Tag Archives: Elevator

Find the Magic Number – Elevators Per Building

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Photo by Scott Szarapka on Unsplash

Talk about a tricky subject! Few try to tackle it in a blog because no matter what I write, there will be people that take exception. Why is this not just some simple formula with occupancy numbers, building type and square feet? Because it is more complex than that. So don’t worry I will get to rough numbers to help guide you on your project, but with a few caveats. The most important being, a qualified elevator consultant can be a huge help in this area. Consider finding the right one. Now on to the things that you should consider.

The number of elevators needed has a lot to do with many factors that may not be known when a building is in the planning stages and the first thing that gets dropped into the architect’s plans are the ways to go up and down in a building. So do your best with the list below so you can take the rough numbers I am providing and tweak them closer to your needs. Here are the things to consider:

  1. Elevator use. Just people going to work is one thing. Furniture is another. Don’t make the mistake of getting too small a unit. The weight an elevator can hold (larger loads) can change the number you may need. One for passengers one for heavy items.
  2. Who is going to be using the elevator? An elevator that just meets ADA requirements is too small for a gurney.  The DJ and caterers going to an upstairs dance hall will need more capacity and apartment complexes may need a larger/taller elevator cab.
  3. Total number of floors. That goes without saying.
  4. Total travel distance overall and between floors. You can have two floors a hundred feet apart. That would require more speed or multiple stops close together where the elevator will never reach full speed.
  5. What is a reasonable wait time? Some buildings like hotels and offices want a time as close to 25 seconds. Apartments can have a time of up to a minute. Are you willing to pay to keep that number short?
  6. Peak times of use will always slow people down. Will you be willing to foot the bill for another elevator to handle heavy traffic in mornings and evenings? Do you have peak times at all?
  7. Will there be a known traffic pattern? For instance the world’s fastest elevator only travels from the ground floor to a hotel lobby 95 stories up. It was built to accommodate a known traffic pattern.
  8. Square feet of the floors. If a building is very small, the footprint of the elevator may eat up more space than practical and the distance to walk from the elevator to an apartment will be short. In a hotel with multiple wings, many elevators may be needed.
  9. Building codes! These are more influential than most of the above. You must know what is allowed and what is required in your city, state, county or other jurisdiction.

All of the above will ultimately influence your decision making process.  Just keep in mind the point is to serve the maximum number of people with the most minimal waiting time at the highest peak times to disperse the population as fast as possible.

So with all that stuff to consider, here are rough numbers I promised. Remember to be nice when you respond to this blog. Keep in mind that these are very rough number to consider.

Office buildings:

  1. One elevator for approximately 50,000 square feet in use. For every two floors or two and a half floors consider adding one more elevator.
  2. Try not to exceed eight total elevators in a single grouping. No group should serve more than 16 or more floors.
  3. Consider a special service elevator if you are going over four floors. When you get closer to ten it is probably must logistically.
  4. Remember some floors may increase the number of elevators. A common lunchroom contained on a single floor room may force the need for another elevator due to traffic.

Hotels:

  1. Provide one elevator for every 75 rooms or so with a minimum of one elevator
    up to three floors and add one more for four floors. Don’t go past 150 feet from farthest room to elevator.
  2. As you build up and add rooms, remember to add elevators per every 75 rooms.
  3. To help room service and maid service add a service elevator for every two passenger elevators.
  4. Ballrooms, meeting rooms, or expanded lobby areas above the entry level can increase the number of elevators.

Apartments / Condos / Dormitories:

  1. There should be one elevator for every 90 units. A maximum of 150 feet from
    the elevators to the farthest elevator is a must.
  2. City apartments and really high priced units can require an elevator for every 50 – 60 units.
  3. Always have an elevator with higher ceilings (9 feet) and higher weight capacity (3500 lbs) for moving furniture and heavy items. If you are over 10 floors, a service elevator or small freight elevator should be considered.
  4. Four stories or more above grade a gurney sized elevator is required.

