Escalator Parts

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Escalators are fascinating moving staircases you often see in shopping malls, multi-story buildings, and airports. Depending on the demand and structure of a building, escalators can take various designs. Their flexibility is what makes them very popular. They can be installed on top of one another, side by side, curved, long or short. 

An escalator is made of the following parts:

  • Drive System
  • Steps
  • Handrail
  • Landing Platforms
  • Tracks
  • Truss
  • Balustrade
  • Auto-Lubrication System
  • Braking System
  • Safety Devices
  • Electrical & Control System

Drive System

The upper section of the truss of an elevator contains the escalator’s drive unit. It consists of essential drive system parts such as the drive sprocket, step chain wheels, and the main axis that has a sprocket installed on it.
The drive machine works with the gear reducer to provide the force that drives the step band at a constant speed. This speed is known as “Authorized Nominal Speed”. As the drive sprocket rotates, it leads to the rotation of the main drive shaft and eventually turns the step chain wheels.
The handrail drive system begins at the main axis sprocket of the main drive shaft. A motive force is transferred to the handrail drive chain located at the main axis sprocket which in turn causes the turning of the handrail drive shaft. The handrail drive then propels the handrail along the handrail tracking system by gripping the V-shaped handrail underside.

There are three main components of an escalator drive system:
●The drive machine and gear reducer
●The step drive system
●The handrail drive system

Elevator Motor


Steps on an escalator made solid, one piece, and cast in aluminum or steel. In some cases, rubber mats are fixed to the surface of the stairs to reduce slippage.
There are many components of escalator steps:

Step Plate/Tread
This is the surface of the step that people stand on. It is made of an aluminum plate and has longitudinal cleats that fit the comb plate at the top and bottom of the escalator.

Step Riser
This is the lower or front-facing part of the step. It provides the elevation for the step and has cleats that pass through the adjacent step’s cleats in a combing motion. The interlocking motion is to increase safety.

These are the yellow strips you see at the front and rear part of a step. Their purpose is to show the separation of steps and also aid in safety by indicating the end of a step tread.

It is the main support for the step tread, riser, and step wheels.

Trail Wheels
They guide and support the step load on the track preventing it from moving out of the plane.

Step Hook
This is a safety mechanism that is attached to the end of the yoke by the step wheel. In case the step moves out of the plane, this hook activates the step-up thrust safety device.

Step Chain
The individual steps are all linked together by a continuous metal chain that forms a closed loop. At the front and back of each step, there are two connected wheels. The front wheels are closer together to fit into the narrow front track. On the other hand, the back wheels are set further apart to fit into the wider back of the track.

Step Plate/Tread

Step Chain


The movement of the handrail is made possible by a chain connected to the main drive gear by a series of pulleys. The handrail is installed in four distinct sections.
● The center of the handrail is known as a slider or glider ply that’s made of a layer of cotton or synthetic textile. This layer allows for the smooth movement of the handrail along its track.
● The next layer is called the tension member and is made of either a steel cable or flat steel tape. It serves to provide tension in strength and flexibility to the handrail.
● After the tension member follows the inner construction parts of the handrail. These are made of chemically treated rubber whose purpose is to prevent the layers from separating.
● Lastly, the outer layer of the handrail which acts as a cover. This layer consists of a blend of synthetic polymers and rubbers. The materials selected are meant to be durable by resisting degradation due to environmental factors. It’s also made sturdy to prevent mechanical wear and tear and human vandalism.

Landing Platforms

These are the platforms at the top and bottom of an escalator. They are the surfaces people step on before getting on the escalator or where they alight. The landing platform is made of parts on the surface visible and a section underneath the surface that is vital to the working of an escalator. Let’s break the parts down below:

Floor Plate & Access Covers
This is the section you step on as you get on or off the escalator. The floor plate can either be hinged or made removable to allow access to the machinery underneath it.

Comb Plate
It is similar to the teeth of a comb where the steps mesh before disappearing out of sight. It’s made of a series of cleats that match with the cleats on the steps which interlock to reduce the gap between the star and the landing. This is to prevent any object from getting caught.
Underneath the landing platforms is the curved section of an escalator’s tracks, gears, and motors. The top platform contains the main drive gear while the bottom carries the return step sprockets.

Comb Lights
This is an optional part of the landing platforms meant for safety. It illuminates the area where the steps and comb segments meet. It is typically mounted on the upper and lower landing above the comb segments. A further safety precaution ensures that the light stays on whether or not the escalator is running.

Escalator Comb

Escalator Comb Light


The truss is sort of the vehicle body of an escalator. It is a hollow metal structure that holds the track of the escalator. It forms the structural frame of an escalator and is made up of three sections:

● The upper sections
● The incline section
● The lower section
The incline section of the truss carries the straight section of the track and connects it to the upper and lower sections. The truss is attached to the top and bottom of the landing platforms through concrete or steel supports.

