Wednesday, January 3, 2018

4 Key Factors to Consider When Using a Heavy Duty Caster for Your Material Handling Application.

4 Key Factors to Consider When Using a Heavy Duty Caster for Your Material Handling Application.

Heavy duty casters can provide an amazing benefit in your heavy material handling transporting and moving equipment.  I consider heavy duty casters to be 1,500# capacity to about 40,000# capacity.  However if you do not have the correct caster for moving these heavy items you will have nothing but problems.  Some of the issues you may encounter when using an under rated capacity caster include:  wheel breaking or flattening, bearings busting out of the wheel, caster forks bending and bowing, top plate bending, damaging the floor.  All of these scenarios can cause a catastrophic failure of the casters and cart that you are moving the equipment on resulting in possible damage and injury to operators…. Not to mention the job will not get done.  Therefore, let’s see what factors we need to consider to choose the correct heavy duty caster for moving heavy equipment.  At we list the size of the casters, top plate size, wheel options, and capacity to help you choose the best caster for your heavy duty application.

 (1)  Know the weight of the cart or the items you are installing the heavy duty casters.  Also consider if the weight being transported will be a centralized load or an offset load.  It is very important for most of the weight to be evenly distributed over 3 or 4 casters depending on how many casters you use and the pattern of the casters.  It is a very safe formula to divide the weight you are going to be moving by a factor of 3.  Typically most equipment uses 4 casters in a square or rectangular pattern… If this is the case then divide by 3 and you will get a safe weight capacity per caster needed.  So if your cart and equipment weighs 6,000 lbs.  Then divide 6,000 / 3= 2,000# capacity per caster.  This way you will definitely have enough capacity over 4 casters.  If you have a great floor with no cracks or obstructions and the weight will always be evenly distributed over the 4 casters then you can divide by 4 and be ok.  Caster patterns can be diamond style, rectangular, square, tri-style, rigid in the center and 2 swivel on each end, etc.

(2)  Kingpinless swivel caster versus a swivel caster with a kingpin.  The kingpin in a swivel caster is the bolt that goes through the center of the swivel raceway and is held together with a bradded nut and threaded bolt.  The raceway has ball bearings that go around the king pin in a swivel race and allows the swivel action to flow free.  This is the most common way a swivel caster is manufactured and typically provides great swivel action up to about 1,500#.  When selecting a heavy duty caster with more than 1,500# we typically go to a kingpinless swivel caster.  This means the caster does not have a kingpin.  Instead it has a precision machined and hardened sealed swivel raceway that is larger diameter.  Inside the sealed race is 3/8” or larger ball bearings that withstand heavier shock load and towing.  This gives the swivel action a more robust swivel lead and stronger more durable swivel action when under a heavy load.

(3)  Top Plate Size and fork thickness is another factor in selecting the heavy duty casters.  We have top plate sizes ranging from 4” x 4.5” x ¼” thick, 4.5” x 6.25” x ¼” thick, 5.25” x 7.25” x 3/8” thick, 6.25” x 7.5” x 5/16” thick, 8.5” x 8.5” x ½” thick among other sizes.  The heavier the load then the larger the top plate and thicker the top plate and fork thickness will be.  Make sure you choose the correct top plate and bolt hole spacing for your equipment if you are bolting the casters to the cart or dolly.

(4)  Wheel selection and wheel bearings are another very important factor when selecting heavy duty casters.  The larger the wheel the easier it will be to get started rolling and keep rolling, especially over rough terrain or uneven floors and thresh holds.  Heavy duty casters usually start with a 6” diameter wheel however even a 3” diameter wheel can be used in heavy duty casters when a low profile is needed.  6” x 3” up to 16” – 4” wide wheels are commonly used.  Different types of wheel material is also very important.  Steel wheels and ductile steel and forged steel wheels give you the most carrying capacity but can be rough on floors.  Heavy duty polyurethane on cast iron wheels can give wonderful floor protection and still yield a great capacity.  High impact polymer wheels and Ergolastomer wheels work great in many applications.  We can use standard straight roller bearings in these wheels but the best wheel bearings for heavy duty applications are precision sealed ball bearings, and tapered roller bearings.  The precision ball bearings and tapered roller bearings allow for an easier start and better roll with less force and also will withstand towing.  The larger the wheel the heavier the axle as well.

Let me know if you have an application for heavy duty casters in your industrial or commercial material handling applications.  We can help and we keep the very best in stock!                                  

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