What are Ergonomic Casters and Why the Aerospace Industry Needs Them?
In simple terms, ergonomics means optimizing the efficiency of a machine and reducing the risk of injury to workers. Similarly, ergonomic casters have been designed for operators in order to use them as efficiently and as safely as possible. They significantly lower the initial, continuous, and turning push/pull force, and make loads easier to move.
In the aerospace industry, logistic activities like lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, and handling are common. These physically strenuous activities put workers at significant risk of suffering workplace injuries. For such activities, equipment with ergonomics casters not only reduces the amount of effort needed to set them off but also requires less force to keep them moving and turning when needed.
The aerospace industry uses some of the toughest and most heavy-duty casters around. This is because they are needed to perform tough tasks which can include moving passenger planes from one point to the other. In these situations, ergonomic casters reduce the operators’ need to exert force and they also offer new braking technology that keeps them firmly in place when the load is not in motion.
Characteristics of Ergonomic Casters
In this section, we will go over some of the characteristics which help make the casters more ergonomic.
1. Greater Wheel Diameter
A wheel with a greater diameter is easier to push. This is because wheels with larger diameter act like bigger levers and this multiplies the pushing/pulling force. This, as a result, makes turning the wheels around their axles easier. This is similar to the way a long spanner makes loosening a nut less demanding than a short spanner.
2. Narrow Wheel Width
A narrow width of the wheel means less of a wheel in contact with the floor. As a result, less force is required to set the wheel rolling. Similarly, lesser surface contact means less friction and scrubbing, resulting in lesser force required to turn and maneuver. Most ergonomic casters are said to have a parabolic wheel face.
A perfect example of such wheels can be Blickle’s Easy Roll Series available at Linco.
3. Hard Tread Material
Generally, hard material is easy to roll. However, as you can guess, this is not the only factor that affects a caster’s ability to roll. Polyurethane is a material mostly used in ergonomic casters. However, the formulation of polyurethane varies greatly and similarly affects the performance of these casters.
4. Longer Swivel Lead
Swivel lead is the distance between the vertical centerline of the caster swivel and the vertical centerline of the wheel. An increased swivel lead makes turns easier and it does this by reducing the force required to start motion. However, a longer swivel lead means a greater turning radius and this restricts the caster’s ability to make 90-degree turns.
5. Sealed Ball Bearings
Ball bearings are important as they aid in making the caster wheel spin freely and they do so by reducing the friction. In casters, we usually see two sets of ball bearings. There is one in the wheel and the other in the swivel section. Bearings in the wheel are there to make it easier to roll and those in the swivel help in turning/maneuvering. For ergonomic casters, you will mostly see sealed ball bearings as they require less energy to start and keep them rolling.
6. Kingpinless Rig
In ergonomic casters, you will usually see kingpinless rigs. In these rigs, plate and wheel are welded together, and are sealed, and have no bolt or nut keeping the caster together. This construction makes a kingpinless caster strong and enables the distribution of load over a greater surface area. These casters are versatile and easier to swivel than their traditional Kingpin counterparts. Moreover, they offer durability, stability, and security making them suitable for heavy-duty applications.
Benefits of Ergonomic Casters for the Aerospace Industry
1. Provide Greater Mobility
Aerospace is a fast-paced industry and for this, you need casters that give you the ability to move things easily. Traditional rigid casters provide limited mobility as they are restricted to only back-and-forth movement. Ergonomic casters, on the other hand, with their large wheel diameter and slimmer wheels are easier to push and turn and with their polyurethane treads are straightforward to swivel and provide quiet gliding.
2. Improve Safety
Rigid casters are difficult to move and this can lead to overexertion by the workers to make them work. However, with ergonomic casters, movements are easier and effortless and this prevents musculoskeletal injuries and improves overall workplace safety.
3. Increase Productivity
The logistics activities in the aerospace industry can’t afford to get stuck and they need a flow to them. Ergonomic casters with their smooth working make moving equipment around easier without being unnecessarily tiring to the workforce. This, in turn, means increased productivity and higher workplace morale.
4. Lower Costs
As said before, the use of ergonomic casters means fewer injuries and accidents to the workforce. This results in lower costs needed to treat such injuries and fewer workers being away due to injuries.
At Linco, we have a large selection of ergonomic casters from leading manufacturers. Check out our aerospace casters to find solutions suited to your needs.