Russ Ward

Just the Facts on Modular Elevators

Just the Facts on Modular Elevators. I am old enough to remember the classic TV show Dragnet. Sargent Joe Friday played by Jack Webb and his partner Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) of the Los Angeles Police Department would have a weekly crimefighting adventure.

There were two catch phrases in the show. The first was in the shows open, “The following story is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” And the second and even more famous from Sgt. Friday, “Just the facts ma’am.” In truth the character never really said that at all. He said a much longer version “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” But that aside, “Just the facts.” became as famous as his dry, monotone delivery.

Sometimes we forget the facts are really all we need. Sure I spend some time being creative on the blog and looking for ways for the info to stick, but in reality an elevator purchase needs to be based on facts. This is especially true if the facts are in your favor like in the case of modular elevators and the modular industry as a whole.

So below are just the facts on modular elevators and buildings. Look them over, check out what I am saying and then you can decide if modular is right for your next project.

Define It

First, an important definition. Modular construction is, “A process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in about half the time. The buildings are produced in ‘modules’ that, when put together on site, reflect the identical design intent and specifications of the most sophisticated site-built facility – without compromise.” That is from the Modular Building Institute the leading non-profit trade association serving modular construction.

To boil the definition down, modular construction is a combination of modular units (in our case a modular elevator) that results in just as high a quality (if not more so) that you would find in stick-built or site-built projects. The components are the same or better with the only difference being a modular unit is manufactured with more exacting standards, closer scrutiny and more quality control. Yet it is completed much faster.

Faster Process

The process overall is faster as a factory can produce a unit faster than it can be built from scratch on site, but faster as well due to the time schedule of the entire build.

While prep work is being done the modules are being completed and readied for shipment.

The modular units can be almost any component of a multi-family buildings, hotel, school, office building or medical facility. Are you building an apartment complex? Modular can produce the entire living space including kitchens and bathrooms, common areas and of course elevators.

Do you need a medical office with a lab, exam rooms, office space, waiting areas and even bathrooms? It can all be modular. If you need to have multiple stories, the elevator from MEM is modular too. This process completely takes the elevator off the critical path.

With that said, let’s look at “Just the Facts.”

Facts on Modular Elevators and Buildings

  • Reduces Your Construction Schedule – As stated above, when a project begins with traditional building, prep work stops most other work before it begins. Everything is in place regarding permits and financing, but not much is going on. Modular means the “building” starts immediately with a 20% to 50% faster completion rate.
  • No Weather Delays – Rain, snow, ice and cold are no problem for modular, the units are built inside. When it comes to elevators this is huge because any work below 55 degrees can harm the elevator. Elevator contractors are accused of watching the thermostat more than the time clock. Especially in the Midwest and Northeast entire projects grind to a halt over bad weather.
  • Where is Your Hammer? – Much of a jobsite can be cordoned off for tools and materials with old-fashioned construction. Entire lobbies of multi-family complexes can be off limits during traditional elevator installation. Also, with so many people coming and going it is often easy for “borrowed” items to go missing or for the materials to get raided. That slows everything and everyone down. Modular places the production and responsibility for materials and tools on the manufacturer.
  • Flexible – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that faster modular units are cookie cutter buildings all cut from the same mold. If you can dream it, modular can do it (just faster, safer and smarter).

Reduced Costs

  • Operational Costs – General construction and operational costs are reduced due to the shorter project timeline and less time at the job site overall. That reduces injuries and time off due to those injuries, liability, administrative costs, on-site office space needs, security and some payroll. Shorter construction time also provides for an earlier opening of the new facilities, generating higher and faster rates of return on the investment.
  • Standardization Across Projects – With multiple similar projects there is a reduction of costs in procurement and materials. Purchasing large lots of materials for multiple projects is possible, giving more buying power. There is no need to pay for the same work over and over again. The same plans can easily be duplicated for higher capitol efficiency once a design is complete.
  • Get Out of the Way – Facts of modular elevators and buildings means off site does not interrupt or slow down other trades. We see this in the elevator industry all the time. The elevator crew, in traditional construction can take over the site hampering others. That does not happen with modular.

Safety Benefits

  • Reduced Risk – Fewer Hours – Facts on modular elevators and buildings means a safer environment for your project as there are reduced hours on the work-site. There are fewer onsite OSHA exposure hours and smaller crew sizes.
  • Better Environment for Safety – The factory floor is always level. There is no mud, no wind blowing dirt and grime into worker’s eyes. No ice to slip on. Overhead cranes are used at factories where manual lifting is a common on-site. We all want a safer site. Modular can provide that safety.
  • Test, Improve, Change – Modular is more conducive to testing and making positive process corrections before shipping. Daily, the manufacturer of modular components is looking for safer and faster processes with better ways of building. A process improvement over traditional elevator construction is inserting a finished cab in a hoistway, instead of installing one on site in a cramped dangerous hoistway.
  • No Holes to Fall Through – To over simplify the process, modular fits together like Legos. This reduces the possibility of falls. Every year many are injured at job sites by falls from heights. In traditional elevator construction the hoistway sits for months with open hatches. Modular elevators come with the elevator already installed. That means the doors or hatches don’t open until the elevator is operational. No falls are possible.


  • Reduced Waste 90% reduction of waste materials is achievable! Material waste is significantly reduced as a factory is much more efficient. Waste is reduced as components are ordered as close to used dimensions as possible. Also, when there is waste, it is handled easily and sorted for recycling. Debris is reduced with no unexplained pile of junk littering the site.
  • Enviro-friendly – Less pollution. The bulk of construction is moved to a controlled environment. This means less noise pollution, air pollution and dust. Building materials are protected from the elements, eliminating ruined materials. Smaller field crews also means less travel to and from the job site.
  • Smaller Footprint Less on-site space is required because systems are assembled in factories. Even when considering a staging area, the area needed is often smaller than a conventional construction site and always occupied for a much shorter time.

Higher Quality

  • Higher Quality Inspections – The inspections take place indoors in a factory setting where access is easier. They take place in a closed environment where cold, snow or rain does not keep the inspector from looking at the process and building closely. Modular builders are accustomed to inspectors and they can be easily accommodated.
  • Highly Trained and Experienced Technicians – The workforce in a modular factory is well-trained for the job they are doing. Welders weld, drywallers drywall and carpenters drive nails. They are well-trained in the process and procedure of their unique position. Each job is more specialized than you would find with onsite construction. This leads to consistency of the product.

Just look at the facts on modular elevators in a way that would make Joe Friday proud and see that modular is the best solution for almost any project. But remember that modular elevators do not need to be in a modular only project! Modular elevators offer great benefits to any building project. To check things out more feel free to ask questions and examine the possibilities. The next step is to contact us for more information or for pricing on a modular solution. Just click the button below for a Fast Track budget number.

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