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  • Lift definition
    A lift is a system permanently installed that serves for vertical (or in the direction smaller than 15% from perpendicular) transport of persons or goods in lift cars or on platforms.
  • Basic dimensions

    Lift dimensions
    Headroom: a part of the shaft between the level of the highest stop and the shaft’s ceiling.
    Travel: the length of the cabin’s travel between level of the lowest and the highest stop.
    Pit: a part of the shaft below level of the lowest stop.

    Total shaft height Hs
    Hs = Pit + Travel + Overhead

    Note: dimensions concern the finished stop floors.

  • Rated load.
    It is a load in kg that has been assumed for the drive calculations. The calculative load is the value that has been assumed for strength calculations of key bearing elements and usually it is the weight of maximum number of persons who a lift holds on a lift car defined area. There is a close relation between the load, a maximum number of persons and the area. For example, the load of 630 kg is the number of maximum 8 persons that is limited by the lift cabin area equal to 1,54 m2 (1,1 x 1,4 m). In case of passenger lifts the nominal load is equal to the calculative load whereas in case of goods lifts it is admissible to reduce the nominal load in relation to the calculative one resulting from the lift cabin area. For more information see EN 81-1/-2 standards.

  • Lifts classification depending on drive
    Hydraulic lifts : the lift drive unit is composed of a tank, a hydraulic pump and an electric motor and starts a piston that through a direct ratio of 1:1 or through an indirect one of 1:2 (a rope pulley and ropes) drives the lift cabin.


    Hydraulic lifts

    Lift with a central pistonLift with a lateral piston

    1:1 (with technology GMV SWEDEN ABTM 1:1)

    Hydraulic lifts

    GPL® Goods-passenger lifts GPL® Goods-passenger lifts
    with 2 pistons type ECwith 4 pistons type EC

    1:2 (with indirect roped drive)

    Hydraulic lifts

    Lift with 1 pistonGoods-passenger lifts with 2 pistons

    (solution not recommended by GMV )

    The hydraulic lift’s machine room is not adjacent to the shaft and can be located in a distance from zero to several or even a dozen of meters from the shaft. Most frequently it is a free standing cabinet (so called machinery cabinet) or a separate room (a traditional machine room). There also exist hydraulic lifts without a machine room with a drive situated in the pit.

    Traction lifts : the lift drive unit that is composed of an electric motor and a friction wheel coupled with it, drives the ropes connected with the lift car frame and a counterweight. There is distinguished a direct drive of 1:1 and an indirect one of 2:1 and 4:1 used in traction goods-passenger lifts.

    1:1 2:1

    Traction lifts


    Traction lifts

    Traction goods-passenger lift
    with 4:1 drive

    (solution not recommended by GMV )

  • Essential lift components

    Cabin: a lift unit designed for transportation of persons and/or goods. 
    Shaft: a space in which the lift cabin moves. The space is as a rule housed with pit bottom, walls and ceiling.
    Machine room: a room in which the drive unit (or units) and the connected equipment are situated, e.g. control elements.
    Drive unit: a unit that contains motor that drives a lift. In traction lifts it is so called traction machine and in hydraulic ones it is a set with a motor, pump and valve block.
    T-guides: rigid elements that secure guiding of a car frame and a cabin.
    Car frame: a rigid construction that holds the car and travels in the guides.
    Counterweight: a separately guided mass that partly counterbalances the cabin and secures ropes pressure to a driving pulley.
    Controller: a unit that controls the lift travel.
    Piston: a lift component that uses a working medium for a plane motion. The piston is composed of a cylinder and a ram. There are also single or multistage pistons so called telescopic.

  • Lifts classification depending on application:

    Passenger lifts - serve for transportation of persons.  
    Hospital lifts - are designed for transportation of persons and hospital beds together with medical equipment and personnel. They are characterized by accurate minimum cabin dimensions and door width as well as some functions such as “privileged travel”.  
    Vehicle lifts - are designed for transportation of vehicles. They are characterized by accurate minimum cabin dimensions and door width.  
    Goods-passenger lifts - are designed for transport of goods and persons accompanying the goods.  
    Goods lifts - is a group of lifts without a right to enter for persons. It is obtained by strict restrictions regarding the usage or by reduction of car dimensions (so called “small goods lifts”).

  • Machine room
    Special room - accessible only for the authorized persons - which contains the lift drive unit and equipment related to it, e.g. lift controller.

  • Shaft
    The shaft means the space in which a lift car moves. The shaft has usually a pit, walls and a ceiling. Depending on the lift type, in the shaft can be situated a drive unit, a counterweight and controller.

  • Cabin 
    A lift’s unit serving for safe transportation of persons and/or goods.
    1-opening - a cabin with a single entrance.
    2-opening - a cabin with 2 opposite entrances.
    Angle cabin - a cabin with 2 entrances situated at an angle of 90°.  
    Three-entrance cabin - a cabin with 3 entrances.  

