Industrial casters are not all about movement. True – the most important thing a caster does for you is to get what you are moving from Point A to Point B, but what happens when you get to Point B? Usually, you want your caster-borne item to stay there. This is where a brake comes in handy.
You might think that choosing the right type of brake is easy, but selecting the best brake depends on the type of caster you use, and the application where the casters are being used.
Here are some ways in which you can decide which type of caster and brake pair is right for you.
Do You Need to Stop the Casters from Moving?
This might seem like a slight no-brainer. Of course you do not want your casters to be moving all the time. But if you work on a level production floor, then the weight of the item the casters transport is usually sufficient to stop the items from moving. Remember, casters are not designed to turn your items or pieces of equipment into freewheeling carts able to zoom along at incredible speeds. They are simply designed to make the items they are used on easier to transport.
However, if you require higher levels of safety (such as in a medical or food preparation environment) or your items are stored on non-horizontal floors, then you are going to want brakes.
There are two main brake types that will keep your items where they are meant to be. These are friction brakes and tread-lock brakes.
The friction brake sits on the side of the caster and when engaged, presses against the side of the wheel to hold it in place. This type of brake is only really useful for locking your items in place when you want them to stay put.
A tread-lock brake sits above the wheel, and presses down on the actual tread. These types of brakes are useful for slowing the speed of your items, as well as locking them into position. The only negative aspect of a tread-lock brake is that its effectiveness is dependent upon the condition of the caster’s tread. If your casters are worn, then tread-lock brakes will not serve their intended purpose.
Do You Need Your Items to be Easier to Control?
In most applications, having casters to make items easy to transport is their main purpose. However, in some facilities accurate steering is essential. Hazardous environments, or production facilities where space is at a premium usually requires transported items that are easy to control.
Swivel-mounted casters make for the best maneuverability. Casters that are swivel-mounted are free to turn 360 degrees, which means they can be steered in any direction possible. Sometimes this can create maneuverability issues if the condition of the caster deteriorates – everyone at some time faces a similar battle with a non-cooperative shopping cart!
A swivel-mounted caster needs a different type of brake, known as a directional lock brake. This type of brake doesn’t stop the caster, but it does stop the caster from turning in a certain direction.
The purpose of such a brake is clear – when you want free movement of your caster-mounted item, then you can disengage the brake. When you want your caster-mounted item to travel in a specific direction, then you can engage the brake.
Do You Want Complete Control Over Your Caster-Mounted Item?
Sometimes just being able to stop or slow your caster-mounted items isn’t enough. Sometimes having complete directional control over your caster-mounted items isn’t enough. There are occasions when you want complete and utter control, which means you want a brake and caster pairing that enables you to be in command of your equipment at all times.
A total lock brake gives you complete control over your caster-mounted item.
On such occasions you need a total lock brake and caster combination. These are a combination of a directional lock and a friction/tread lock. When you want to steer your item in a specific direction, then you apply the directional aspect of the brake. When you want to make sure your item remains in place, you apply the frictional/tread lock aspect of the brake.
Some Examples of the Best Brake and Caster Lock Combinations
Virtually all of Colson’s casters can be supplied in tandem with a suitable brake. Swivel lock brakes are available as hand-operated models on the Colson 4, 6, 7 and 8 Series, while foot-activated models are available on the 4 series only.
Colson’s hand-operated swivel locks can cope with load capacities of up to 6,000 lbs. When engaged, the swivel lock converts a swivel caster to a rigid one. This allows for better control and steering where necessary.
Foot-activated swivel locks can cope with capacities of up to 1,500 lbs. When you want to engage the lock, you simply step down on the foot pedal to lock a pin into one of four available slots. Each slot is set at 90 degrees in comparison to the two slot positions on either side of it, meaning that the swivel caster can be locked into any one of four directions. This means you do not have to maneuver your caster-mounted item into a specific position before engaging the lock.
Douglas Equipment: Your Selection for Great Breaks for Your Caster
Choosing the right combination of caster and brake is crucial to the productivity of your business and is something that cannot be left to chance. To make certain that you make the best decision for your company, contact the experienced sales support team here at Douglas Equipment. We are on hand to answer all your questions and to present you with the best options for your specific needs. You can call us any time toll free at 1-800-451-0030, or reach out to us through our online contact form. We look for developing a long term relationship with you and your business.