Escalator Step Chain: What You Need to Know
23rd May 2024

An escalator step chain is a critical component that connects the steps of an escalator, which ensures smooth and synchronized movement. 

These chains are designed for durability, safety, and reliability, making them essential for the efficient operation of escalators in public spaces. 

Understanding their construction, benefits, and maintenance can help in optimizing their performance and lifespan. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about escalator step chains.

What is a step chain in an escalator?

A step chain in an escalator is a specialized chain that connects and synchronizes the movement of the individual steps, enabling the continuous and smooth operation of the escalator. 

It is a fundamental component that ensures the steps move at a consistent speed and spacing, providing a safe and comfortable ride for users. 

The step chain is designed to endure heavy loads and constant use, making it crucial for the reliable performance of the escalator.

Benefits and Function of an Escalator Step Chain

Smooth Operation

The primary function of an escalator step chain is to ensure the smooth and synchronized movement of the escalator steps. 

This synchronization is vital for maintaining a steady speed and preventing jerky or uneven movement, which can compromise user safety and comfort.

Durability and Reliability

Escalator step chains are built to be highly durable, and capable of withstanding the constant use and heavy loads typically experienced in high-traffic areas like malls, airports, and metro stations. 

Their robust construction ensures long-term reliability, reducing the need for frequent maintenance and repairs.

Overall Safety

Safety is a paramount concern in the design of escalator step chains. 

They are engineered to provide consistent and reliable performance, minimizing the risk of accidents caused by chain failure. 

Proper maintenance and quality construction contribute to the overall safety of the escalator system.

Escalator Step Chain Construction and Parts

Chain Links

The chain links are the individual components that form the continuous loop of the step chain. 

Made from high-strength steel, these links are designed to handle the tensile forces exerted during the escalator’s operation. 

They provide the necessary flexibility and strength to ensure smooth movement.

Pins and Bushings

Pins and bushings are critical for connecting the chain links and allowing them to pivot as the chain moves around the escalator’s drive and return sprockets. 

These components are typically made from hardened steel to resist wear and reduce friction, ensuring the longevity of the chain.


Rollers facilitate the smooth movement of the chain over the guide tracks and sprockets. 

They reduce friction and wear on the chain links and sprockets, contributing to the efficient operation of the escalator. 

Rollers are often made from durable materials like nylon or steel to withstand constant use.


Sprockets are toothed wheels that engage with the chain links, driving the step chain and ensuring the synchronized movement of the escalator steps. 

Made from high-strength steel, sprockets are designed to handle significant loads and provide precise alignment of the steps.

Guides and Tracks

Guides and tracks direct the movement of the step chain, ensuring it stays in place and operates smoothly. 

These components are typically made from wear-resistant materials and are strategically placed along the escalator’s structure to support the chain’s movement.

What material is the escalator step chain made of?

High-Strength Steel

The primary material used in escalator step chains is high-strength steel, known for its excellent tensile strength and durability. 

This material is essential for withstanding the constant tension and load-bearing requirements of the escalator.

Hardened Steel

Pins, bushings, and sprockets in escalator step chains are often made from hardened steel, which provides enhanced wear resistance and longevity. 

The hardening process improves the material’s durability, making it suitable for high-stress applications.


Nylon is commonly used for rollers due to its low friction properties and wear resistance. 

Nylon rollers reduce the overall friction in the system, contributing to smoother operation and reduced wear on the chain and tracks.

Escalator Step Chain Applications

Commercial Buildings

Escalator step chains are widely used in commercial buildings, such as shopping malls and office complexes, where they facilitate the efficient and safe movement of people between floors.

Public Transportation

In public transportation hubs like airports, train stations, and metro systems, escalator step chains play a crucial role in managing the flow of passengers, ensuring quick and reliable access to different levels.

Retail Stores

Large retail stores use escalator step chains to enhance customer convenience, providing easy access to various store levels and improving the overall shopping experience.

Hotels and Hospitality

Hotels and other hospitality venues utilize escalator step chains to ensure smooth and efficient movement of guests, contributing to a seamless and comfortable stay.

How long do escalator step chains last?

The lifespan of an escalator step chain typically ranges from 10 to 15 years, depending on factors such as usage frequency, maintenance practices, and operating conditions.

Factors Affecting Lifespan

  • Usage Frequency: High-traffic environments may require more frequent maintenance and replacements due to increased wear and tear.
  • Maintenance: Regular inspection and lubrication can significantly extend the lifespan of the step chain by reducing friction and preventing premature wear.
  • Operating Conditions: Harsh conditions, such as exposure to moisture or abrasive materials, can reduce the lifespan of the chain.

Tips for Prolonging Lifespan

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct routine inspections to identify and address wear or damage early.
  • Proper Lubrication: Ensure the chain is adequately lubricated to minimize friction and wear.
  • Avoid Overloading: Do not exceed the escalator’s designed load capacity to prevent undue stress on the chain.

Escalator Chain Manufacturers

Universal Chain is a leading manufacturer of high-quality escalator step chains and other industrial chains. 

With over 30 years of experience, Universal Chain has established a reputation for producing durable and reliable chains that meet the stringent demands of the escalator industry.

Their product range includes chains for various applications, including commercial buildings, public transportation, retail stores, and more. 

Universal Chain’s commitment to innovation and quality ensures that its products provide optimal performance and longevity, making them a trusted choice for escalator manufacturers and maintenance providers worldwide.

Article Sources
The Universal Chain uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Our commitment to accuracy and reliability ensures that readers receive well-researched information they can trust.