Simple & Silent Operation

Some people argue that lifts began as simple rope or chain hoists . A lift is essentially a platform that is either pulled or pushed up by a mechanical means. A modern day lift consists of a cab (also called a "cage" or "car") mounted on a platform within an enclosed space called a shaft or sometimes a "hoistway". In the past, lift drive mechanisms were powered by steam and water hydraulic pistons or by hand. In a "traction" lift, cars are pulled up by means of rolling steel ropes over a deeply grooved pulley, commonly called a sheave in the industry. The weight of the car is balanced by a counterweight. Sometimes two lifts always move synchronously in opposite directions, and they are each other's counterweight.

The friction between the ropes and the pulley furnishes the traction which gives this type of lift its name.

Hydraulic lifts use the principles of hydraulics (in the sense of hydraulic power) to pressurize an above ground or in-ground piston to raise and lower the car . Roped hydraulics use a combination of both ropes and hydraulic power to raise and lower cars. Recent innovations include permanent magnet motors, machine room-less rail mounted gearless machines, and microprocessor controls.

Lifts are a candidate for mass customization. There are economies to be made from mass production of the components, but each building comes with its own requirements like different number of floors, dimensions of the well and usage patterns.