Caster science has come up with a solution for almost every possible wheel-bound application. No matter the weight, terrain or cart, the right heavy-duty caster will almost invariably be a long-lasting and easy-to-maintain component of your manufacturing operation.
However, no object is indestructible – and heavy-duty casters are no different. When used in a manner that is not recommended by the industrial caster manufacturer, caster failures can and will happen. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are aware of the environment your heavy-duty caster will be subject to, and that you speak to a knowledgeable representative about your specific application.
In our day, we’ve seen our share of calamities as a result of misuse. The most common causes of industrial caster failure came as a result of:
Excessive Speed: Using your industrial casters at speeds beyond what they are rated for can be a mistake. As speed increases, so do the impact loads imparted on the caster when traveling over expansion joints or other obstructions. Theses increased impact forces can cause brinelling – defined as a permanent deformation — of the swivel section raceways or even damage the wheel or caster legs.
Excessive speed can also lead to premature failure of polyurethane tires due to the extra heat generated from a higher frequency of material deflection. It is very important to understand what speeds the industrial casters will be used at and to consult the factory to make sure the caster design will be appropriate for that application.
Uneven Loading: A major cause of heavy-duty caster failure is uneven loading of carts or tools equipped with casters. Whether caused by the objects on the cart or the inherent cart design, this imbalance will cause one industrial caster to carry a significantly larger proportion of the load. This could lead to premature wear of the heavy-duty caster or even complete caster failure with a magnified impact load. When specifying industrial casters for your application, it is best to try to understand the load distribution on the casters.
Rough Terrain: Using industrial casters on rough terrain can also lead to caster failure. Rough terrain can impart large impact loads on the caster, which can cause brinelling in the swivel section. Rough terrain can also cause polyurethane and other soft tires to chunk out and fail prematurely. When taking casters over rough terrain, it is best to design some sort of shock absorbing capability into the caster.
Excessive Temperatures: Using industrial casters at elevated temperatures (above 100°F) can also be a cause of caster failure. When operating temperatures begin to exceed 100°F, wheel material selection becomes important as softer materials will tend to flat spot or even melt. As temperature continues to increase, grease selection becomes an important factor to application success. If the wrong type of grease is used, it could become liquefied, run away from the areas it is supposed to lubricate and greatly increase the chances of bearing or swivel section failure. When elevated temperatures are a part of your application, it is best to consult with the factory to properly specify an industrial caster for your application.
I hope this has helped you understand the importance of understanding your manufacturing environment and then specifying the right heavy-duty casters for your application. This will help to correctly choose the size and type of heavy-duty caster needed to make your application successful.
Have you subjected your casters to any of these conditions? What was the result?
Design the exact caster for your needs on our Custom Configurator including the options you need, and download a 3D model.