The Navy's Next Generation Of Weapons Elevators Was Designed Here In Cincinnati

Apr 9, 2018

Cincinnati-based Federal Equipment Company is designing a new kind of elevator for the U.S. Navy using magnets. The military is now testing it on its next aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

For safety and efficiency reasons, the Navy doesn't want cables on its weapons elevators, which carry bombs quickly to the flight deck to be loaded onto planes. Federal Equipment Company President Doug Ridenour says its Advanced Weapons Elevator is 150 percent faster than legacy elevators and has 240 percent more capacity.

President Doug Ridenaur (left) and Engineering Manager Tim Beitz stand in front of a smart interface that notifies sailors when the elevator needs maintenance.
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

Ridenour rode a test elevator inside his company's Riverside location for the program NOVA in 2010.

NOVA and Ridenaur explain how the elevator works:

  • Linear motors are attached to each corner of the elevator
  • Magnets inside each motor interact with electric coils lining the shaft
  • A current pulses through the coils, lifting the magnets and platform
  • Magnets hold the elevator in place

"When we energize the motors, we're moving those permanent magnets up and down inside the (elevator shaft) and the elevator platform is along for the ride," Ridenaur says.

Federal Equipment Company is on River Rd. in Cincinnati and has been working on the new elevator for nearly a decade
Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU

This new generation elevator isn't cheap. It's about double the price of legacy elevators. Plan to eventually see this kind of elevator in skyscrapers and other buildings.