In modern applications of all kinds, equipment, products and loads are moved around on objects that have casters. A caster, as you probably already know, is an item that consists of a fork or rig and one or more wheels. The wheel is fixed to the fork or rig via an axle, which allows it free rotation. Casters are either fixed or attached to a swivel base to allow for a greater amount of movement. Swivel casters are free to rotate three hundred and sixty degrees.
The right caster for the right load
When you are transporting a load on casters, in order to maximize efficiency, it is important that you match the correct caster to the task at hand. When you need to choose the correct caster, you need to make several assessments. First, you would need to assess whether the load qualifies as light, medium or heavy. You will also need to assess the condition of the floor and the environmental conditions (i.e. whether the caster is likely to be used in conditions that are very hot or very cold). You may also have to consider contributory factors such as ergonomics, maintenance and cleaning.
By identifying the conditions and the applications where your caster will be employed, then you’ll be able to increase both efficiency and safety.
Determining whether your caster load qualifies as light, medium or heavy duty
Probably the most important factor when considering which type or types of caster you need to select for your business applications is the load or capacity that your casters will be required to bear. Select light duty casters for heavy loads and not only will they be inefficient, they will also wear quickly and possibly break.
You need to determine the maximum weight that is likely to be moved – not forgetting the load and the weight of the cart or other object itself. It is much better to work this way – determining the maximum weight that the casters are expected to bear, as opposed to the average weight. If you underestimate the load, then your casters will not be able to roll easily. The last thing you want is for your casters to break during transportation, as that may cause damage to the items that are being transported or even worse, injury to the person pushing the item.
Wheel selection upon calculating load
You know what they say, “The heavier the duty, the larger the wheel.” Larger wheels cope better with heavier loads – they move more easily, and can better handle uneven surfaces and temperature extremes. However, there are two additional factors that you must consider in terms of efficiency when it comes to large wheels. Large wheels are more expensive than smaller wheels, so if your casters are only ever expected to handle medium or light loads, then there is really no point in opting for large wheels just for the sake of it.
The second consideration is height. Large wheels are of course much taller than smaller wheels, so applying large casters to a trolley, or other object will raise its height significantly. If you have smaller obstacles to negotiate, then large casters can become something of a problem. Even if height clearance is not particularly an issue, the higher your trolley, the fewer the number of items you’ll be able to stack upon it and transport. This will of course affect your efficiency, as you have to make a greater number of trips in order to transport the same number of items as you would if you had increased transport capacity via a lower trolley.
For heavy duty needs, you are also going to require casters with hard tread wheels. Wheels with hard tread roll easily on most types of surfaces, and less effort is required to get them rolling.
For medium-to-light duty, you will be fine if you go for wheels with soft treads. Such wheels are also very effective when it comes to rough and uneven surfaces, or surfaces where there is a lot of debris.
Safety considerations when it comes to increasing efficiency
Usually, unless there is some form of automation or motorization, moving equipment directly via casters or indirectly via loads on trolleys equipped by casters is performed by your employees. The whole purpose of using casters is to make loads – whether heavy, medium or light – easier to transport. Making a poor choice when it comes to casters will not only decrease your efficiency, it will also increase the rate at which your workforce becomes fatigued. It will also increase the risk of strains and other injuries, such as torn muscles.
Therefore, not only must you consider the capacity of the items your employees are expected to move on casters, you must also consider their capability of being able to move them. The ‘duty’ performed is not just about the load – someone has to push them, after all!
If you exceed the capacity of the casters you have chosen, then one thing is a given – the loads will be harder to move! The harder a load is to move, the more effort that’s required, especially in getting the load from a stationery position into motion.
Selecting the right casters, or the right range of casters if you have a number of different applications, is important, especially if your desire is to increase your efficiency.
Still unsure about which caster to choose?
If you are unsure about the right type of caster for your application, then please contact our team at Douglas Equipment for help and advice. A member of our customer service team will most definitely be able to point you in the right direction. Just give us a call at 800-451-0030 (or 305-888-3700 if you are based in the Miami area) to speak to one of our team members. If you would prefer, you can contact us using our online contact form that’s available here as well.