sarah Lincoln, came home and saw the muddy footprints on her ceiling, she threatened to spank him.

Lincoln was 6 feet 4 inches tall at the time, and I can all but imagine seeing the future President bent over his stepmother’s knee, stovepipe hat and all. Also, his stepmother’s initial reaction to the unnatural site of footprints on her ceiling would have been priceless.

Sometimes when our elevators are craned vertically into place and the inspector or elevator technician is in the hoistway for the first time, they, too, have a reaction like Sarah Lincoln. They see footprints going up and down the hoistway walls, along guide rails and around hatchway door openings. Some have even asked our installation crew where the footprints came from and how they could be up and down the vertical hoistway. And no, we don’t hold people upside down.

That is one of the challenges we face when describing the Phoenix Modular Elevator process of manufacturing. In the mind of most elevator professionals, they think vertically when they enter a hoistway or elevator car. It only makes sense, as they have spent years, if not decades, inside a vertical shaft.  For them, it is hard to think of it any other way.

However, our elevator manufacturing process is born horizontally. The hoistway is not built on a work site, but out of tough 4×4 inch tube steel in our production facility. Once the frame is laid out, it is plumbed and squared to make sure the shaft is always perfectly square and straight. Phoenix Modular Elevator workers and inspectors are able to walk alongside the frame, inside and out, testing welds and checking quality. As the frame is constructed, it is placed on a machine that can literally spin the hoistway, so welding in 2×4 C-studs and placing fire-rated drywall takes hours, not weeks. When one side is done, the entire hoistway is rotated to the next side. The guide rails are then installed, leveled and inspected. We know when a hoistway leaves the factory, it is completely square and the guide rails are straight and level.

During this whole process, a great crew of quality inspectors, welders, drywallers and finishers stroll through the hoistway, leaving footprints. Mystery solved.

Simultaneously, the cab is completed to the customer’s specifications. Again, the cab is not inside the shaft; instead, it is built in a separate area of the factory and not in a cramped hoistway. This means building the car is safer, easier and faster. When the car and hoistway are complete, we simply insert the cab in the still-horizontal hoistway. All connections are made, the car and counterweights are roped if needed, and it is ready to be transported by truck to the work site.

So the magician has shown his trick. How did the footprints get up and down the hoistway walls? The hoistway is never vertical until it gets to the site where it is installed faster and easier than a site-built elevator.

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Time – The Most Precious Commodity

russ-head-shot-2

By Russ Ward

Being raised in the the 1960’s and 70s, my friends and I actually lived scenes from movies like Stand By Me and The Sandlot, as well as television shows such as The Wonder Years.  We were close-knit compadres, and many life lessons sprung from the hijinx and innocence of suburban neighborhood living in small town America. Even today when the “gang” gets together to reminisce about days past, there are still nuggets of knowledge that we glean from the stories we tell. For instance, while speaking with a childhood friend recently, I learned an important lesson about time and how precious it is.

That friend was Abe, one of the brightest, most introspective men I know. However, this wasn’t always the case. He, as was the whole gang, was a victim of poor teenage driving habits, often confusing the left pedal with the right. We were all novices behind the wheel with a long list of escapades and close calls where the vertical foot pedal (the gas) was employed rather than the horizontal one (the  brake).  One day on his way to school, all of those close calls and confusion cost Abe significantly, as the front of his parents station wagon made the acquaintance of an innocent automobile.  Word of the accident spread quickly, and later in the day, as the broken hulk of the automobile sat lifelessly in the driveway of 15 Buena Vista Drive, my friends and I stood in the street laughing, making broad gestures and wondering aloud what would become of poor, hapless Abe.

His father was the serious sort and not to be trifled with. Although he was a great and generous man, he played the part of stern father perfectly. He rarely smiled in our presence and he had a glare, through deep bushy eyebrows, that could melt most teenagers right out of their Chuck Taylors. Plainly put, if all of humanity is blessed with one superpower each, this dad’s extraordinary ability was his teenage-dissolving gaze. Couple that vision with the vivid imagination of three hyperbolic teenagers gawking at the dented Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon and one could only imagine the scenes we pantomimed as we brashly discussed the looming punishment that Abe would be facing. Little did we know that behind the bay window of the house that faced the street and the twisted steel hulk of a station, stood father and son.

What was surprising was not what the father said about the three stooges at the end of the driveway. Instead, as I listened to Abe tell the story years later, I was most surprised by his father’s overriding premise that the toll the accident would ultimately take would not be relegated to a bent bumper and caved in fender, but rather to time lost.

After all was said and done, what the father was most displeased with, besides the dented car and the antics of three knotheads,  was the many hours lost due to meetings and phone calls with the insurance company and car mechanics. In his wisdom, he knew time lost would never be found again, a lesson that was not lost on Abe through the years. He knows that the problem with time is that it is often difficult to quantify, like a mist that slips past us unnoticed. Because of this experience, he is more cognizant of the clock and how precious each second can be.

