How do current events drive the need for freight elevators with vertical slide doors? All products ride a life cycle, however, developments in on-line shopping, shipping dynamics, and the popularity of city living have breathed new life into the importance of freight elevators.
Who could have imagined that less than a decade ago more shopping would be done on-line than in brick and mortar stores? Amazon passed Walmart as the largest retailer several years ago. There’s no disputing that this trend will increase, but it has also effected the elevator industry. We call mail order catalogs and on-line offers as “junk mail” however the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers that junk mail along with your first class mail and on-line orders. It’s also common that rural deliveries of United Parcel Service (UPS) packages are delivered by the USPS because they visit every home in the US. It wasn’t long ago the there was talk of shuttering USPS locations and reducing house hold mail delivery due to electronic mail and on-line bill pay, but mail order catalogs and package delivery have changed that dynamic. USPS offices are fed by regional postal plants which distribute the mail, these plants move a massive volume of parcels through their plants, that’s made possible by freight elevators. The USPS is undergoing a massive modernization investment to upgrade these plants. Before these parcels are shipped these item are produced and warehoused, they are most likely moved by freight elevators. If you’ve ever seen the inside of an Amazon facility, the designers didn’t include light duty, passenger elevators, they included lifts designed for high volume, palletized loads that offer maximum up-time to ensure on-time order delivery.The Retail shopping industry changes also effect freight elevators but only as it relates to the volume of brick and mortar locations. It’s true that on-line shopping has altered the Retail shopping dynamic, but in markets with pedestrian and/or tourist traffic as well as high-end purchases where shopper prefer to touch and feel their purchase, Retail shopping remains relevant. Other Retailers will survive where shopping and same day pick-up is important, these include IKEA and Walmart/Whole Foods. Some experts feel that only urban retail will survive the on-line shopping paradigm.
Mega Cities are also in the news, as the population ages, there’s a renewed appeal to live in urban centers with access to shopping, healthcare, culture, transportation, etc. A Mega City is defined as an urban center with at least 10 million people, this size city easy to find in Asia but it also applies to a handful of North American cities. Because these Mage Cities have encouraged population to return, manufacturing and distribution centers will also return; having goods closer to the population saves on transportation costs as well as ensures timely order fulfillment and less spoilage. Those who return to the Mega Cities will also need a place to park their vehicles, this renews the need for parking garages. Therefore, Mega Cities will actually increase the need for freight elevators to moves goods and vehicles.
There’s also lots of talk about infrastructure spending. Every new US administration looks for ways to spend tax payer dollars. The current administration has identified the need to improve Infrastructure as a component of global competitiveness. This includes improvements in roads, bridges, dams, the water and sewer systems, railways and subways, airports, and harbors. A number of the infrastructure projects will affect the elevator industry and freight elevators specifically.