Tag Archives: Elevators

Superpsyched About Modular Elevators

russ-head-shot-2By Russ Ward
I recently ran a crossed a web page that was a breath of fresh air. It was a gentleman that was a self-proclaimed promoter, inventor and entrepreneur who was very excited about what he was doing. As a matter of fact, he was more than just plain old excited. He made the leap past “psyched” into the realm of “SUPERPSYCHED” (that’s right: all caps, all one word) about life and his life’s dream.
After a few chuckles and couple of outright guffaws, I wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes and asked myself a serious question: What superpsychs me? And when was the last time that my excitement level at work was so high that I used all caps to describe it? Sure, in my personal life I have been superpsyched a number of times. I was superpsyched about the birth of my children, my favorite ball team winning the World Series and most importantly, getting married to the absolutely perfect woman. But at work, it seems that excitement train has long left the station. This is especially true in the elevator business, as the daily grind can make excitement a stretch to say the least. Let’s face it: some days, work can be as stale as a three-day-old doughnut.
So, if I am going to be aiming a bit higher, I need to see if I can even reach that level. In boring fashion, I thought I would do a little investigating to see if I even had it in me to be superpsyched anymore. So I consulted the absolute best source for a checklist of attributes of what superpsychdome looks like: the Urban Dictionary.  What I found was absolutely fascinating and the definition included a list of what it looks like:
  • being “Psyched” to the point of excitement
  • mild insanity
  • increased heart rate
  • loss of focus
  • loss of appetite
  • staring into space
  • insomnia
  • bed-wetting

I figure that if I can put a check mark next to half of the items above, then I do have the capability to achieve the ever illusive superpsychdome. On the plus side of the ledger, I can get excited, have been accused of mild insanity, can demonstrate an increased heart rate and can lose focus on occasions (just ask that perfect wife of mine). That seals it and good thing, too, because I rarely lose appetite, have trouble sleeping or wet the bed. So I can achieve the near Narvanic (seeings how we are making up words) state of being superpsyched.  But, what at work can push me to capitalize all those letters? What about Phoenix Modular Elevator and our product can drive me to the point of over-excitement?

Consider this. When we sell a modular elevator, we are saving an elevator installer time, money, and an aching back from lifting rails; we are saving months off a general contractor’s timeline; we give project investors a fast return on the dollar; we are saving the environment because factory-built means more efficient material usage and less waste; we are giving architects a blank canvas for design inside and out, as well as simple drag and drop drawings; we are saving building owner’s money; we are making buildings wheelchair accessible; we are helping people to new heights; and we are providing a necessary product to millions of people. We do all that with a smile on our face and a helpful voice on the other end of the phone.

Ya know what? I am SUPERPSYCHED about modular elevators!!!

If you want to be SUPERPSYCHED too, just click here for a quick quote.

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Don’t Suffer Buyer’s Remorse

Empty WalletRecently, we got an all-too-familiar email when following up on an apartment complex bid we had put together on an elevator project. We had been asked to provide a bid for a new project, and about a year had passed since the project had been awarded.  We were not the vertical transportation solution chosen. However, this type of email exchange is something that has become very common for us as the prospective customer checks their wallet at the end of the project and finds out it is empty.

In answering our question about how the project was going, the customer responded, “As you know, the contractor went with a conventional unit, which on the surface is cheaper.  However, if all the costs were included, I’m sure we picked the wrong one. Anyway, I like what you are doing and will look forward to working with you in the near future.”

He went on to say that the person in charge of accepting the bid had failed on a number of levels leaving many scratching their heads and wondering how the cost got so far out of whack. First and foremost, the cost analysis completed had not included the expense of building a stick-built hoistway. Our units, of course, include the hoistway, complete with finished doorways and hall calls ready to go, with the elevator car inserted in our factory and all of the wiring already complete. It is ready for installation, whether traction or hydraulic. The four-by-four-inch tube steel hoistway is wrapped in drywall to provide a one- or two-hour fire rating and will accept any finish, whether it is going on the interior or exterior of a building.

