An elevator is an efficient way to move people from one floor to another without taking up an excessive amount of floor space. However, nobody likes to stand and wait for an elevator. Escalators move more people more quickly. You can't be trapped on an escalator in a power failure, and escalators don't require emergency power; in the event of a power interruption, you simply walk up or down the stationary escalator as though it were a stairway.

An escalator is a power-driven stairway consisting of steps attached to a continuous circular belt. They move large numbers of people efficiently and comfortably through up to six floors, although they are most efficient for connecting two to three floors, with elevators preferred for rises over three floors. Their decorative design allows users to observe panoramic views.

Escalators require space for floor openings and for circulation around the escalator. In many buildings, escalators and elevators are used together, with the elevators providing transportation for people with mobility problems.

Let's look at the parts of an escalator (Fig. 48-1). A truss (a welded steel frame) supports the escalator and provides space for mechanical equipment. Escalators require support on both ends, and in the middle if the rise is over 5.5 meters (18 ft). The tracks are steel angles that are attached to the truss and that guide the step rollers. The drive system consists of sprocket assemblies, chains, and a machine, and works in a way similar to a bicycle chain drive. Escalator drive machines are efficient up to a 7.6-meter (25-ft) rise, and can be modified up to an 18.3-meter (60-ft) rise with a separate machine room. Machine controls are contained in a control cabinet.

An emergency control button is located at both ends of the escalator. When pressed, it stops the drive machine and applies the brake. A key to start, stop, and reverse the direction of the escalator operates the control switch at the top and bottom newels (the posts supporting the handrails at its ends). The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires elongated newels with a minimum of two horizontal treads before the landing plate, to allow people to adjust before stepping off the escalator.

The handrails are synchronized with tread motion. The balustrades, or side panels of the escalator, may be made of fiberglass, wood, or plastic. Crystal balustrades are made of tempered glass. In addition to the standard straight escalator, special escalator designs include curved escalators.

Escalators are preferred over elevators by storeown- ^ ers, as the customers see merchandise while changing

Figure 48-1 Parts of an escalator:

levels. They are located on the main line of traffic so users can see them readily and identify the escalator's destination. When laying out a retail space, you should avoid blocking the line of sight to the escalator with large displays. Customers should be able to move toward the escalator easily and comfortably.

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