The humble wheel gets little notice until it stops working properly. When it catches on the floor cracks, fails to turn smoothly, or makes a rattling noise, we become aware of how much the wheel simplifies our daily lives.
Choosing the right casters for your cart, chair, or equipment will increase your productivity and reduce injuries.
Rigid Versus Swivel Casters
A rigid caster wheel keeps the wheel moving in one direction. They work best for applications where a cart will be pushed in one direction over long distances.
Swivel casters allow the wheel to spin on its axis. These kinds of wheels allow for turns around tight corners. However, they can be difficult to roll in a straight line over a distance.
Many carts will use a combination of swivel and rigid wheels to allow the best of both worlds.
Caster Width and Diameter
When employees push or pull carts, they experience forces on the arms that could lead to injuries. Therefore, carts need to roll easily while still producing enough friction to stay steady when desired. A cart should not go careening down the hallway with a slight bump.
The diameter and width of a caster will determine its stability and ease of travel over uneven surfaces. In general, larger casters will roll more easily, but also can become unstable if they cannot properly support the weight of the object. Wider caster widths provide stability as well as ease in rolling over floor dents.
The materials in caster wheels will interact with the flooring in the facility. Hard wheels can dent and scratch soft floors. In general, you want the wheel material to be softer than the floor. In some situations, such as hospitals, you want to select materials that can be easily cleaned and will not harbor bacteria. Wheel materials will also affect how noisy the caster sounds while in operation.
Locking caster wheels have a brake that can be activated to stop the wheels from rolling. This may be an important safety consideration in settings such as child care facilities or nursing homes where someone could accidentally bump against a cart. Industrial settings with heavy equipment may also consider locks to prevent unintentional movement.
Leveling casters allow you to adjust the height of one side of the cart. This allows the platform to stay level when sitting on an incline.
When choosing the right caster for your application, there are many aspects to consider. A company that specializes in casters can often make recommendations tailored to your situation.