Pleasant Prairie

The customer was also frustrated with the constant delays of the project by the stick-built elevator company.  Starts and stops are not unusual on a big apartment complex project, but the delays coming from an elevator contractor can be maddening.  Keep in mind, the old-fashioned stick-built elevator companies will say they have a 16-week lead time, but they are not including construction of the hoistway. This means that the elevator hoistway is the first thing built and there it sits until the project has the electric turned on.  Then they start placing the rails and building an elevator car inside the hoistway (the dumbest way to build an elevator).  Weeks to months later, it is finally finished. We have an eight-week lead time and less than a week installation. One of our current clients estimates our solution can shave six months off the total construction time. Faster completion means quicker occupancy.

Third on the list of complaints was a steady stream of change orders.  When we price a project, we don’t just throw rough numbers or standard designs out there that do not match your expectations and then change-order you to death when it is not what you wanted.  We take the time to read the specifications closely and deliver a proposal as close to the final price as possible. We know this keeps us from being competitive on some jobs, but we are willing to take that chance. Knowing what you as the customer want and delivering an accurate bid are important to us, and we hope it will be for you as well.

Lastly, ongoing costs of long-term maintenance agreements drive the cost of the elevator way up when dealing with the Goliath elevator companies.  Over a 25-year span of time, maintenance for a single three-stop traction unit from a major elevator company is nearly $180,000.  Many unknowingly are inking a lopsided deal that spans the best ten years of the life of an elevator and auto-increases every year. Our elevators have non-proprietary parts that allow for flexibility and shopping of maintenance contracts. This can be a significant savings over time. Our elevators also come with a one-year initial maintenance contract that can be shopped if the customer is not satisfied with the service.

For all the above reasons, the prospective customer felt buyer’s remorse. We may have lost the first bid, but we gained a life-long customer in the process. Hopefully, you will skip the pain of overpaying and start with a modular elevator from Phoenix Modular Elevator.

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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.

So, to put everyone’s mind at ease, let’s cover the basics on not only the pit but also the foundation for the modular machine room, if your project is going that route. You can also find this info on our website for easier access later.

  1. Typical pits have 8” thick walls and 12” thick floors. However, always consult your pit layout drawings for precise measurements for your specific job.
  2. If you have a sump hole, cover it with a non-combustible material, typically a sheet of metal.
  3. Pour a concrete slab for the modular machine room, if ordered. Purchase epoxy anchors to bolt it to the foundation after it is set. If the machine room is not adjacent to the hoistway, piping and electrical must be run underground or overhead. Coordinate with PME and the installer to determine any building preparations needed to accommodate this.
  4. Once the pit has been poured and the anchor bolts are in place download this Pit Drawing Form. Fill out all the blanks with exact measurements and make sure to include the project name at the top. Email the form to us. With this completed form the holes on our hoistway for the anchors will be as accurate as possible.

More detail and tips include the following:

Picture8Pit Depth – You only want to pour the pit once so, pay close attention to these instructions. The pit should be exactly 4’ deep, measured from top of finished floor to pit floor. Our tower’s legs are 3’11” long, made to sit an inch off the pit floor, with grout underneath. This allows for some adjustment if the pit floor isn’t perfect. The adjustments are done by putting a ¾” thick leveling nut and washer on the anchor bolts before lowering the tower down. Adjust the nuts as needed to plumb and level the tower. Install washers and nuts on top of the tower base plates and tighten. Grout below the base plates.

What do you do if the pit is too deep? The base plates can sit more than 1” off the floor, but if the anchor bolts are too short as a result of the extra depth, extra in-field welding will be required to produce a stable connection.

Err on the long side on the anchor bolts. They should protrude a minimum of 3.5” from the pit floor, but making them a few inches longer poses no problem with installation and gives you breathing room if the pit is too deep.