You’re probably asking yourself, what does this have to do with modular elevators? One of the benefits of modular elevators is the time savings.

A construction expert put it this way: traditional elevators have a minimum six month installation time, regardless of the upfront estimate. Modular elevators, on the other hand, can be installed in as little as one week. He went on to say that, using rough math, if installing an elevator in a hotel of 100 rooms at approximately $100 per room per night takes six months to install, this results in approximately 180 fewer days of occupancy. This comes to 1.8 million reasons to contact Phoenix Modular Elevator and find out more about the fastest installing, quality commercial elevator in the world. As Benjamin Franklin observed, time is fleeting, but it is also quantifiable. Just ask Abe and his dad.

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A simple elevator button panel from phoenix modular elevator.

All Eyes Are On Your Fixtures

interior-elevoatr-car
A clean professional look is often warranted.

In a CNN online article about boutique hotels,  the focus was on impressive finishes and features of various boutique hotels around the world. The story highlighted several pieces that made up the architectural design and set the hotels apart, enhanced the experience and told visitors exactly what the hotel is all about.

For instance, in the article it shows the lobby of the Hotel Vagabond in Singapore. It is outfitted with several imposing pieces, including a golden elephant “hoisting” up the main elevator. The work was designed by artist Franck Le Ray and his artistic ability certainly added a unique touch to the lobby. It gives the visitor’s eye plenty of opportunities to remain busy while waiting patiently for the elevator. Beyond that, it lets you know precisely where you are, in a unique place that is fun and exciting. Cladding the hoistway with the impressive sculpture was certainly a departure from the ordinary, but the lesson learned should go deeper.

The lesson is not about putting a massive pachyderm in your lobby at all, but instead forces the question “What message do the elevator fixtures, hall calls, car interior and hoistway finishes say about the building you are in?” Most likely, if you are reading this blog post, you are not in a Singapore hotel, but that should not prohibit you from thinking about the message your elevators give to visitors. It is important because the one place that you know for sure people will look in your building, beyond almost anywhere else, is the elevator and its fixtures.

Think about it. You go through the lobby with your eyes darting all over the place. You are taking in the visual cues from the front desk to the lobby furniture, but then all that visual stimulus stops when you press the elevator button.  You look down at the button, give it a gentle poke and your eyes move immediately to the floor indicator. Unless interrupted, it generally stays there until the elevator arrives. You then walk into the elevator car, taking in the look and feel, and again your eyes shift to the floor indicator light. That’s a lot of time and opportunity to tell people about your organization by the look of the car and the fixtures. Sometimes the elevator conveys a professional feel with a clean, simple, efficient buttons and displays. Other times, something more quirky or modern is warranted.

The same is true with the hoistway. If the elevator is on the outside of the building, it should enhance or at least work with the architectural vision of the building. If the elevator is a free standing element of the lobby, it has to be carefully integrated with the interior design.

Fortunately, if you are thinking about a new elevator, Phoenix Modular Elevator has a solution that is right for you. We have flexibility to make architectural design easy with a hoistway that can be clad in any material you need, even a golden elephant. Also, the interior of the elevator car can be custom made, from standard laminates, stainless steel to unique coverings such as barnwood or any combination of the three.  The fixtures can also be any style or type available, from a classic look to modern. This will help your architect design the impact you are looking for.

From simple, off-the-shelf elevators to one of a kind masterpieces, we can accomplish anything you desire. Your building lobby may not need a golden elephant, but never let limited options prevent you from that if it is your dream.

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Lightening the Architectural Load

california-architectBeing an architect is one of the most demanding occupations in existence.  Years of study, combined with formal training and on the job experience, is required. Added to the mix is the pressure of perfection coupled with a demand for creativity. Sometimes it seems like there are very few ways for architects to escape the woes, stresses and strains of the occupation they have chosen when working on a project.

One solution to lighten this load is to consider modular construction for some project building components. Oftentimes, modular solutions are easily incorporated into drawings and plans with drag and drop capabilities. Modular elevators fall into this category, as they provide a fast, simple solution for vertical transportation, as well as a flexible hoistway  and car design.

claifornia-architect-2In this picture of a medical center in California, the focus is on the elevator hoistway’s exterior design. It is clad with architectural metal wall panels that give it a professional, cutting edge look that matches the rest of the building perfectly. The hoistway was able to easily fit within the architect’s vision, one which allows the elevator to enhance, rather than disrupt, the building design.

In addition, there is flexibility in placement. Modular elevators can be placed on the exterior or interior of a building or even be free-standing in an atrium. The possibilities are truly endless.

To make placement of the elevator as painless as possible, most modular component companies provide drawings that can easily be placed into project drawings. This was true in the example project. Not only was the architect able to drag and drop the hoistway details into the project plans, but the machine room drawings were also available.