The structure of the truss mainly consists of two side sections joined together with braces that go across the bottom and below the top. It has been designed to carry the entire load of the elevator only shifting within the specified contract requirements.

Despite being made to be rigid enough, the truss still allows vibrations and building shifts. This is because it has a built-in system of shift plates and Teflon pads.

The Tracks

The chain that pulls the steps requires a track to pass through. It’s sort of similar to a railway track for the wheels of the train. A track system is one of the most essential components of an escalator. It serves as a guide to the step chain. The step chain pulls the steps at the bottom of the platform to the top in a continuous loop. The track system works inside the truss.

There are two tracks installed in an escalator:
● Step wheel track – for the front wheels of steps
● Trailer-wheel track – for the back wheel of steps

The position of the tracks is what turns the steps into a staircase as they emerge from the comb plate. On the straight section of the truss, the tracks are their maximum distance apart. This setup turns the back of a step at a 90-degree angle in proportion to the step behind it. This right angle then bends the steps into the shape of a staircase.

In contrast, at the top and bottom of an escalator, the two tracks meet. This forces the front and back wheels of the steps into a straight line. The result is the stairs laying in a flat sheet-like arrangement which allows them to bend and move one after another along the curved section of the track. After the bend of the track at the top and bottom of the escalator, the two tracks separate again, turning the steps into a stairwell. This forms a continuous loop where steps get pulled from the bottom to the top.

Although the tracks are developed within the truss, their assembly is done by bolting rather than welding. This allows for easy removal and replacement.
The track assembly is made of three sections which are;
● Upper
● Incline
● Lower

Electrical & Control System

The electrical and control system of an escalator is the brain of the escalator system. It’s made of a set of electronic devices that control its operation. This includes a controller, a motor, sensors, and safety devices. The sensors send signals to the controller which then sends commands to the motor to control the direction of the escalator of the speed.

Escalator Controller


The Balustrade is located right underneath the handrail and acts as a support. It is the sides of the escalator extending above the steps to the handrail made of glass, panels, and metal. The balustrade is created as either an interior low deck or an interior high deck.
The balustrade also refers to the exterior of an escalator so can include skirt panels, individual interior panels, and deck covers. The interior sections of the balustrade are made to be easily removable individually to allow for maintenance, replacement, and easy cleaning.

The Interior Low Deck
Comprises the interior or side panels that support the handrail base. They are mostly made of glass.

Interior High Deck
This is mainly the side panel mostly made of aluminum or steel alloy sheets. They are also called solid panels.
It comprises many parts such as.

The Skirt Panel
The Skirt forms the interior cover of the balustrade and is located alongside the steps. This is that part of an escalator that has brushes. The Skirt also contains the actuator for the skirt safety switch. The brushes provide passenger safety between the skirt and the side of the steps.

Interior Panel
This is the main part of the balustrade that supports the handrail base. It provides elevation for the handrails on a glass balustrade. It grants access to the various components of the handrail such as driver, sheaves, idlers, and skirt switches in interior high-deck balustrades.

This is the semi-circle-shaped end of the balustrade at the upper and lower landing. It mainly houses switches for on/off, emergency, up/down, and directional indicator lightning.

Auto-Lubrication System

There is an automatic lubrication system in an escalator that provides oil to lubricate the main drive chain, step chain, and handrail drive chains. There is an automatic timer control that can be set “on” and “off” to adjust the oil flow rate.

Braking System

An elevator has a braking system just like any machine that has motion. The braking system uses three methods of braking as shown below:

  • The Machine Brake
  • The Drive Shaft Brake System.
  • The Main Drive Shaft Brake.


The Main Machine Brake
This brake is also referred to as a fail-safe brake. It is a disk mounted within the gear reducer’s extended work input shaft. When the brake is applied, the coil is de-energized which causes the springs inside the assembly to press the armature against the disk which stops the escalator.

The Drive Shaft Brake System
This is also referred to as the Step Chain Locking Device or broken chain device. It is mainly used for maintenance purposes to lock the drive chain system.

The Main Drive Shaft Brake
This brake uses a pawl that’s welded to the end of the main drive shaft. This pawl engages a ratchet wheel with brake linings on both sides. The brake lining wheel is wedged between the handrail first drive sprocket and the step chain sprocket. There is a guide shoe on the opposite end of the main shaft. To engage the brake, the guide shoe is dropped which causes the pawl to move into the ratchet wheel and stops the escalator.

Safety Devices

An escalator has many safety devices that work to automatically stop the escalator. This is done by cutting electrical power to the motor and applying the brake when an issue occurs. After the safety device stops the escalator, it will only restart once the problem has been fixed and the fault cleared.
There you have it, the main components of an escalator. The invention of escalators became very convenient especially since they hardly get too congested compared to elevators. One can also use escalators as stairs even when they are not running. Escalators can also occupy a significantly smaller space when designed well.

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