Glossary of Elevator Terms

ANSI – American National Standards Institute is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system. ANSI is committed to enhancing the global competitiveness of U.S. business and quality of life by providing a framework for fair standards development and quality conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.

ASME – American Society of Mechanical Engineers. ASME is made up of more than 4,700 volunteers, such as engineers, scientists, government officials and others who contribute their technical expertise to protect public safety while reflecting best business practices.

Automatic Operation – The starting of the elevator car in response to the momentary actuation of operating devices at the landing and/or of operating devices in the car or at a landing. Once the device is actuated the car will stop automatically at the landing and the doors open.

Capacity – The maximum weight that can be accommodated by the elevator.

Car Operating Panel (COP), Car Station – A panel, mounted in the car, containing car operating controls such as call register (floor) pushbuttons, alarm, emergency stop, and any other buttons or keyswitches that may be required for operation.

Car-Top Inspection Station – A control panel on top of an elevator car which, when activated, removes the car from normal service and allows the car to run at inspection speed from the car top station only

Controller – An electrical panel which performs many computer functions by which it operates an elevator.

Counterweight – Added weight on a traction elevator to provide a balance to the car.

Existing Installation – Term used when there is an existing elevator. Usually used when someone is going to replace one elevator with another elevator.

FPM (Feet Per Minute) – The rate the elevator runs.

Final Limit – One of two mechanically operated switches mounted in an elevator hoistway, one at the top and one at the bottom, which if activated by the car, traveling more than a preset distance beyond a terminal landing, cuts off power to the elevator drive motor.

Governor – The governor is a mechanical speed control mechanism. The governor monitors the speed of the car in the down direction by using one rope. If the car travels too fast in the down direction, the governor is tripped and a set of safeties are engaged to stop the car.

Hoistway – The opening (shaft) in which the elevator travels.

Hoistway Door – The door that gives you access to the elevator.

Interlock – A device that provides a physical lock for hoistway door and gives an electrical signal which allows the car to run.

Landing Zone – A zone extending from a point 18” below an elevator to a point 18” above the landing.

Layout Drawing – A scaled mechanical drawing showing dimensioned plan views and elevations of an elevator hoistway and machine room to indicate space conditions, pertinent dimensions, sizes and location of components of the installation.

Leveling –  The movement of an elevator toward the landing sill when it is within the leveling zone. When the word leveling is used, the inference is that the process of attaining a level stop or position (the platform level with the landing sill) is performed completely automatically.

Leveling Zone – The limited distance above or below an elevator or material lift landing within which the leveling device is permitted to cause movement of the car toward the landing.

Load – Capacity rating in pounds which an elevator is designed to safely handle.

Machine Room – The room in which the power machinery for operation of the elevator is located.

Operation – Constant Pressure – Constant Pressure control systems are exactly as they are described. In order for the elevator to move, the button must have pressure maintained throughout operation. Once pressure is removed from the button, the elevator will stop. This type of operation allows the user to stop mid-travel and also change direction prior to arriving at a floor.

Operation – Momentary Pressure or Full Automatic – A simple form of elevator operation that accepts only one call at a time, remembers that call and dispatches the car in the proper direction.

Operation – Selective Collective – This is how most passenger elevators everyone is familiar with works. You press the button for the floor you want to go to, others press the floors they want to go to, and the elevator stops at each floor in order of other ascending or descending order.

Operation – Single Automatic – There is one button for each landing served and one button on each floor served. This performs one function at a time. When the button is pressed for one landing, the elevator will go to that landing and then wait for its next command. (There is no collective function)

Overhead Machine – The power unit which applies the energy necessary to raise and lower an elevator.

Parking – A feature incorporated into the signal system of an elevator or elevators by which and elevator receives a signal to always return to a preselected landing after all its car or landing signals have been answered and canceled.

Pit – The pit provides clearance for the support components that are below the floor of the elevator car allowing the elevator floor to level with the lowest landing floor.

Personnel Elevator – An elevator used to carry trained and authorized personnel only.

Precision Landing TM – The ability to accurately position the elevator car within .8mm at any location throughout the entire hoistway.

Rail – The structural member fastened to the walls of a hoistway to guide the car and counterweight.

Rated Load – The load the elevator is designed to lift at rated speed.

Rated Speed – The elevator speed in the up direction with the rated load in the car.

Seismic Switch – Earthquake safety switches that disable elevators, which may otherwise become unsafe or unstable during an earthquake.

Simplex Operation – Controller operation that involves only one car.

Traction – A method by which an elevator is moved, whereby the elevator is “pulled” up by cables; traction refers to the friction developed between the hoist ropes and drive sheave.

Traction Drive – An electric machine in which the friction between the hoist ropes and the machine sheave is used to move the elevator car with the cable.

Vertical Transportation – Some type of conveyance that allows a passenger or equipment to move up or down.