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Focus on Ergonomic Design Improvement

In industrial caster applications that are manually operated, ergonomics is always a major concern. Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability. Proper ergonomic design can relieve stress on the workforce, keeping them healthier while gaining more productivity. The ease of starting a cart, equipped with industrial casters, in motion or the ease of turning a cart is affected by many different aspects of the caster design. This article will describe some of the details that must be taken into account when focus on ergonomic design improvement for an industrial caster.

Wheel Hardness – The harder the material contacting the floor, the easier the caster will roll, which reduces the force required to start and keep the cart in motion. This is because harder materials will have a smaller patch of material in contact with the floor, thus reducing the force required to begin motion. Forged steel and cast iron wheels will roll the easiest; however they are also hardest on the floor and increase noise levels. Softer tire materials such as rubber and polyurethane will require higher forces to start the casters in motion, but they have the added benefits of reducing noise and protecting floors. One can also use a variety of different hardness (durometer) of the polyurethane to minimize floor damage and maximize roll ability (Polyurethane Wheels)

Tire Profile – The shape of the tire can also affect how much force it takes to start the caster in motion. Flat face wheels will require a higher force to start the caster in motion than balloon tread wheels for a common tire material. This again is due to the amount of material in contact with the floor – less material in contact leads to lower forces required for motion. A middle ground is usually a tapered face tire which falls in the middle of the flat and balloon tread contact patches. If a tire is polyurethane or rubber, the tire thickness also can affect ergonomics. Thicker tires will compress more under load and increase the contact patch with the floor. So for a given tire material, a thinner tread wheel will be easier to move.

Swivel Lead– Swivel lead can affect the turning ergonomics of a cart equipped with industrial casters. The longer the swivel lead is, the easier the cart will be to turn. However, increasing the swivel lead can have negative affects as well, such as reducing the load capacity of the caster. It is important to balance the required load capacity of the cart with the ergonomic optimization.

Wheel Diameter– As wheel diameter increases, the rolling resistance of the wheel decreases so larger diameter wheels will be easier to roll than smaller wheels assuming all else equal. Designing the application with the largest wheel possible to minimize the need force to start the cart in motion.
Improving ergonomics is important in the workplace and the correct caster design can be a large factor in the overall ergonomics of a cart. The forces required to move a cart equipped with casters can be reduced by using a harder wheel/tire material, increasing wheel diameter, and using a thinner tire is a rubber or polyurethane tire is used. The ease to turn a cart can be improved by increasing the swivel lead.

As you can sense from the article, there are numerous variables that impact the ergonomic design of the application and all these variable impact the overall function of the cart. The challenge is always about maximizing the functionality of the cart/application while minimizing the ergonomic impact of the cart on the employee. At Caster Concepts, Inc we can help you choose the correct caster configuration to improve ergonomics while maximizing functionality.

At Caster Concepts, Inc. we will work with you to help you find the product that best fits your needs. Caster Concepts, Inc. is an ISO 9001-2008 certified designer and manufacturer of a comprehensive line of industrial casters, ranging from a medium-duty series to a heavy-duty series to meet any application. CCI also manufactures caster wheels to withstand impact, corrosion, temperature extremes and chemicals found in harsh industrial environments. These multi-functional casters and wheels serve a variety of applications in the industrial, automotive, food service, aerospace, material handling and other demanding markets. Learn more about the entire family of Caster Concepts companies – Reaction Industries, LLCThe Machine CenterFabricating Concepts, LLC, and Triple E Manufacturing, by visiting the most comprehensive web site in the caster industry at:

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