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Here’s a question I often get asked by customers: Why do I need to use a specific caster for a specific application?”  I like this question because it gives me a chance to learn what the customer is thinking and what they know about the casters he or she is currently using.

A critical aspect of our job is finding the right caster application fit.  I find that customers are not aware of how the right casters can affect so many different aspects of their business, including everything from material flow to safety to much more. That’s why when looking for the right caster,  it’s important to take many different factors into consideration. Let’s take a look:

What do you expect to get out of the casters?

  1. Life span
  2. Maintenance or Maintenance free
    Maintenance-free casters must still be inspected from time to time for safety reasons, but thanks to their precision sealed ball bearings and unparalleled design and quality, they do not require greasing or lubrication. This can save you a great deal of time and drastically reduce downtime.

How are the carts being moved?

  1. By hand or tugger?
  2. If you are moving materials by a hand cart, what is your company’s standard for safety (Push-Pull forces)
    This is where an ergonomic caster could be beneficial. These types of casters reduce the amount of force required to start a load moving. They not only make your employees’ jobs far less physical, but they also reduce the risk of overexertion injury – the single most common workplace injury in the US today.

How far are they going to be moved and how fast will they be pulled if using a tugger or forklift?

Manual or human-driven speeds generally travel slower than 3 mph, thus the force on the caster is much lower. Casters in fully-powered applications endure much greater force because the caster moves much faster. These are all considerations to take into account for higher speeds.

What do you expect to pay for each caster and is where is the built-in value?

    1. What’s the upfront cost of the caster? For example, there are two common bearing types, precision sealed bearings and ball bearings. The main difference is that precision sealed bearings do not require greasing, so they are maintenance-free. Roller bearings are commercial bearings that are used when a low-cost anti-friction bearing is required, they provide excellent load carrying capacity, at an economical cost. This means precision bearings have a longer use life rating than standard ball bearings. An important distinction in terms of the overall cost. While they might cost you more initially, you’ll save money in the long run.

What is more important price or ROI?

A good example of this happened to a large food processor. They were experiencing frequent caster and wheel failure due to moisture, which was causing the bearing to seize in the swivel section which eventually fractured the kingpin. In the end, significant downtime and frequent repair costs became an issue.

Caster Concepts engineered a solution with a sealed swivel bearing to prevent moisture from entering the raceway with a moisture-resistant poly wheel. So, while the initial cost was 3 times greater than the original inferior caster from a competitor, the new caster had a life cycle 5 times greater than the original caster.

With down-time and replacement costs reduced by more than 50% and a 75% decrease in maintenance labor costs, the ROI over a one-year period of time was in excess of 75% for this product.

At the end of the day, the right caster can make life easier for all who are involved in the life cycle of the casters or carts.

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