How to Select the Right Industrial Casters

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Industrial casters are a simple component, but choosing the wrong one can be troublesome.

Industrial casters

Casters, like most day-to-day items, are often overlooked—until they don’t work. From carts to portable gravity conveyor and work stations, there are a lot of components within a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing plant that often utilize them. So if you haven’t replaced a caster in a while, the time is likely coming.

If you’re ready to make a purchase or might need to in the near future, below are some considerations to keep in mind. Industrial casters might be small (in relation to other material handling equipment), but it’s critical you choose the right one for your application and environment.

The Size of Your Industrial Casters

Diameter

The larger the diameter, the easier it is to push or move your object, especially from a standstill. So before you place an order, make sure to measure the diameter of the caster you’re replacing. If that’s not an option, then keep in mind your application. A larger caster will be easier to move, but you don’t want to go so large that your load is too high or the center of gravity is off.

To measure the diameter of your caster, lay it on its side and measure from edge to edge across the center of the wheel.

Width

In most cases, the width of industrial casters impacts its capacity, so the wider the caster, the more weight it can bear. If you are moving machinery or other heavy load, you will want to consider a wider caster. If you load is light, for example a work cart, you can likely select a more narrow caster.

To measure the width of your caster, stand it up and measure from the edge of the wheel to the edge of the wheel (not crossing over the center of the entire caster).

Bearing Type

There are three common bearing types for industrial casters. These include roller, ball, and delrin. Below are some tips on selecting the right bearing for your load and application.

  • Roller bearings: Good for high capacity loads, as the load is distributed across the bearing
  • Ball bearings: Easiest to roll if you’re not looking at higher capacity loads
  • Delrin: Good to use when there is moisture around the caster; not good for high temperature environments

Caster Wheels

There are many options for selecting your type of caster wheel. Have a good understanding of how the caster will be used and the type of environment in which it will be used. Selecting the wrong wheel type often leads to excessive wear and tear, meaning more casters and more money.

Phenolic:

  • Strong (up to 3500 lbs)
  • Similar to steel but won’t tear up your floor
  • Lightweight
  • Okay for higher heat

Steel:

  • Strongest option with highest capacity options
  • Will beat up a floor

Performa rubber:

  • Softer, quieter operation
  • Could “set” if sitting with load for a few days, making it hard to get rolling again
  • Not good in an oily environment

Polyurethane:

  • Won’t set (like Performa)
  • Provides a quiet operation
  • Performs well in oily environments
  • Can roll on most surfaces

Polyolefin:

  • Good for handling chemicals
  • Noisy operation
  • Cheaper alternative (less money)
  • Works okay on carpet and most surfaces

Environment

Temperature Extremes

If you have a high-temperature environment, check the temperature rating for any industrial casters you purchase with rubber, phenolic, or polyurethane wheels. When these materials are subjected to higher temps, they often lose their rigidity, begin to flatten out, and “set” into your floor.

The type of bearing you select is also important in extreme temperatures. If the bearing is not sealed in a high-temp environment, the grease can leak out. This leads to excessive wear on the caster over time.

In similar fashion, check the freezer rating for your caster. You’ll want something that will still easily roll despite the low temperature, and special lubricants may be required.

Clean Rooms

If your industrial casters will be used in a clean room, you’ll want to make sure you select a model without indentations or crevices in which dirt and contaminants can accumulate. The smoother the profile, the better.

Selecting a materials such as chrome will also be easier to clean. Chrome can withstand water and cleaning chemicals, making it very durable in a clean room.

Floor Type

When selecting your casters, take into consideration your flooring. If you have a hard or rough floor, a softer caster wheel will likely perform better, such as rubber, and will provide quieter operation. If you have a smooth or soft floor surface, a hard caster wheel will perform better. However, also keep in mind that harder caster wheels, such as steel, can be rough on your floor and cause damage.

Despite all of today’s material handling automation and technologies, industrial casters remain a key component in most warehouse, distribution center, and manufacturing environments. Save yourself some time and money by selecting the right caster for your application. If you need help making that selection, please contact us. We’re happy to help you sort through the options and make the best choice.

As an Application Engineer for Bastian Solutions, I enjoy helping customers with everything from a request for casters, lift tables or conveyor to discussing the capabilities of our company to implement larger projects. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree from Purdue University and am happy to combine my technical background and my experience speaking with customers to understand their application and solutions needed.

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