(On the other end of the spectrum) Pit too shallow: If minor, this could require grinding away a bit of concrete around the anchor bolt. If major, the pit might have to be re-poured. Avoid this at all costs! Too deep is better than too shallow!

Pit.jpgLength and Width – The pit should be the out-to-out steel dimensions plus 1” on all sides for clearance when sliding the tower into the pit. Note that the enclosure of the elevator shaft stops at the top of the pit. If needed or wanted, for above-ground pits, we can extend that enclosure down further. If the pit is too big, it’s not a big deal. However, you’ll need to make sure it’s properly flashed to keep out water and fire caulked to maintain the fire resistance of the hoistway.

Pit too small: Oops, you’re going to have to tear out some concrete. No easy fix for that.

Wall protuberances – The tower slides in right along the walls on its way to the pit floor, so it will catch on any protrusions. Once it’s set, there are openings in the structural framing that piping can be run through. Before lowering the elevator, terminate any penetrations such as PVC liner or piping at the pit wall. Run any piping/electrical after the tower is set. Note that the diagonal rods are for stabilization while uprighting the tower and may be removed after bolting the tower down, if they’re in the way.

Sump hole in corner – The base plates sit in the 4 corners and need a solid surface to rest on. If your pit has a sump hole, make sure it’s at least 12” from any corner.

Pit 2Anchor Bolts – When you pour the pit, anchor bolt placement is very important for elevator installation as this directly effects where the modular elevator will be placed. Please make sure the distance of the bolts from building is right and make sure to include the building finishes when calculating where to place the “front” anchor bolts. Too far away can be bridged with flooring, drywall, and flashing. Too close means reworking of the anchorage.

Check Please – Check, check and check again! Measure three times. Check your prints twice. Cross square them. This is critical. Incorrect placement may require torching out the base plate holes, moving anchors, or other work to provide alternative anchorage. If you know in advance that the placement is slightly off, we can widen the base plate holes in the factory, which is easier than doing it in the field. We can also supply an anchor bolt template to make bolt placement a little easier and more accurate.

Other Pit Info – If the lowest stop is above grade, alternative construction can be used for the pit. The pit floor can be poured as a slab and then walled in afterwards with CMU. Also, the elevator shaft can be finished down to the pit level to provide the pit “walls.” Note that you should at least have a short stem wall to keep water out of the pit area.

Lastly, we want this to be a success for you. If you have any questions at all, contact our team. Our engineer, Tim House, is always ready and willing to help. Feel free to call or email him at thouse@phoenixmodularelevator.com. Here is a video that walks you through the process of installation. You may find it helpful.

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A Blank Canvas – The Architect’s Dream

nypl.digitalcollections.b3afd5e1-27a1-4acf-e040-e00a180661f0.001.wArchitects often see setbacks worthy of quitting when trying to integrate the restrictions and requirements of GC’s into their artistic design.

One of history’s most important artists could have also let setbacks and failures crush him as a young painter. Giving up would have been more than understandable, as Paul Cézanne’s father saw no future in the world of art for his son and, ultimately, was instrumental in pushing his young son to study law and work in the bank he had founded instead of following his heart.

Further disappointment followed when Cézanne finally applied to enroll in the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris (one of the most prestigious schools) and he was rejected almost immediately. Likewise, in the various salons in Paris, time and again his work was refused. A lesser man’s dreams would have been extinguished and one could only imagine the pressure and anxiety that accompanied every stroke of the brush.  It’s no wonder he was quoted as saying, “It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”

The blank canvas to Cézanne was equally torture and pleasure, but none can dispute the energy he drew from it. It led to him being one of the most influential artists of his time. He was drawn to the blank canvas, simultaneously pushed and pursued by it.

In the “mother art” (architecture – according to Frank Lloyd Wright), architects too are drawn to the blank canvas. Read the rest of the article here!

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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. We can get you an elevator in just eight weeks …Find out how here! 

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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.

The fastest installing elevator begins with a quick quote.
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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.
To get an elevator start here with a quick quote!