While the job of an architect is filled with angst, tests, demands and pains not associated with many other occupations, there are some technologies that help lighten that burden just a little bit.

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Office Spaces wants a Phoenix Modular Elevator.

Nationally Televised Program to Feature Phoenix Modular Elevator

office-spacesMt. Vernon, IL/August 4, 2016 – A nationally broadcast television program will feature Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME). Television producers for Office Spaces™, a program on Lifetime® Television and airing  on Fox Business channel, contacted the Mount Vernon, Illinois, company. They made arrangements for videotaping the production and placement of one of their modular elevators.

The producers were looking for an elevator product to be featured in a current building project that would install quickly and meet the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. Production and installation will begin filming in late summer or early fall and will be broadcast near the end of the year.

Office Spaces is solutions oriented and reveals the step-by-step transformation of an office space.  The program features various products and services used in the transformation and illustrate how they fit in as part of a major renovation of an office building. It is hosted by combined-fox-lifetime-smallKalyn Rothaus, a commercial interior designer for the building project, as well as the project manager.

Kalyn and her team have already transformed much of the interior of the building project; however, transportation to the second floor was still needed – until she found Phoenix. “I am excited to be working with PME for Season Two of Office Spaces! My design challenge is to create ease of access to the second level for all employees with a cost effective solution. When I came across PME, I knew that they had exactly what I was looking for. I am excited to learn more about modular elevators and have my client benefit from a modular solution!”

PME is thrilled to be one of the featured brands for this renovation and looks forward to showing viewers how modular elevators are the safest, easiest and most cost-effective solution for vertical transportation needs.

PME is a Mt. Vernon, Illinois, elevator manufacturer that produces high-quality, commercial modular elevators that are comprised of a steel hoistway with the elevator car and components completely pre-wired and installed inside. This makes PME elevators the fastest installing elevator available. The units are found across the United States and Canada and used in schools, universities, hotels, stadiums, amusement parks, office buildings, government buildings and churches. Phoenix Modular Elevator has been constructing modular elevators since 1995.

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Factory Quality with Design Versatility

800px-a-line1913

In 1913, when Henry Ford rolled out the first Model-T from a factory in Highland Park, MI, the manufacturing process was forever changed. Seventeen million cars later, this moving assembly line increased the quality and speed of manufactured goods while simultaneously lowering prices.

Exact tolerances could be obtained in the factory environment that were not achievable before large-line production became commonplace, resulting in improved quality.  Due to ever increasing efficiency of the assembly line, speed of production also increased. The first Model-T’s took over 12 hours to build, but by 1927, the factory cut production time dramatically, spitting out an impressive 9,000-10,000 cars per day. Assembly line production also allowed the price to plummet. In 1925, the price of a touring car version of the Model T was just $290, $560 less than the initial price in 1909.

This new, improved quality and efficiency, plus the drop in price, was unique thanks to the production system,  where prices for the product diminished as better cars were manufactured. We have seen similar improvements in almost every industry where mass production is employed. For instance, many credit a lesser known Ford employee, William “Pa” Klann, with the innovative manufacturing process after observing a slaughterhouse in Chicago. What works with meat, works with cars and even works with elevators and modular building overall.

In the construction industry, assembly line production of various components in a commercial building is now commonplace. Just like the Model-T, quality and speed of production increases while prices drop. It is now realized that quality can be increased when efficiency is introduced in a factory setting, even when building the various parts of a commercial structure.

The downside to Henry Ford’s assembly line dream of an affordable car for the masses and the argument of some detractors of a manufacturing process, is that choice is restricted. As proof of the lack of flexibility, it is pointed out that Henry Ford famously equipped, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.” Although the earliest Model-T’s came in several colors, by 1914, there was precious little versatility in the “Tin Lizzy.”  It turns out that black paint was less expensive and it had a shorter drying time, so color was sacrificed for efficiency.

The image of the all black Model-T led many to incorrectly assume that something manufactured in a factory setting will always result in less choice. While some segments of manufacturing have limited choice, this is not true for all. For example, when a modular manufactured elevator is produced and installed, the interior designers and architects have complete control over the look of the cab design, as well as the size of the elevator, number of stops and the type of propulsion (hydraulic, traction or machine roomless), just like the stick-built version. The elevators can be constructed to match any interior and exterior design.

The only difference between an old-fashioned, stick-built elevator and a modular is the construction layout. Modular elevators are constructed horizontally on a factory floor to ensure stringent standards are met, resulting in increased quality while also allowing for faster construction and fewer job site delays. It also means that the elevator will be competitively priced and take less time to install. A modular elevator has approximately eight weeks of lead time and a one week installation time, while a stick-built elevator can take between six months to a year or more from start to finish.

Current modular elevators are high quality and built with exacting standards, and unless you know you are in a factory-built elevator, you would never know the difference. And unlike the Model-T, they come in more colors than black.

The fastest installing elevator begins with a quick quote.
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