Escalator Terminology Part 1 of 3

In this three part series, we run through all escalator terminology, so when you receive a lift condition report from a lift surveyor, or a new lift design from a lift consultant, you’ll know exactly what we mean. Continue reading to Learn more.


The balustrade is the protective barrier that separates the escalator from the surrounding area. It is made of tempered glass or other transparent materials and is designed to prevent accidents or falls.

Control Panel

An escalator control panel is a device that controls the operation of an escalator. It is typically located at the top or bottom of the escalator and is used by maintenance personnel to start, stop, and adjust the speed of the escalator. The control panel may also include indicators and displays that show the status of various components of the escalator, such as the motor, drive chain, and safety features. In addition, the control panel may have emergency stop buttons or switches that allow the escalator to be shut down quickly in case of an emergency. The control panel is an essential component of the escalator system and is designed to ensure safe and reliable operation of the escalator.


An escalator cleat is a component of the escalator that provides traction for passengers as they step onto and off the moving steps. It is a rubber or metal insert that is attached to the surface of each step, typically in a diagonal pattern. The cleats prevent passengers from slipping or losing their footing, especially when the steps are wet or slippery. The size and shape of the cleats may vary depending on the manufacturer and the application, but they are typically designed to provide a secure grip for passengers while minimizing wear and tear on the escalator’s main track.

Comb plate

An escalator comb plate is a component of an escalator system that serves as a safety device to prevent passengers from getting caught in the gap between the moving steps and the stationary floor. It is a stationary metal plate with teeth or combs that interlock with the moving steps as they pass over it. The comb plate helps to keep the steps properly aligned and prevents objects, such as loose clothing or bags, from getting caught in the gap between the steps and the floor. The comb plate is typically located at the entrance and exit points of the escalator

Deck Board

An escalator deck board, also known as a step board or a tread, is the horizontal surface on which passengers stand as they ride the escalator. It is typically made of durable materials, such as metal or composite materials, and is designed to withstand heavy usage and wear. The deck board is supported by a metal frame and rides on the main track, which provides guidance and support for the moving steps. The deck board may have grooves or ridges on its surface to improve traction and prevent slipping, and may also have sensors or other safety features to detect any abnormalities or obstructions on the escalator.

Drive Chain

An escalator drive chain is a critical component of the escalator’s drive system, responsible for transferring power from the motor to the steps. It is a loop of interlocking metal links that connects the steps of the escalator and is driven by a sprocket wheel connected to the motor gearbox. As the motor rotates, it spins the sprocket wheel, which meshes with the links of the drive chain, causing it to move. The movement of the chain, in turn, drives the steps of the escalator, transporting passengers between floors. Escalator drive chains are typically made of high-strength steel or stainless steel and require regular maintenance and lubrication to ensure smooth and reliable operation. Any signs of wear or damage to the chain should be promptly addressed to prevent escalator downtime and ensure passenger safety.

Drive Roller

An escalator drive roller, also known as a step chain sprocket, is a component of the escalator’s drive system that provides power to the moving steps. It is a toothed wheel that is attached to the drive shaft of the gearbox and meshes with the escalator’s step chain. As the drive roller rotates, it causes the step chain to move, which in turn drives the steps along the main track. The drive roller is typically made of high-strength steel or other durable materials that can withstand the heavy usage and wear of the escalator

Drive Unit

An escalator drive unit, also known as a drive system, is the mechanism that provides power to the escalator and drives the moving steps. It typically consists of a motor, gearbox, drive chain, and sprockets, and is located at the top or bottom of the escalator. The motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy, which is transmitted to the gearbox through the drive chain. The gearbox, in turn, controls the speed and torque of the escalator, ensuring that it operates smoothly and efficiently. The sprockets and drive chain transmit the power from the motor to the steps, causing them to move.


The gearbox is responsible for transferring the power from the motor to the steps. It converts the high-speed rotation of the motor into a slower rotation of the steps.


The handrail is the moving handgrip that runs alongside the steps. The handrail is made of rubber or synthetic material and moves at the same speed as the steps, providing support and stability for passengers.

Escalator Terminology Part 2

Escalator Terminology Part 3

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