The Invalifts Dictionary

Lifts come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. Mechanically, designs can vary, and there are further customisable options to help personalise a lift to suit the building it is being installed in.

For these reasons, the lift industry has compiled a wide range of technical terms – some of which are very simple to understand but may appear confusing to someone who has not had them explained in the right context.

To help, Invalifts have put together a useful glossary of platform lift terminology used within the industry.


A form of written language used by the blind or those with limited sight. Raised dots allow the person to interpret words by touch. Concerning platform lifts, Braille can be incorporated into your lift’s design as a customisable feature as part of the push buttons.

Encapsulated Chain Drive System

This system features a chain, driveshaft, motor and gearbox. The motor and gearbox work together at the top of the shaft to turn the driveshaft. This then causes the chains, which are attached, to rotate. Depending on which way the chains are rotated; the push or pull action causes the platform to travel up or down the lift shaft.

For added safety, they chains in this drive system are encased in a highly durable polyurethane plastic making slippages virtually impossible.


The area or space taken up by a particular lift, footprints may vary according to the design, type and function of the lift.

Freight Lift

A lift designed to transport material goods, rather than people.


This safety mechanism is designed to mechanically control speed. It can prevent a lift from travelling at too high a speed when travelling up or down the elevator shaft. Typically, the mechanism consists of a wire rope, which is attached to a safety trip mechanism. In the scenario that a lift were to exceed its pre-set limits, the safety mechanism would be triggered to stop and hold the movement of the driving rope by cutting the power to the drive motor and applying the brakes.


(See lift shaft)

Hydraulic Drive System

This system features a hydraulic ram, hydraulic fluid, a central reservoir and a pump. The pump propels hydraulic fluid from a central reservoir and into the ram. This causes the ram to extend, which in turn, makes the lift to rise. Lowering the lift can be achieved by reversing the process.

Landing Door

The doors that separate the lift user from the lift shaft at each floor level. Such doors come in a range of styles and can open in different manners.

Lift Shaft

The area in which the lift ascends and descends. For passenger lifts; elevator doors prevent people from accessing the shaft when the lift car is not stationary at their floor level.

Machine/Motor Room

Some elevators require a driving machine to operate the lift (typically, platform lifts do not require this feature). The area in which this machinery can be found is often referred to the machine room or motor room.

Passenger Lift

A lift designed to transport people.


This term is used to define the space at the bottom of the lift shaft, below where the cabin would stop at its lowest landing floor. Larger elevators use this area to house some of the components used to operate the lift, such as the piston and the jack hole, along with the base of the elevator rails, and any impact equipment should all other safety measures fail. Thanks to advances in lift design, some modern platform lifts are now, in fact, pitless. This has become an increasingly popular option for those who have to meet strict building regulations or face tricky site conditions. Despite not having a pit, these platform lifts are equally safe due to other safety features incorporated in their design.

RAL Colour

RAL is a European colour matching system. Originally, it was mainly used for the purpose of varnish and powder coating; however, more recently it has also been used for plastics. As the most popular Central European Colour Standard; RAL decided (from 2013) to issue a hologram to verify authenticity.

Screw and Nut Drive System

This system features a steel screw pole, a drive nut and a motor. The steel screw pole runs the entire length of the lift shaft and has a drive nut attached. This drive nut is also attached to a motor, which turns the nut. Depending on which direction the nut rotates, the lift will then move up or down the lift shaft.


Uninterrupted power supply (UPS), is a customisable feature which can be incorporated into your lift’s design. In the event that the building, in which the lift was installed, was to suffer a power-cut, the UPS back up would be triggered, allowing for safe, continued use of the lift.