  • Doors  
    Lift doors are divided into landing (shaft) doors and cabin ones. The doors exist in two basic variants: central and telescopic (two or multipanel).

    Central door - during opening / closing, the panels move in opposite directions.

    Telescopic door - during opening / closing, the panels move in the same direction.

    Telescopic door right - during opening the panels move to the right side

    Telescopic door left - during opening the panels move to the left side

    Swing doors - operated manually and are no longer used in newly designed lifts.

  • Standard lifts
    These are lifts of repeatable components and the shaft horizontal dimensions (width x length), and differ only in the number of stops and travel height. Thanks to the above fact, architects have easier task during a shaft designing and the risk of error is reduced.

  • Non-standard lifts TML
    (Tailor Made Lift). These are lifts of unrepeatable features and that is why they are designed individually to a given order. For example, lifts in existing shafts of atypical dimensions, panoramic with glass cars or lifts with 2 entrances to a car at an angle of 90o and even of 3 ones.

  • Lifts designed for new buildings
    The lifts of full dimensions of shaft, pit and headroom.

  • Lifts designed for existing buildings
    Considering the shaft’s existing environment it is admissible to reduce the pit or the headroom, however with use of additional safety devices for lift fitters and maintenance technicians. For more information consult PN-EN 81-21 standard.

  • Lifts for disabled persons
    The building regulations require adaptation of passenger lifts for disabled persons. The basic requirements are minimum car dimensions (width x length) 1,1 m x 1,4 m, the door width of 0,9 m, push buttons marked with the Braille alphabet and voice information. Detailed requirements are defined in PN-EN 81-70 standard.  

  • Other essential lift features:

    Ratio - is a basic parameter of a lift drive unit that enables increasing/decreasing of input speed in order to increase the torque / linear range of a lift operation. The higher ratio is the higher cabin’s sensitivity to instantaneous load. While in passenger lifts it is not so essential because a person entering the cabin is of 75 kg of average, in goods-passenger lifts it is very important. A forklift entering a cabin can load the floor with a force even of several tons and that is why it the hydraulic drives of 1:1 ratio is highly recommended. That means the direct supporting the cabin by pistons in order to obtain exceptionally stable floor during the loading. The hydraulic lifts of 1:2 ratio and traction ones of ratios from 2:1 up to even 4:1 are characterized by considerably worse stability during entering / exiting of passengers and particularly bad during loading with heavy goods.
    Collective function - enables storing of a lift call commands in a memory by users and their execution by picking up the passengers going in the same direction. In multi-family apartment buildings a collective down is used (a lift picks up passengers going to a ground level) while in office buildings a collective up/down is usually applied. During going up a lift picks up successively passengers who want to go to higher floors while when going down it picks up persons who want to go to lower floors.
    Reaction to electricity failure - in case of electricity failure (blackout) a lift should reach a nearest or lowest stop and open doors automatically to free passengers. Unfortunately, most of manufacturers use this solution as an option at high extra charge.
    Operation in group - lifts that are located in a close neighborhood should operate in a group and a call regards one lift – that one which is closer to a calling person.

  • Force on the cabin’s sill Fs

    Force on the cabin’s sill Fs

    The cabin is a moving unit of a lift, which is loaded by persons or goods. The most unfavorable situations occurs at a time when on the sill of empty cabin appears a force Fs. The design of key structure elements should be strong enough to withstand forces and torques (Ts). Standards EN 81-1 and EN 81-2 recommend the use for the calculations the following values depending on the capacity Q:

    Force on the cabin’s sill in lift passenger, hospital etc.

    Lifts with a load of less than 2500 kg (passenger, hospital... etc.)

    Fs = 0,4Q

    For example: the minimum force on cabin's sill for a passenger lift
    Q = 1000 kg equals to Fs = 400 kG.
    Force on the cabin’s sill in lift GPL

    Lifts with a load of equal or greater than 2500 kg (e.g. goods-passenger ones suitable for loading by pallet trucks)

    Fs = 0,6Q
    Force on the cabin’s sill in lift VL

    Vehicle lifts

    Fs = 0,6Q (by GMV)
    Force on the cabin’s sill in lift GPL
    Lifts with a load of equal or greater than 2500 kg (goods-passenger ones suitable for loading by fork-lifts)

    Fs = 0,85Q

    For example, a goods-passenger lift of load Q = 4000 kg suitable for loading by fork-lifts should be characterized by the force on the cabin’s sill not lower than 3400 KG.
    Note: despite above requirements included in the lift standard, many manufacturers are not able to provide lifts with the right force values on the cabin’s sill. One should pay particular attention to it at the stage of selecting the right solution.

