Freight or Service Elevator: What’s Right for You?

Many organizations and facilities automatically plan to install a service elevator without giving full thought to their actual needs. While a service elevator provides a functional option without much concern about the aesthetics, it might not be up to the challenge when it comes to the weight you need to transport.

More organizations are finding the freight elevator is better for their needs, a surprising new choice when it comes to elevator trends. Here we look at the difference between the two, and why the freight elevator is making new strides in the elevator installation industry.

What is Driving the Freight Elevator Industry?

First, let’s look at why the demand for freight elevators is on the rise. According to a recent industry study, there are several factors including:

  • Upsurge in demand for hospitals
  • More use in warehouses
  • Increased use in the construction Industry
  • Global increase in skyscrapers
  • Demand in electric freight elevators
  • Use in motor vehicle loadings
  • Advancements in freight elevator technology

The report also looks at the competitive landscape faced by top manufacturers including major players in Japan, the U.S. and Europe.

Main Differences Between Freight and Service Elevators

Simply put, freight elevators are designed to carry major loads ranging from 2,300 to 4,500 kg capacity while service elevators are designed for smaller loads such as office supplies, hospital beds or maintenance trolleys. While service elevators carry supplies and people, freight elevators are designed strictly for transporting goods in hand with the equipment required to load and unload those goods.

What are Freight Elevators?

As mentioned, freight elevators are designed for transporting larger items or heavier loads. They are made to be tough and withstand more damage than a basic passenger or service elevator. They operate in a different way, often using slower speeds and stricter safety features to reduce the risk of accidents. This usually includes features such as steel wall panels and floors as well as reinforced gates. Doors open vertically as opposed to horizontally. They come in five classifications based on their maximum capacity and the process used for loading and unloading the freight:

  • Class A: The General Freight Loading elevator takes distributed loads that are not more than a quarter of the capacity of the elevator. It is loaded and offloaded using on and off the car platforms either manually of with hand trucks.
  • Class B: The Motor Vehicle Loading elevator is strictly used to transport vehicles.
  •  Class C1 The Industrial Truck Loading elevator works with a four-wheeled vehicle to load and unload the freight, but the combined weight of the vehicle and the load can’t go over the elevator’s capacity. This allows the loading vehicle to stay on the elevator when it is operating.
  • Class C2: The Industrial Truck Loading elevator can take on heavier loads, with allowances to a maximum of up to 150% of the rated capacity. This is ideal for forklift loading with freight weighing up to the rated capacity, but the lift truck or forklift can’t be on the elevator when it’s in use.
  • Class C3: For all other Forms of Industrial Truck Loading, this freight elevator is commonly used for one-piece loads with a similar weight to the elevator’s maximum capacity.

The classification is important as it relates to the load size in hand with what is required to load and unload the freight in question.

Best Applications for Freight Elevators

Freight elevators are used where heavy loads are commonly transported. This would include everything from major retailers to car dealerships and manufacturing companies to hospitals. For example, while it might seem a hospital wouldn’t require a freight elevator, the scope and size of equipment used in hospitals must be considered. This is one of the reasons, hospital demand is helping to grow the freight elevator industry.

What is a Service Elevator?

A service elevator is more or less a modified passenger elevator designated for employee use only. For all intents and purposes, it looks and feels like a passenger elevator, without the trim. Its doors open horizontally, and they often are larger to make room for additional items such as trolleys for cleaning staff at a hotel or beds at a hospital. People use the elevators to travel between floors in their day to day operations, while they can also be used to transport smaller loads of goods such as supplies.

They also might be used in apartment buildings to allow people to move their furniture and belongings, or for maintenance staff. Often these elevators are mutli-purpose, but might have more headroom with a higher ceiling. Service elevators make it easy for building operations to take place without disturbing tenants or guests.

Best Applications for Freight Elevators

The service elevator is ideal in buildings that don’t require the transportation of heavy loads. They are commonly found in commercial office spaces, residential buildings, hotels, retail spaces, hospitality spaces like casinos, and hospitals.

While elevator trends show an increase in demand for freight elevators, it does not necessarily mean they make sense for everyone. Your choices are dependent on your needs, while also ensuring you remain compliant with standards and building codes that apply to your industry. Your elevator installer can help you make the right choice for your needs.