Medical Facilities:

  1. In buildings with consistent staff and visitor traffic, consider separate passenger elevators for staff and patients.
  2. Two elevator minimum and one for every 100 beds after that, that patients can access.
  3. Additional elevators may be required if visitors are higher depending on the location of the medical facility.
  4. Dirty elevators maybe needed. Moving medical waste sometimes requires a special elevator.
  5. Additional elevators may be required if operating areas, cafeterias, laundry, central supplies, etc. are on upper levels.

This is my personal cheat sheet based upon our research and experience. But, keep in mind that these number can and will change based upon the factors above and other variables not listed or not even thought of yet. The elevator world is still grappling with large mixed use projects that incorporate several of the above categories into one facility. So be thoughtful, ask plenty of questions and if you need the help contact us or a qualified consultant.

After all of this if you have a project in mind and need a thumbnail number just click the link.

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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.

The electrician was just flat out wrong about required lighting and receptacles in the elevator pit (yes, you still need one for MRL Traction) and shaft as well as shut off requirements, but, more than that, he was quite myopic when it came to overall electric costs. His contention is found in the old canard that hydraulics are significantly more expensive to run as there are no counter-weights. Usually missing in the equation is that hydraulic units cost virtually nothing when they go down (gravity, not an electric motor, does all the work in the case of hydros when they descend). Also, electric is not the only cost in play and ultimately not that important in the overall picture.  But, don’t take my word for it.

One of the companies that pushes a traction mode-of-conveyance the most made this stunning admission in a blog post just three-years ago concerning hydraulic elevators:

Thiesen Blog“In fact, a 2,500 lb. elevator,  traveling a single floor (12 feet) at 100 fpm (feet per minute) and operates 100 runs a day,  does not even use $600 worth of energy in an entire year. So assuming the hydraulic uses more energy than traction, you could have a differential of perhaps just $150 a year in energy cost.” 

But even more shocking is what follows:

“We conducted Life Cycle Costing (LCC) research on low-rise elevators to help customers understand their economic and environmental impacts. LCC looks at the costs involved with a product or service over its entire lifetime. The study showed that over 25 years, the cost to maintain three-stop traction MRL is $173k compared to the same hydraulic MRL which cost $91k.” 

I don’t have to tell you, but that is a huge. They are admitting in basic terms that an MRL traction is, give or take, seven grand out of your pocket every year when a hydraulic is only three thousand-seven hundred. That is for the same travel distance and same number of stops. In addition, there is no increased safety in traction MRLs. So the question is: why are so many people being duped into buying something that is by-and-large identical, but costs more in the initial installation and over the life span of the unit?  Believe me, when a visitor to your building pushes the up button they will not know the difference between the two but, if they do, they will find the ride in a hydraulic to be quieter and smoother (not that we’re counting, but if you’re keeping score at home that is another two wins for hydro).

Again, this is my opinion but it is backed up by facts provided by the Journal of Applied Mechanical Engineering that put the argument between traction and hydraulic to rest in low rise applications. In the article “A Critical Review and Investigation of Machine Room Less (MRL) Elevators” the authors made the following observation: “Hydraulic elevators are more suited to small rise buildings and freight applications.” It doesn’t get more straightforward than that.

But the article goes on to explain: “This report after experimentally mapping the performance of different elevator drives under varying parameters of passenger capacity, severity of service, travel and speed finds that Hydraulic elevators have advantages over traction drives in low rise applications:

  • Substantially lower initial cost of equipment and its maintenance for a given capacity hydraulic elevator equipment cost up to 40% less than traction equipment
  • More building space utilization as the hydraulic elevator utilizes up to 12% less space than an equivalent traction elevator, as the hydraulic system imposes no load on the column the column size can be reduced
  • Effective for high load requirements such as freight elevators
  • Lowest cost down speed among all elevators as gravity is utilized as the motive force

Although the report notes advantages of MRL traction units, it concludes that they have “less seismic safety” and “increased cost of inspection and maintenance.”