  • Comparison of hydraulic lifts with traction ones - advantages/disadvantages

    Feature/function Hydraulic lifts MRL-type traction
    (with power unit in the shaft)
    Shaft The shaft is material-saving with minimum one reinforced concrete wall. Main forces are concentrated on the pit bottom. The shaft dilatation is not required even in apartment buildings. Small dimensions in relation to the car. The shaft is massive, material-consuming, holds (the upper engine room in case of traditional lifts), a drive unit, a counterweight and a car. In case of neighbourhood of apartments, the shaft dilatation is recommended. Big dimensions in relation to the car.
    Construction Simple. Small number of parts - including rotating parts. No counterweight. Low lift weight: 40-60% lower than lifts without engine rooms. Complicated construction. Many parts - including rotating parts: delivery wheels, bearings. Big length of repeatedly bent carrying ropes. The lift high weight in relation to the load.
    Purchase cost Lower by approx. 20-30% for a 2-5 stops lift. Relatively high for lower travel heights.
    Installation / operation Exceptionally quick, safe, uncomplicated and cheap installation. Efficient repair and replacement of components.

     Watch the video

    Complicated installation requiring highly qualified personnel. It is usually 2 times longer than in case of hydraulic lifts. Complicated repair and replacement of main units and ropes.
    Operating costs Low maintenance and spare part costs. High maintenance costs and very high costs of spare parts.
    Speed Usually 0,63 m/s. High, usually 1 m/s and higher.
    Lift durability Long life, approx. 2 times longer. Moderately long.
    Connection of power Approx. 2 times higher. Several kilowatts.
    Electric energy consumption Comparable or lower. A hydraulic lift goes down with switched off main engine. During the lift stop the energy is consumed by the car main lighting. High energy is needed to move the counterweight in case of the car unbalancing (empty or fully loaded). During the lift stop the energy is consumed by a frequency converter (so called inverter) and the car lighting.
    Reaction to power failure
    Load < 2.000 kg
    Travel to the lowest stop by gravity and door opening. A low-capacity battery required e.g. 7Ah. Battery which supports the voltage in the electronic control unit is fully sufficient.

    Load 2.000 – 12.500 kg
    Travel to the lowest stop by gravity is supported by the 7Ah battery. To open large and heavy doors an UPS of 600 - 1000 VA is sufficient.

    Easy release of passengers in case of the emergency power system failure.

    Load < 2.500 kg
    Travel to the nearest stop. Required a UPS device of 1000 - 3000 VA power. Monthly checking of voltage level highly recommended.

    Load 3.000 – 5.000 kg
    Required a battery power station or a motor power generator to move cabin and open door.

    Complicated, difficult and time-consuming release of passengers in case of the emergency power system failure.
    Safety High.
    No massive units above the car.
    The machine room is usually separated, far from the lift working units.

    Medium. Higher risk for personnel during installation, repairs and maintenance. Ground tectonic motions or earthquakes can cause the construction fall down due to the massive elements located in the head room (traction machine or counterweight). Such cases are reported in the seismic areas. A specially protected lift construction is required.
    Noise emission The shaft does not usually contain drive units. Noise is emitted in a closed engine room far from the rooms in which people stay.

    The power unit and control unit situated in the shaft makes the noise emission going easier through the building. It can be particularly bothersome in apartment buildings because not all drive units are silent.
    Ecology Environment friendly. Exceptionally material-saving shafs and the lift low weight as well as small number of parts - means lower energy needed for production. Hydraulic fluid undergoes 100% recycling after 5-10 years of operation.

    The massive shafs and units: a massive traction machine and counterweight, long ropes, many parts - means higher energy needed for production. In drives are frequently used so called permanent magnets that require much energy during raw material exploration and in the production process what has a very negative environmental influence.


  • Noise emission
    Every lift system emits noise during operation. However, use of a suitable lift type, the shaft correct construction and its location can considerably reduce noise emission in a building and inconvenience for the people staying in.
    Hydraulic lifts are characterized by low noise level thanks to the drive unit location (power unit) outside the shaft: in a prefabricated engine room or in a separate room. It is worth to pay attention that the drive works only during going up. Going down is executed by the gravity force with the power unit off.
    Traction MRL-type lifts without a machine room have drive in the shaft. This makes the noise emission going easier through the building. To reduce the noise inconvenience, the lift shafts are separated from the apartments with additional shaft concrete walls (dilatation) or the lifts are located in the central part of a staircase. Both methods waste a building internal space and require an additional energy-consuming heavy concrete construction.

    Hydraulic lifts

    Travel up
    Hydraulic lifts

    Travel down
    Hydraulic lift with typically located power unit.

    Traction lifts

    Travel up / down

    MRL-traction lift without machine room and power unit located inside the shaft.

  • Lift’s weight
    A very important parameter for designers and constructors. Greater weight means robust shaft’s construction and solid foundations as well as it has a bigger negative impact on the environment. 
    Electric lifts can be up to twice heavier than the comparable hydraulic ones.

    Hp = 10 m, 4 stops
    Weight comparison of lifts ready to dispatch from the factory

    Approximate weight in ton


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