Russ Ward

Comparing Modular Elevators – Punching Down

There is an old adage especially used in politics to not punch down, especially when it comes to an adversary. You end up making yourself look as small as the competition. I generally stick to that piece of advice. But, then you run into a problem. If the purpose of this blog is to truly educate the public then comparing modular elevators, one company to the others must be done.

Especially when there is such a disparity between the various manufacturers conclusions must be drawn. So I am going to stick with facts as best I can as they are and let you, the consumer draw the conclusions. By the end we will answer the question, who has the best solution for low and mid-rise vertical transportation.

When comparing modular elevators we should have a reasonable and largely unbiased way to make the examination. As stated in a previous post, it really can’t be about the elevator components themselves as they are generally the same in all elevators. We however can compare items manufactured by the companies, the experience that each brings to the table and overall quality.

Items Manufactured – Hoistway

Let’s begin with items that are not bought from another source but manufactured by the modular elevator companies themselves. Those are in general terms the hoistway and the elevator cab. Often the platform and sling are also manufactured and a few ancillary parts such as hydraulic tanks can be produced as well, but for this article’s purposes let’s stick with the two most crucial and identifiable items the hoistway and cab.

At first blush one would think there is little to compare after all modular hoistways are very similar. In most cases tough 4X4 steel tubing is used for the structure and it is wrapped in drywall. Either one layer is used inside and out or to increase the overall fire rating a second layer can be added. But, when you dig deeper a different picture emerges. First, the sheetrock or drywall used is much different company to company. As modular elevators are by design intended to be put in at anytime during the construction process, it is not unusual for the hoistway produced to sit while other construction is going on around the shaft.

That means that in some locations and with no power for climate control, mold and mildew can pop up inside the shaft especially in more humid areas of North America. One company, Modular Elevator Manufacturing (MEM) provides mold resistant drywall inside and out standard. That mitigates this issue. There is no up charge or hidden cost. The pricing and what is provided is clear and part of any cost estimate. Other companies do not provide mold resistant drywall standard inside and out and that can lead to ecological problems you don’t want to face.

Quality design mean quality product

Secondarily, the layout of the hoistway steel is dramatically different one company to the next. Experience has taught the engineers that work with MEM, elevator technicians and high-skilled production workers the value of making improvements to the design. They have been making them methodically over a longer period of time than the competitors as a company. There is no jerry-rigging job to job, but consistent, studied, planned and approved improvements. With MEM your project will never be an experiment in problem solving, but a finished product that has been consistently improved over time.

Due to MEM experience, improvement to the stability and longevity have been built in.

Items Manufactured – Cab

If you thought there is a difference in the hoistway, the real difference shows up in the elevator cab construction. That is because MEM is the only modular elevator company that produces their own Galvaneal cab. Galvaneal is the preferred material for professional construction and commercial quality elevator cabs in most cases. It is tough, durable, sustainable and the industry standard.

However, if cheap and potentially flimsy are your goals you can find companies that make their cabs out of particle board; but watch out! If you have ever owned cheap particle board furniture you know what happens when it gets wet. It tends to mold, swell or crumble (or sometimes all three). You will never have that problem with an MEM cab. Also, if the specs call for a metal cab, MEM is the solution that can meet your needs best. A word of warning, sometimes a bid from a company can contain a wooden cab despite a metal one being called out in the specs. This can be a common deception. Always be clear about what you are getting before you buy.

Avoid wood core.

If the company does not make Galvaneal cabs, they often have to buy a cab from another company and then shoehorn it into the hoistway. This obviously drives up the cost. A secondary issue is that if they are buying a cab from an outside company the cab in question may have trouble fitting properly on the rails creating a poorly moving or loud elevator ride.

See, modular is by design produced in a factory setting with specific jigs and templates. Buying a major component like a cab can be problematic if produced outside of the factory. This is due to the outside cab company not use the same jigs and templates as the modular company. This can create a sometimes sloppy and unacceptable fit.

Experience – The Truth

The need for experience can never be overstated and having neophytes making or selling you an elevator is potentially an enormous mistake. Elevators, need I remind people, are serious. They are costly, have thousands of parts and if they are improperly built they can be dangerous to the riding public. They are the largest and most complex moving object in a building. Knowing next to nothing about elevators, but then selling them anyway is not cute or adorable. It can be a hazard that can cost time, money and potentially cause injuries. But, that is exactly what you can get if you choose to call the wrong modular elevator company for a bid or project.

Feel free to check out MEM. It is more that encouraged because MEM has decades of actual experience from top to bottom in the organization. There are many experienced and licensed professionals that will help you through the buying process to setting and installing.

Do the Homework

If you are doing your homework you know that some modular companies have limited experience in the area of sales and manufacturing elevators. Factually, one modular company routinely touts 20 years of experience, even on their website. Just a little research shows this to not be completely true. The company in question is reported to have produced its first elevator in 2011. That is a far cry from decades of experience, but is representative of the candor you may find when looking for quality you can trust.

But, besides possibly telling tales out of school, what difference does it all that make anyway? In truth a big difference. Over the years, experience has taught MEM to make an easy to use template and supply anchor bolts as part of the package. This makes installing the elevator much easier, faster and within the engineering requirements. Experience:

  • Can give MEM the advantage when gaining state approval.
  • Makes our process easier to navigate.
  • Means help is literally a phone call away.
  • Creates a truly professional atmosphere.
  • Equals quality.

Quality Counts

Quality is sometimes hard to define and long-term in nature regarding elevators, but again experience is the guide. An elevator is a long-term investment in any building project so it only makes sense to use a company and product that has the longest track record of success. As MEM has been around longer and with a real commitment to quality. As a result, it makes sense to consider them first when comparing modular elevators.

One company has such low production values that elevators have shipped with significant quality issues even before they are installed. Hydraulic tank failure, poor attention to detail, wiring issues have all been reported numerous times from independent elevator technicians. And that is the tip of the iceberg, it is completely true that an elevator jack weighing several hundred pounds literally fell out of one of their hoistways when suspended above a building. Crazy, dangerous, true.

Some companies just don’t have the commitment to quality that MEM has. This can been seen regarding missing parts, poorly assembled components, damaged items in production and promises made but not kept.

We fight that kind of inconsistency and complacency in production and delivery so the whole modular industry won’t get a black eye. MEM has developed a check list to track issues before they show up on the job site not after. This way we know we are providing a great product to you before it ships. Truth, not punching down.

Conclusion – MEM the Best Choice

First, we all know that modular elevators are the future because they are the best choice for any low or mid-rise project new or retrofit. They have many advantages over conventional elevators and if you would like a fast review of those you can read more here. But you must be careful and smart when researching which modular company you should deal with. So keep in mind the following and look for a company that:

  1. is the industry leader.
  2. is truthful about length of time in business and experience in the construction and elevator trade.
  3. has the most experienced sales consultants and project managers regarding modular elevators and will answer your questions fairly from a wealth of experience and knowledge.
  4. is in it for the long-haul and will be around as long as the products they sell.
  5. is committed to quality you deserve not headaches you don’t.

In other words look for Modular Elevator Manufacturing (MEM) the overwhelming choice for any low or mid-rise building project. If you want a no obligation assessment and quote just click the link below. It will ask a few questions so we can get started and you can start your path to a true quality commercial elevator.

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