The Technology Behind How a Modern Traction Elevator Works

elevator-shaftThe technology powering today’s modern traction elevators has come a long way since primitive beginnings. It wasn’t until the 1800s and the Industrial Revolution that new production processes into iron and steel completely changed the world of building, and indeed how elevators were constructed to meet the growing needs of skyscrapers. Braking systems made in that century ensured that a fully working elevator capable of transporting freight and people up and down multiple stories would work safely and efficiently.

While primitive lift systems operated by ropes and pulleys, modern passenger and freight elevators required something much more advanced in order to hold the intended weight and allow it to stop and start. Through control mechanisms and safety devices, elevators have certainly come a long way. But how do they operate, exactly?

The technology behind it is complex, as one would imagine. However, the basics are quite simple. Elevators work under a pulley-type system where a metal rope is joined to the top of the elevator car and goes up through a “sheave” in the engine room, says Discovery Kids. It’s this sheave that works like a pulley wheel complete with grooves that grip the metal rope, or cable, tightly. A weight is located on the other side of the rope, equal to the weight of an elevator car half full which provides a balance to the car. This way, not as much energy is required to move it up and down.

Guide rails hold the weight and the elevator car in place at the sides of the elevator shaft. The elevator shaft is basically the tunnel that the elevator travels through between floors. A motor powers the wheel in either direction so the elevator can move up or down depending on the signal, and the weight goes in the opposite direction. Activation of the motor occurs when you push the button for the floor you want while inside the elevator car. When the motor comes to a stop, the pulley wheel’s grooves stop the cable and thus the elevator car.

This is a simplistic version of how elevators work, but in a nutshell, that’s the technology behind it. There are complex safety devices at play as well to ensure the elevator car will not plummet or let go. It’s important to purchase an elevator system that features the latest in safety advances for your peace of mind.

Mowrey Elevators, in business since 1976, is your leading elevator provider across the Southeast, responsible for designing, manufacturing, and installing more than 15,000 elevators for all types of commercial buildings and private residences. Give us a call today at 800-441-4449 to learn more about what we offer, from commercial elevators to residential dumb waiters.