CiceroTo the electrician doling out sage advice (contrary to facts) and to anyone else beguiled by the big elevator’s push for more profits in maintenance and installation, I have another quote.

“I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know” ~ Cicero

It is important that, when looking at the elevator alternatives, you do not just listen to sales pitches that will cost you significantly more in the short and long term. Take a look at the facts, determine your needs, and choose wisely.  If you need help assessing what elevator will suit you best, don’t rely on a company that profits from selling you an elevator which will also make them more money in maintenance.  As we are independent, we have no profit motive in the maintenance contract, so we can help (Yes, seriously! We typically subcontract with an independent elevator maintenance company local to you, so we don’t make any profit on the cost of maintenance, no matter what kind of unit you choose). A qualified elevator consultant can assist, as well.

We are not saying that MRL traction units are not an alternative because they are an applicable mode-of-conveyance in the right application. What we are saying is that they have a place and it is just not usually in low rise buildings.  If you have a project in mind, feel free to contact us for a quick quote and our knowledgeable team will happily advise on the most effective and beneficial mode-of-conveyance for you.

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Tales of Elevators Past – Life Lessons for the Holidays

Kelly HeadshotBy Kelly Schloss 

For my family, Christmas and the holiday season is a time to share and recount days past. This year, I’d like to do that in the form of an old cautionary tale of magical doors and a secret room. It is about the thrill of Christmas shopping with mom: discovery, fear, separation, reunion, and my very first elevator ride (that I can remember, anyway).

It all begins in the parking lot of a busy shopping mall during the Christmas season and walking past bell ringers in bright red aprons and dodging icy puddles on a chilly day at  a Chicagoland mall. I was an over-exuberant 8 year old, already straining against holding my mom’s hand or latching on to the stroller of my younger sister. I had been enticed by the tale of shopping for Christmas gifts over Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce (yuck!), and mac and cheese, but had never experienced it for myself. As we moved closer to the entrance, I licked my lips with anticipation and strained to wedge myself in the door first.

As the door swung open, I was not disappointed. A world of wonder, tinseled in silver and gold, unfolded before me as I nimbly pushed my way ahead of the stroller to take it all in. I stood agog as my mother grabbed my hand with a firm, yet gentle jerk and said, “Hold my hand or hold on to the stroller, those are the rules. I don’t want you to get lost.” The tug-of-war with my mom’s hand had officially begun. But, I let her win as almost immediately all of the feeling remaining in my slight paw disappeared as every sense gathered up a stimulation which had not been experienced before.

My ears heard the call of “Merry Christmas!”and “Ho, ho, ho!” as it echoed from Santa’s workshop. I saw with my own eyes real (animatronic) elves laboring on the same toy train over and over, wicker reindeer just like you find at the North Pole, and an enormous button-eyed Teddy bear spinning endlessly on an over-sized wooden block. A blanket of white, puffy, fake snow filled the main intersection with a gigantic, brightly painted rocking horse at the center. The smell of yuletide roasted nuts and General Tso’s chicken wafted through the great hall from the food court nearby and everything was festooned in red and green ribbons from the tallest ceilings to the floor and there were more blinking lights than my eight-year-old eyes had ever seen in one place. People pushed and shoved, stuffed in overcoats and with packages and bags of all shapes and sizes in bright paper and trimmed in ribbons. All the while, trance-inducing Christmas music droned softly on in the background. I had reached an eight-year-old’s version of paradise.

I scarcely could take in all that was attacking my senses. I was in the throes of this exhilaration when I caught my first glimpse of the bright, gleaming, stainless steel elevator doors, gliding open just a few short feet away. I could not control the urges in my feet as I, in a daze of sensory overload pulled my hand from the firm grasp of my mother and bolted toward the now fully open elevator. I instinctively leaped to the middle of the car and turned around just in time to see the ashen face of my mom framed in the large door.

