Tag Archives: Manufacturing

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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New Location – Get an Invite to the Grand Opening and Tour

Usually, this blog is all about the application and use of modular elevators as a fast, easy solution for multi-story structures.  However, every once in awhile, you have to blow your own horn. So here we go! As of January 1, 2017, Phoenix Modular Elevator has a brand new location!

 

last-truck-leavingAs most of you that follow our Facebook page or Twitter account  know, we have been working over the past several months to upgrade our capabilities through an improved production facility, and it has finally taken place.

For nearly 20 years, we have been assembling modular elevators out of an old shoe factory in the middle of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. While historic, this building was far from ideal. It was a multi-story structure with various components of a completed quality elevator built in several locations throughout the building. It was old and drafty to say the least, and a real pain for those that delivered our elevators across the US and Canada. Backing into our depot from a narrow city street was more than an inconvenience, it was a struggle. Also, the old plant limited our volume because of the size of our factory floor.

Our new 25,000 square foot factory is twice as large as our old building, which not only gives us more room to work, but also provides a more efficient production layout. All production will take place on one floor, meaning no more shuffling of hoistways and elevator cabs up and down floors. Completing multi-tower elevators will be easier and will also allow us to mass produce elevators faster for customers that want a large quantity of elevators delivered at the same time.

 

eterior-new-plantThe new location is located in a recently opened industrial park at 4800 Phoenix Drive, still in Mt Vernon, Illinois. It is right at the crossroads of Interstates 57 and 64, making delivery to both coasts and Canada easier.

While we are already up and running, we will be hosting a grand opening and factory tour in the Spring when the weather is a bit better. During the tour, we will be demonstrating how we make modular elevators and what makes them safe and fast to install. We will have personnel available to answer any of your questions regarding elevators and what makes modular elevators the best solution for most building projects. We want you to come and celebrate with us. Click the link below to get your invitation.

Click Here!!!! if you want to get an invitation!

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

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!

 

Breaking Old Ways of Thinking

RoastA lecturer once told a familiar story about a young newlywed that was preparing a roast for her husband. It is a good lesson about breaking old ways of thinking so I will retell it here.

The husband was watching his new wife as she prepared a roast for their first meal together, before she put the roast in the pan she cut off the end. This made him curious so he asked, “Why did you cut the end off?” She replied, “I’m not sure it’s the way my mom always did it.” Now she was the one that was curious and called her mom and asked her why she always cut the end off the roast before cooking it. Her mom said she didn’t know why either, but it was the way her mom always cooked roast. Not satisfied and undeterred the newlywed called her grandmother and asked her the same question, “Why cut the end off the roast?”   Her grandmother simply replied, “I never had a pan large enough for the whole roast so I always cut a bit off so it would fit.”

Every day we take action, consciously and unconsciously making decisions that impact our business and those we work with. But how often do we truly consider why we take the actions we take. There is some justification for not overthinking everything we do. Some habits are healthy and even save our lives, like brushing our teeth and signaling before we change lanes. But when it comes to the day to day business actions we take when do we consider “Why do it this way?”

Most of our behaviors were formed years ago, as a youth or when we first started our practice and others more recently. But, many of our behaviors come out of circumstances that may no longer be relevant or are from another place and time.  Despite this we continue to repeat the same actions over again without a thought of why. We should question if our behavior is an anachronism that has outlived its usefulness.  We should consider what we should do differently and more effectively if not constrained by the ghosts of past behaviors. We must review our actions and make change where change is needed. This demonstrates leadership by understanding that change is not the enemy, but something that needs to be examined, considered and implemented if it truly is a better way.

When polling a group of architects about modular elevators I could see the “roast” popping up all around me. Each admitted they had not thought of quality modular elevators as an alternative because they just did things the way they always had done things before. Each had heard of the concept but had not explored the possibilities, as a result a modular elevator was not even a consideration.

However, once I described the factory process, high quality, standards, speed of construction, reduced installation time and lower cost they began to change their minds and thought of several commercial applications.

Whether you are considering modular elevators or not remember that leadership requires flexibility and creativity.  Change is a good thing and often it is necessary for both personal growth and the businesses we run.  Flexibility and change can be difficult hurdles for any business or organization, however if we are to keep things fresh and moving forward we need to consider options outside of the box we are currently in and we need to keep pressing against the edge.

Before you take your next action today truly think about why you do it and if there is a reason, or are you just cutting the end off the roast.

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

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52066925@N00/8529802506″>Balsamic pork roast</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;