Nearly 120 years after Jess Wilford Reno patented the first working escalator, the equivalent of the world’s population travels on escalators and in elevators at least every other day.
On this day in 1891, the American engineer, Jess Wilford Reno, patented the first working escalator in Coney Island, New York. Nowadays, escalators are everywhere and belong to the daily lives of billions of people.
Legend has it that Reno’s irritation at having to climb 300 steps to reach his fraternity house at Lehigh University was the inspiration for his invention. Whatever the truth of the matter, the fact is that escalators, together with elevators and moving walkways, are nowadays a big part of our lives.
The equivalent of the world’s population travels on escalators and moving walkways, and in elevators at least every other day. Escalators and elevators made the construction of high-rise buildings, underground railways, modern airports and giant shopping malls possible.
Although we cannot do without elevators and escalators, cutting their consumption is important as they account for up to 10 % of the energy used in a commercial building. A number of IEC TCs (Technical Committees) prepare International Standards to ensure systems used in elevators and escalators are energy-efficient and safe to operate.
Elevators and escalators are complex systems that rely entirely on electrical or electronic parts to function. Many IEC technology experts from around the world are involved in the preparation of International Standards that ensure these systems work as efficiently and safely as possible.
A non-exhaustive list of the main technology areas include:
- Switchgear and controlgear, preparing International Standards for these systems as well as for their assemblies, associated control and power equipment
- Electric cables, preparing International Standards for rubber-insulated cables for elevators
- Lamps and related equipment
- Semiconductor devices, for sensors and other systems
- Appliances for air-conditioning for household and similar purposes
That elevator and escalator producers and suppliers mention the IEC in their trade publicity material attests to their belief that IEC International Standards are essential as well as powerful marketing arguments. Here are a few examples:
- “Motors meet requirements of IEC.” (Otis)
- “Excellent features and simple structure with the relevant requirements of IEC Standards.” (Kone)
- “Global switches meet IEC standards for worldwide acceptance.” (Honeywell)
- “Designed to comply with the standard IEC/EN 61508 for safety-related systems.” (ThyssenKrupp)
You can read more about escalators and elevators here.