What Makes Them Heavy Duty Caster Wheels? - Caster Concepts

Heavy Duty Caster Wheels. What They Are. Which One is Right for You.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines heavy duty as:

  • Designed to do difficult work without breaking (a situation we talk about in this blog)
  • Able or designed to withstand unusual strain

If we were to ask 10 different people how they would qualify heavy duty caster wheels, we would receive 10 different answers. All the answers would be relative to that person’s experiences and environment. Someone who works in an office may think that the casters under a large copier are heavy duty, while a laborer in a production facility would regard the casters on a large trash gondola as heavy duty caster wheels.

All industrial casters are generally regarded as heavy duty casters. Within their own category, industrial casters may also be classified by duty. These ratings consist of standard duty, medium duty, and heavy duty caster wheels. These duty ratings are determined primarily by maximum weight capacities but include factors such as durability and construction.

Factors That Determine Ratings for an Industrial Caster Wheel

While two completely different casters may have the same weight capacity, their construction can classify one as heavy duty while the other as medium duty.  Factors that determine casters ratings include:

  • Material that caster is constructed with, steel is most common, aluminum is also available
  • Size and composition of swivel section raceway
  • Construction of rig (ex: welded legs versus single piece construction)
  • Bearings type and size
  • Wheel Material (steel, iron, aluminum, etc)
  • Wheel Tread Formulation (if the wheel has tread material)

Getting to the Problem of Why Casters Break

“My casters break, my casters don’t work, I have caster issues.” These are statements that Zach Norkey, Caste Concepts National Account Manager, hears all the time. The follow-up question is usually “What do you have to fix my problem?” Where a lot of solutions could be sent your way, not all of them would be helpful. By taking a step back and asking some questions, Zach explains how you can get to the real problem.

Let’s start with “My casters break.”  There are many reasons a caster can break.  Too much weight, going too fast, poor floor conditions, or not maintaining the casters properly. Also, human error plays a part.  It usually involves a fork truck.

Next is “My casters don’t work.” This is where it is important to find out what “works” means, and what you are trying to accomplish.  Is there an ergonomic standard that needs to be met?  Originally, the wrong caster could have been spec’d for the application simply because not enough information was gathered when specifications were determined.

And finally, “I have caster issues.”  What are the issues, and what are these issues causing?  Knowing what they are goes a long way in choosing the right heavy duty caster for your specific challenge. Here are the most common ones:

  • Swivel sections break
  • Poly comes off
  • Hard to move – ergo standards
  • The carts/dolly’s skid around corners
  • They are loud
  • Bearing issues
  • Wheel cores break

Identifying the Issue and Implementing the Solution.

There are many issues and multiple reasons for caster failure.  When you find the cause and effect of those issues, you can then start to find a solution that is best for everyone. And each cause and effect has a different fix. For example:

Ergonomics – With an ergo fix it is important to understand where your current push forces are and where they need to be.  This is where having all the spec info is important.  Knowing the weight of the cart/dolly, the load, and any other factors that may make it hard to push.  There may be times where your caster issue is an ergonomic one.  This may not be discovered until you get deeper into getting all the details.

Durability – Many factors go into durability.  This may start with the statement “my casters break”.  Why do they break?  Understanding the complete application is important.  Knowing exactly what our customer wants the cart or dolly to do is key to figuring out why the current casters are breaking.  It could be they are overloaded.  Too much speed is involved when towing.  They experience side load impact from forklifts.  Once you identify the break issue, you can then start the process of figuring out the correct caster.

The takeaway is to never rush to fix a problem you don’t completely understand.  Prematurely spec’ing in a caster can do more damage than good.