After seeing the look on her face I was dizzied, realizing the colossal blunder I had made. Momentarily, I lost any awareness of my surroundings as the next thing I remember was the swoosh of doors as they magically glided again, this time closed. It was as if some hypnotic spell had pulled me to the car in the first place and away from my mom and now I snapped out of my stupor just in time to see her lunge towards me as the doors closed.  Now the reality, like those once magical doors, was closing in on the fantasy that I had been building. Those shiny hatchways became snarling jaws of entrapment separating me from my family.

As the elevator jerked and my knees buckled, questions began racing in my mind. “Where was I going?” “What had I done?”

There was no escape. I looked desperately around briefly for a friendly face, but there were no children at all and I only found the drawn faces of zombie-like shoppers that haunted the now ever-shrinking elevator. They too, I am sure, had once been lured to the siren’s song of Christmas shopping in their youth, but the shine was far off of that penny and now the drudgery of the event gave them an antidote to the thrill and euphoria I had been experiencing. The sight of Santa Claus, silver bells, and gold trim did not stir them in the slightest and the helpless, far off stare of an eight year old, verging on tears, didn’t either. I let loose with a loud wet sniffle (international language of distress for children) yet none of the weary passengers gave me a second look. I was on my own and separated from the warm hand of my mom. Where was she and how would I get back?

Then, I realized that there was a big glass wall in the elevator. Try as I might I strained to look over the rail in hopes of seeing my mom. But, alas, my efforts were to no avail as I was just too short, even on tippy-toes and the window did not face the right direction. I was trapped with people I did not know, going to a place I had never been and hope was slowly draining from me. Also, in the back my mind I began to wonder about the reception I would receive if I ever did find my way back from the enchanted closet I had be drawn to. Would I be missed and welcomed with open arms? Or sent home and put in time out; the worst possible punishment for wayward children? As I was in deep contemplation (or as deep as an eight year old can be) a friendly bell rang out and the doors slid open again. People pushed out and more people pushed in as I stood stupefied by the process. Before I could even make a motion or utter a single word, the doors abruptly closed again and the elevator took off with a jerk, this time downward.

As it jolted to a stop and the doors opened wide and I could see my mom waiting. She lunged forward, grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the elevator and to her tightly. The feeling of relief was overwhelming and the warmth of her love overcame the fear of retribution or the magical, mesmerizing elixir of the surroundings of the mall center court. Even though I was still at Woodfield Mall, the magic dissipated as tangible reality of that hug hit home.

Don’t worry, we did finish the shopping trip, but I have no idea what we bought. My hand never left the stroller the rest of the day and I did get “time out” when we got home, but the adventure in the elevator has never left me to this day.

So what are the lessons of this tale of Christmas past? There are many: One is to not let the enticements and shininess of the world blind you to the reality of life, even in the holiday season. Another lesson: a mother’s hug has a higher value than all the Black Friday sales combined.  And, maybe, the lesson is to not feel silly about being mesmerized by an elevator as a child (they’re pretty wonder inspiring, even as an adult). Who knows? You might just end up working in the business one day.

Happy Holidays from everyone at Phoenix Modular Elevator.

Factory Built Elevator- Early Planning Makes for Easier Planning

MBI WOM 2There is no doubt that modular elevators are the future for almost any building application, from modular buildings to traditional projects and from low to medium rise and beyond. Everyone knows that modular elevators are simply safer, faster, and smarter.

But they are also easier for everyone involved in the process. Designers, architects, builders, and elevator installers are all helped by the overall concept and tremendous flexibility provided with modular.  However, there is one thing you can do in the earliest phases of construction that can make converting to the modular solution even easier:  consider a modular elevator solution as early in the process as possible.

