11 Common Caster Problems to Look Out For
Casters play a crucial yet underappreciated role in materials handling applications. Casters determine how much weight your cart or chair can handle, and caster failures can be disastrous for worker safety and productivity.
It is crucial to operate in proper conditions to avoid caster problems. Even if your casters come with safety features, they can still sustain damage. So today, the team at Caster Central is here to talk about 11 common caster problems and how to avoid them.
Contact us today to view our specialty caster products if you require industrial casters for material management projects!
Common Caster Problems and How to Avoid Them
Below are some of the most common caster problems we encounter and how to avoid them.
The most common reason for caster failure is exceeding the recommended load capacity. Each type of caster has a recommended maximum weight for its applications. Uneven terrain can mean that weight is not distributed evenly over the four casters, leading to weight overloads.
How to avoid: Be sure to choose weight capacities so that three casters can hold the load. For example, if you have a 1,000-pound load, you should select casters with at least a 333-pound capacity. Also, check the terrain on which you’ll be using the casters for bumps and dips that can shift weight.
Caster design allows them to spin so they can move in all directions. However, a common design flaw is when the caster center and upper ball joint are too far from the rivet and kingpin. The swivel offset could break the caster yoke when a heavy load is applied.
How to avoid: Double-check the swivel offset to ensure it has the right balance between degrees of caster angle and load-bearing capacity. The correct ratio will make loads easier to move without compromising structural integrity.
All casters contain bearings that work to reduce friction between moving components. If you have the wrong bearings for your application, it could cause the casters to fail. For example, using non-tapered bearings for applications that require a high side-thrust could cause premature failure.
Avoiding this: Make sure that bearings are adequate by considering shape, material, and maintenance accessibility.
Most industrial casters can withstand some temperature variance, but excessively high or low temperatures can cause failures and cracks. Soft caster materials such as rubber or polymer can even melt or shatter due to high temperatures from the environment and friction.
How to avoid: When looking for casters, make sure to choose products made with temperature-resistant materials. For example, phenolic resin casters can typically withstand temperatures between -50 and 300-degrees F.
Uneven loading is also a significant cause of caster failure. If the load distribution is not even, then one or two casters may end up taking much more force than other casters, increasing the likelihood they will fail.
How to avoid: When applying loads, make sure you understand both the load distribution of the weight and the casters themselves.
Along with temperature fluctuations, extreme weather and environmental conditions can contribute to caster failure. For example, excessive rain and water can cause rusting and corrosion, negatively affecting performance. Casters can also become clogged with dirt, mud, and other debris.
How to avoid: When choosing casters, make sure that you pick products that have protections, such as corrosion-resistant, high durability, and shock absorption.
Most industrial casters have a specific maximum speed they can withstand. Exceeding that speed can lead to significant failures from friction, wheel hub damage, or bearing damage. Most typical casters have a max speed rating of about three mph (average walking speed), but some have higher speed limits. For example, a towing caster will likely have a higher maximum speed than a caster for manual control when walking.
How to avoid: Double-check the casters' maximum speed rating and ensure it is high enough for your intended application. Also, limit your activity so your speed falls in the required parameters.
The quality of terrain can also lead to caster problems. Rough, uneven, slippery, or sloped terrain can damage wheels, bearings, and axles. In some cases, you won't be able to roll casters over particularly rough terrain.
How to avoid: You can prevent caster problems from rough terrain by choosing elements that have safety features like shock absorbers. You can also prevent problems by avoiding potentially rough terrain during caster applications.
Broken Top Plates
Casters have top plates that connect to the rest of the load-bearing structure. Top plates also protect the wheel and maintain proper wheel direction when in motion. Bumps, acceleration, and weight shifts can cause soft plates to bend and dent, which can cause problems with weight-bearing and maintaining direction. Top plate problems are prevalent if you regularly go over rough terrain with lots of bumps.
How to avoid: You can prevent top plate problems by making sure you are going over smooth terrain and choosing casters with extra-durable plates and ball bearings.
Brinelling occurs when the caster hard cap develops dents due to pressure from ball bearings. Brinelling can create many small indentations, which ultimately affect the structural integrity of the swivel. Brinelling can make it much harder to control carts due to increasing swivel forces. Brinelling can also lead to cracking and mechanical failure.
How to avoid: The best way to prevent brinelling is to avoid any shock impact from rough terrain and choose extra-durable casters. You can also prevent brinelling by periodically rotating casters with spares.
Rivets, or kingpin bolts, connect the caster horn plate and assembly and allow the caster to spin when changing directions. Rivets are the focal point of most thrust and rotating movements, so they experience a lot of force during caster operation. Kingpins will wear over time and fail, making the caster wheels unusable. Rivet failure can also injure materials handlers.
How to avoid: One option to avoid rivet failures is to use a kingpin-less caster. These casters do not have a central rivet and instead distribute weight and force over a wider area. If you use rivet casters, make sure they utilize durable materials such as steel.
How Can Caster Problems Impact My Business?
Consequences from caster problems can severely negatively affect your business’s profits. Injuries to workers from caster failure can lead to expensive insurance claims and decreased productivity. Materials companies require precise coordination with suppliers and distributors, and industrial-strength casters can assist with smooth transportation and delivery of all materials.
Moreover, upgrading to top-quality casters can reduce employee overexertion when moving materials. Experts estimate that employee overexertion costs the average company over $50,000 a year per insurance claim. For a sizable company of a few hundred employees, that can come out to hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance payouts each year.
So it's in your best interest to take proactive steps to avoid caster problems. Choosing suitable casters with requisite durability and safety options drastically reduces the chance of encountering caster problems.
Caster Central offers a wide range of industrial casters for many materials handling applications. Our expertise in caster manufacturing and maintenance can help you choose the right product for your job every time.
If you have questions about common caster problems or would like to learn more about our caster solutions, feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (800) 445-4082 today!