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Understanding Elevator Terminology

04/07/2009 by RSMeans Editorial Staff, RSMeans

In this article, a glossary of terms provided by the National Elevator Industry, Inc., is provided.

Glossary of Escalator Terms:*

Alarm Bell — A bell operated by a push button in an elevator car. It is mounted either in a hoistway or adjacent to a landing where it may be heard at any time to call attention to the need for assistance in the elevator.

Car Operating Panel — The assembly of buttons, switches and indicator lights inside the elevator car for operation and control.

Counterweight — Weight connected by the hoist ropes to counterbalance the weight of the car. The counterweight is equal to the weight of the car plus approximately 40 percent of its rated load.

Door Operator — A motor-driven device mounted on the elevator car that opens and closes the car doors.

Door Reopening Device — The device on the automatic door that senses an obstruction, (though contact may occur) and changes the door motion by either stopping it, or causing it to reverse.

Double-Wrap — A common roping arrangement on traction elevators. To increase the traction, the hoist ropes pass around a secondary sheave mounted beneath the main drive sheave and back over the drive sheave again.

Drive Chain Tensioning Device — Controls the correct tension of the drive chain.

Drive Machine — The power unit that applies the energy necessary to raise and lower any elevator, material lift, or dumbwaiter car or to drive an escalator, an inclined lift, or a moving walk.

Drive Sheave — The grooved wheel of a traction-type hoisting machine over which the hoist ropes pass, and by which motion is imparted to the car and counterweight by the hoist ropes.

Drum — The cylinder of a drum type-hoisting machine in which the elevator car hoist ropes and drum counterweight ropes wind and unwind to raise and lower the car and counterweight.

Drum Counterweight — On winding-drum machines, a counterweight which balances part or all of the weight of the elevator car depending on whether or not a car counterweight is used, plus part of the capacity load. Also called a machine counterweight.

Elevator — A hoisting or lowering mechanism, designed to carry passengers or authorized personnel, equipped with a car or platform, which moves in fixed guides and serves two or more landings. On average, an elevator travels 4-5 floors, or 40 feet and carries an average of five people per trip.

Emergency Stop Switch — A device located in the car which, when manually operated, causes the electric power to be removed from the driving-machine motor and brake of an electric elevator or from the electrically operated valves and/or pump motor of a hydraulic elevator. This device is not found in modern passenger elevators.

Emergency Exit — An opening at the top of an elevator for maintenance and emergency personnel. The top-emergency-exit can be opened only from the top of the car.

Elevator Brake — An electromechanical device used to prevent the elevator from moving when the car is at rest and no power is applied to the hoist motor and can stop a fully loaded elevator.

Fault Finder — A display that indicates elevator functions and malfunctions.

Geared Traction Machine — A traction machine in which the power from the motor is transmitted to the drive sheave through reduction gears. A mechanically applied friction brake is part of the machine.

Gearless Traction Machine — A type of elevator hoisting machine on which the hoist ropes pass over a traction drive sheave which is an integral part of the armature. Called gearless because no geared reduction unit is utilized. A mechanically applied friction brake is part of the machine.

Governor — An constant operating speed monitoring and detection device that, at predetermined speeds, provides signals to the controller and imparts a retarding force to activate the car or counterweight safety stopping the moving elevator.

Guide Rails — Steel T-shaped, round, or formed sections with guiding surfaces installed vertically in a hoistway to guide and direct the course of travel of an elevator car and elevator counterweights.

HELP Button — A device, found on modern elevators in place of alarm button, used for emergency communications. When pressed, it shall initiate a call for assistance and establish two-way communications.

Hoist Ropes — The wire used to raise and lower an elevator car.

Hoistway — The opening or path through which the elevator travels. It is also referred to as the shaft.

Hydraulic Elevator — Hydraulic elevators move the car by pumping oil in and out of a steel cylinder, raising or lowering the elevator car. Used in buildings with two to five floors.

Machine-Room-Less (MRL) Elevator — A type of elevator where a separate machine room is not provided. The driving machine is typically located within the hoistway.

Pit — The portion of the hoistway extending from the lowest landing sill to the bottom of the hoistway.

Safety — A mechanical device attached to the elevator car or to the counterweight to stop and hold the car or counterweight under one or more of the following conditions: predetermined overspeed, free fall, or if the suspension ropes slacken.

Terminal Landing — The top and bottom elevator landing.

Traction Elevator — Traction elevators consist of a car and counterweight attached to opposite ends of a hoist rope, which is moved by a traction machine. Used in buildings with more than five floors.

Traction Machine — An electric machine in which the friction between the hoist ropes and the machine sheave is used to move the elevator car.

Travel (Rise) — The vertical distance between the bottom and top terminal landing of an elevator

*Used with permission: The National Elevator Industry, Inc.


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