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Quality vs. price considerations in ergonomic industrial casters.

September 12, 2019 By: Bill deMink

Quality vs. price considerations in ergonomic industrial casters.

When manually moving carts on a shop floor, no one would argue that getting the best ergonomic industrial caster wheel is important in reducing overexertion injuries. Of course, there is also no argument that you want to purchase the most efficient caster wheel you can for the best price.

And while there are many factors to consider in the quality vs. price equation, many companies hang their hat on using lower price as their primary selling point.

The problem with this thinking is that the purchase price isn’t always the real cost.

There are many factors that go into the ergonomic efficiency of a heavy-duty industrial caster used to move loads weighing tons. With loads of that magnitude, small variations in performance can mean big problems.

For example, two casters may look the same or very similar.  However, the bearings packed inside the swivel section of a caster may be very different. Bearings are an integral part of a caster, as they are the primary driver of how easily the caster (and the cart) will turn and maneuver.

There are two very common bearing types you’ll find in industrial casters: precision sealed bearings and ball bearings.  The main difference is that precision sealed bearings do not require greasing, so they are maintenance-free.  This means they have a longer use life rating than standard ball bearings. This is an important distinction in terms of the overall cost. While they might cost you more initially, you’ll save money in the long run.

Overall cost comparison

Case in point:
A caster with precision bearings has a list price of $44 and a caster with traditional ball bearings has a list price of $32. We will assume that the market average labor rate is $20 per hour, and that grease costs .50 cents per caster

For the standard ball bearing, if it takes an average of 16 minutes to pull the cart out of service, tip it over, and grease two swivel casters, the average is 8 minutes of maintenance labor per caster. This breaks down as:

Grease: .50 cents per application.  Four times a year. $2.00
Labor: .33 cents per minute. Eight minutes each at four times a year. $10.56
Purchase price:   $32.00
Total:   $44.56

Over an average life span of three years, and adding the additional grease and labor costs for the next two years, the real cost tops out at a total price of $69.68. Although the precision caster had an initial cost that was higher at $44, it was less expensive overall as no additional costs were added/needed.

And with the standard ball bearings, costs related to the time and labor spent monitoring maintenance schedules and purchasing needed maintenance supplies haven’t even been added.

It’s easy to think that casters aren’t all that different and shouldn’t require much thought when it takes time to purchase. Where this may be true with a caster that you are putting on your chair, for industrial carts the reality is quite different.  These casters are designed to carry the entire load and can have great impact on the operator (ergonomics), overall productivity and operating costs. Buying off a spec sheet and online price shopping can be an expensive mistake if you don’t take these factors into consideration.

When determining the best and most cost-effective caster for your application, it’s important to factor in all the variables. A quality caster is going to last longer and perform better to meet your overall needs. If you have questions about choosing the most efficient and cost-effective ergonomic caster for your application, give Caster Concepts a call at 517-680-7950

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