Find out how an elevator is made from start to finish

The process behind how elevators are made is actually fascinating to watch.
Christopher McFadden

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Unless you suffer from claustrophobia, you are probably more than familiar with using an elevator in many high-rise buildings. While most of us never really give them a second thought, the process behind making and installing them is actually pretty interesting. 

Let's follow on a particular elevator taking shape from start to finish. 

making a lift complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 1: Making the car panels

The first step is to source some metal sheeting. These are usually ordered in bulk and stored in the factory's warehouse until needed. 

Once in hand, piles of sheet metal are then transported from the warehouse to the main factory floor using things like forklift trucks. After delivery, the sheets of metal are then loaded by hand into a conveyor belt ready for the first stage of the process. 

making a lift cutter
Source: Interesting Engineering

The metal sheets are then fed into a plasma cutting machine that burns a series of holes through the metal sheets ready to make the elevator car walls. Various pieces are created in this way depending on the form and function of the wall panel in question.

Other required parts like brackets, plates, etc, are also cut from sheets of metal to order using the plasma cutting machine. 

Once complete, the panels are removed from the machine and stored ready for the next step in manufacture. Next, cut panels are placed inside a specialist press machine that bends the metal sheets into angles as required. 

making a lift bending
Source: Interesting Engineering

This is usually performed by human workers. 

Step 2: Assembling the cars

With the main constituent panels of the elevator car now ready, the next step is to begin to put them together. Panels are assembled together as needed through a variety of welding and securing with nuts and bolts. 

This is, in this case, performed by skilled human workers who are well versed in this activity. Throughout the process, panels are checked and measured to ensure they meet the exacting standards for the build.

making a lift assembly
Source: Interesting Engineering

Any defects are either rejected or corrected ad hoc. With the main panels assembled, other parts are then added like brackets, lighting, insulation, wiring, cables, etc, as required. Completed, or partially completed panels are then carried by hand to the main construction area where the lift cars are fully assembled. 

This usually requires a several-man crew to carry, lift, and mount the panels into place as required. Once the main lift car is complete, the heavier elevator door is also brought into position and bolted/mounted to the main car as needed. 

making a lift door
Source: Interesting Engineering

 Step 3: Assembly continues

With that done, lengths of tubular steel are then measured and cut down to size to make the main structural elements of the lift car. Other parts for the main lift rails, etc, like heavier duty brackets, are also cut and bent into shape as needed ready to be installed on the lift cars. 

As before, parts and then welded together as required ready for installation on the main elevator cars. 

making a lift welding
Source: Interesting Engineering

Completed parts, where required, are then hung from hooks and spray washed to remove any grim and other contaminants from the metal. These are then left to dry before being spray-coated with special heavy-duty coatings. 

This coating extends the useable life of the parts and helps prevent them from rusting and degrading over time and use. Once the coating has cured, the parts are then ready to be installed on the main elevator cars. 

making a lift bolts
Source: Interesting Engineering

As before, this is done using a combination of further welding and nuts and bolts. Once construction is complete on these parts, the lift is then ready to install at its intended location.

Step 4: Installing the elevator on site

Once all the parts are prepared in the factory, they are then transported to the site ready for installation. The lift shaft is prepared, rails installed, and lift motor machinery and cabling, among other parts are also connected and mounted as needed. 

With that done, the main elevator car is installed and connected and the final flourishes can be added. Internal decorative paneling, controls, lighting, etc, are all connected up and tested. 

making a lift decorations
Source: Interesting Engineering

Once all that is complete, the lift is now ready to be used by the building occupants. 

If you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how a lift is made, you might enjoy watching another industrial process in the works. How about, for example, finding out how garbage trucks are made

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