This is not to say that you can’t consider modular at anytime during the project from design to completion. You can certainly decide on modular late in the game and we are more than willing to help.  We have even been asked to provide a modular elevator solution after a building has been completed. The customer simply got tired of waiting for the stick-built elevator company to show up and get the job done. Turns out, in most cases we can design, engineer, manufacture, ship, and install a quality commercial elevator in less time than a traditional elevator company orders and receives all its components.

However, we would be fibbing if we didn’t tell you that it is just easier overall if you begin the project with modular in mind. The reason lies in the biggest benefit of a modular elevator: that it comes with the completed, manufactured hoistway as part of the package. There is no need to design and engineer CMU walls. Our modular elevator will come with its own specially-engineered, structurally sound 4X4 inch tube steel frame and is clad in one- or two-hour fire rated enclosure.  The structure can also accommodate any hurricane or earthquake zone.  And it can support some gravity loads such as floor joists or stair landings.  So it makes a lot of sense and saves a bit of money to just draw in a hole and leave the engineering to us.

In addition, our standard wall assembly is not as thick as a CMU shaft, so using our footprint in planning will free up a few inches of space to incorporate into the rest of your building.  Our equipment may have a slightly different layout than another manufacturer’s, so it makes sense to decide up front and avoid more design modifications down the road.

Wondering what a modular elevator is?  It’s a prefabricated shaft with the elevator car and other components assembled inside the shaft in our factory.  You can read more about them here.

We can also deliver a “naked” elevator with no drywall wrapping at all. These are used for glass elevators or ones that come with decorative metal hoistways usually for an atrium or mezzanine. This flexibility means that modular elevators can be an early part of the design process.

Many buildings have a clear and intentional look and feel.  A modular elevator is manufactured in a such a way that any cab interior or hoistway finish that would be specified in a stick-built elevator can be utilized in a modular elevator.  So whether you’re looking for durable or high-end, modern or traditional, a modular elevator can deliver it cost-effectively.

To keep the process simple and to give you the ability to put a modular solution in quickly, we provide CAD drawings that can be placed directly in your schematics.

So, when it comes to choosing the next elevator for an upcoming project, call us anytime.  But think about placing the elevator early, for best time-saving results. Click below to get a quick quote if you have a project in mind or call us for a formal quote.

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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. 

Hotels + Modular = The Perfect Solution

Red Roof InnHotels built prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have a decided disadvantage when meeting the needs of potential customers. With only stairs to transport guests to upper floors, people with some disabilities have limited choice of the rooms they can occupy. It also means that people who do not want to carry luggage up a flight of stairs may seek other accommodations.

This issue  will likely grow. With the graying of America, the number of disabled persons will continue to increase from the 57 million current reported by the US Census Bureau. That is a whole lot of people that a hotel without an elevator may not be serving well, or at all.

Since the passage of the ADA in 1990, it has become an expectation that access will be provided. However, many older hotels are not accessible beyond the first floor, and although it is perfectly legal for older hotels to be grandfathered in and avoid ADA requirements, it may not make for the best customer experience. This can also lead to a lower rate per room for higher floors. To combat this problem, one hotelier was able to meet his patrons needs by placing a modular elevator on the exterior of the existing structure.

An ancillary benefit of the modular elevator addition is that employees were no longer lugging heavy laundry carts and other items up and down stairs. The elevator increased staff productivity and morale while also reducing the potential for work-related accidents and injuries. It was a win for the hotel, not only because it opened new possibilities for customer and employees, but because the installation was easy and fast.

For a commercial-quality modular solution, another benefit is time. A hotel does not have to close its doors for an extended period of time during installation, as a modular elevator is lowered into place by a crane in under half a day, and installation can be completed in a week.

The end result is a more profitable, safer hotel that provided access to more potential customers and a way for workers to be more efficient and productive.

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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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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.

The fastest installing elevator begins with a quick quote.
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