How Elevator Safety Brakes Work

In 300 B.C., Archimedes, a mathematician from ancient Greece, envisioned elevator-like apparatus. On the other hand, elevators did not become a safe and dependable way of travel for passengers until 1852 with the invention of the elevator safety brake.

Nowadays, safety brake technology has advanced to incredible levels for the demands of super high-rise building safety requirements. They incorporate sophisticated computing, science, materials, and sensor technology.

This article will take a brief look at the inventor of the safety brake, how it works, and its context in our modern age.

So without further adieu, let’s get to it!

The Elevator Safety Brake Inventor

In the year 1852, Elisha Otis invented the Otis elevator safety brake. It changed the way we travel in buildings forever.

Otis’ safety brake, a brilliant piece of engineering, stopped the elevator from plummeting if the hoisting rope failed. If the rope became slack, the safety brake would activate, saving anyone from quite a horrific death.

How Does the Elevator Safety Brake Work?

The original safety brake design was simplistic but highly effective. Otis worked on a mechanism that reacted if the hoist rope of an elevator became slack.

So when the rope became slack, the lack of tension would trigger the safety brake. The safety brake was a big leaf spring that would snap into notches in the rails that supported the elevator on either side of the car.

Modern Elevator Safety Devices

There are two types of safety components in modern elevators: mechanical and electrical. The elevator software systems, sensor, and controller are among the electronic parts.

The controller acts as the system brain. Sensors track safety-related tasks such as elevator speed and location. They also track door lock status and access panel positioning. They also relay the information to the controller. Software systems provide independent validation of sensor systems.

The mechanical aspects of the elevator include:

  • The elevator machine
  • The machine brake
  • The overspeed governor
  • The safety brakes
  • The buffers

We should also mention the suspension cables act as a critical safety device. In fact, engineers design modern elevators with many cables (far more than needed) as a safety precaution.

Modern Friction Brakes

Friction brakes are, in essence, two shoes that exert equal and opposing pressure. They apply this pressure on a pulley, drum, or disc located on the motor shaft of modern elevators.

The brakes are applied to the pulley by springs that are electronically held in place. Then, if any power is lost, the brakes engage in halting the elevator from plummeting to the ground.

To learn more about elevator safety maintenance, check out this link:

Elisha Otis and the Elevator Safety Brake

Without the invention of the elevator safety brake, would we even dare to have high rises? Of course, someone may have solved the problem further down the line. But, think of all the lives that would have been lost in the meantime!

So we’d like to pay homage to Elisha Otis and this invention that makes us all feel a lot safer when we step into an elevator. Thanks for reading this short piece, and be sure to check out our blog.