Keeping elevators safe when the earth shakes

22.10.2019

Earthquake-proof structures, personal protection, and functioning infrastructure are the best protection against one of the most terrifying forces in nature.  

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Earthquake-proof elevator features: Guide rails are mounted on reinforced Omega brackets, which in turn are fastened to concrete girders.

Earthquakes can happen everywhere

Earthquakes can be devastating. Heavy damage to buildings and infrastructure, cities left paralyzed, and even loss of life. The earth we live on is rarely quiet, with some areas, such as Indonesia, Japan, the west coast of North and South America or parts of the Middle East, being more active than others.

In Europe, the earth's crust is also anything but stable. The earth may be moving under your feet as you read this, but an earthquake can only be felt on the surface from a magnitude of 4.5. Even at this relatively low level, structural damage can occur, depending on many factors. For example, how close the structure is to the epicentre, the soil structure and, at least equally important, how the structure was designed and built.

The best protection from the devastating consequences of earthquakes is provided by earthquake-proof structures and infrastructure. 

Keeping buildings safe

We can’t stop the earth from moving, but we can make sure that the structures we build can withstand seismic waves: we can make them earthquake-proof.

There are many techniques to help a building survive a quake, and the corresponding structural features, stabilizing a supporting structure and secure secondary components, usually lead to additional costs of about one percent of the value of the building.

The situation is different with existing structures. The statics of the building have to be analyzed and any weak points need to be reinforced: additional walls or beams, steel crosses or adhesive reinforcements ensure that the building is better able to withstand tremors. This usually involves costs of around five percent of the value of the building.

Earthquake safety for elevators

Earthquake-proof construction is also particularly important for elevator systems in buildings. As a Swiss company, work with the most demanding requirements worldwide - for example, in the Torre Reforma in Mexico City or the Wuhan Greenland Center in central China.

Depending on the category of earthquake risk in an area, different safety features are installed, like: guide rails mounted on reinforced Omega brackets, traction sheaves and rope sheaves with jump-off protection, or the counterweight can be secured with an emergency guide. These features help ensure that passengers can leave the elevator unharmed after an earthquake hits.

For earthquake-proof elevators, an emergency guide for the counterweight and a jump-off protection for traction sheaves and rope sheaves are standard safety features.