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What is Swivel Lead and How Does It Impact Caster Performance?

June 25, 2014 By: Bill deMink

What is Swivel Lead and How Does It Impact Caster Performance?

Swivel lead (swivel offset) is the distance from the vertical centerline of the caster swivel section to the vertical centerline of the wheel.

When engineering a heavy duty caster for an industrial application, consideration of the swivel lead is important to achieve the correct and desired performance. Incorrect configuration can cause safety issues and other problems. Lengthening the swivel lead impacts caster performance.

Ergonomics (wheels size and material)
• Increasing swivel lead makes carts easier to turn by reducing the force required to begin motion.
• Increasing swivel lead also leads to a larger turning radius and reduces the ability to make a true 90 degree turn.
• If casters are used in both manual and powered towing application; the correct swivel lead can have a significant impact on the application.

Caster Load Rating
• Increasing the swivel lead beyond the radius of the swivel section diameter reduces the load rating because the moment (force distance) experienced by the swivel section is increasing.
• When designing casters this should be accounted for, as the casters may be easier to swivel but the total load rating can be reduced. There is always a trade-off between maximizing loads, while attempting to maintain the present force required swiveling the caster.

Tracking
• The length of the swivel lead is important in power towing applications. The longer the swivel lead the better the caster will track (follow a consistent track without wandering) the movement of the tugger pulling the cart.
• Reduced caster flutter when the caster begins to shimmy and vibrate during towing – reduces the ability of the cart to track the towing device.
• Correct swivel lead helps eliminate safety issues when carts in a train flutter which could cause injuries if casters fail or items fall off the cart.

Changes in swivel lead can positively or negatively impact caster performance during an application, so it’s critical to design swivel lead properly.

On the upside, swivel lead reduces force required to swivel the caster, and caster flutter. On the downside, changes in swivel lead can reduce carrying capacity and increase caster flutter in powered applications.

If you have an application that needs optimum efficiency consider investing time in the beginning of the process to maximize the benefits of proper swivel lead.

For further information please contact Jackie at customercentral@casterconcepts.com or call 517-680-7950.

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