Working in the industrial sector, there is no doubt that you deal with wheeled carts, platform carts, tow lines, and other types of mobile equipment. In many cases, the wheels on these items are caster wheels. Caster wheels are durable and can handle hefty loads on smooth and flat surfaces. But when they are not properly maintained, they can break down fast. This can cause the need for your company to prematurely replace these wheels, creating an unwanted expense. To keep the equipment in your factory working at high efficiency for an extended period of time, it is important that you regularly maintain all the caster wheels, and this is how to do so:
Step 1—Turn the Object on Its Side
Caster wheels are found at the bottom of carts, tows, and other pieces of shop equipment to make it easier to transport products, materials, and machines. Start the maintenance routine by turning the equipment on its side so you can get up close and easily see all the wheels. Make sure you can get a good look at the entire caster wheel assembly.
Step 2—Inspect Wheel Frames and Fasteners
With the object being on its side and all caster wheels in view, inspect all wheel frames. Move in a circular direction until you've looked at each wheel frame. You are looking for cracks in the deck boards, broken welds, distorted framework, unsteady expending applicators, loose bolts, and loose nuts. If you see any of these situations on the casters you are inspecting, then fix the issue immediately. If the repairs cannot be made right then and there, then don't use that piece of equipment until the fixes have been made. If you do keep the object in operation, you will further damage the caster wheels, other components of the object, and possibly the shop's floor.
Step 3—Check the Swivel Assembly
Caster wheels are able to swivel in multiple directions by a simple shift in weight, thanks to the swivel assembly. This moving part often catches hair, lint, and thread, which tangles up and prevents the swivel assembly from turning freely. When the swivel doesn't work properly, the wheels will have flat spots and will cease to operate correctly. Now is the time to cut away any hair, string, or other material that may be wrapped around the swivel.
Once that is done, make sure the swivel is turning freely, is clear of dirt and corrosion, and that the assembly is nice and tight. If there is a king nut bolt, use a wrench to make sure it is on tight. Also make sure all other nuts and bolts are securely fastened. Lastly, verify that there are no bends or cracks in the metal.
Step 4—Look at the Wheels
Now it's time to look at the wheels themselves. Slowly spin each wheel, one at a time, and look for any surface imperfections. You are looking for things like flat spots, cracks, dents, and tread wear. If your caster wheels have rubber tires on them, then replace them if needed. Clean off any dirt or other debris that may have collected on or near the wheels. When equipment with damaged wheels is used, it will shorten the life of all the caster wheels used on that item, cause loads to shift and potentially fall off, create steering problems that will make it hard to maneuver a load, and damage the shop floor. To prevent the buildup of dirt and grime, install thread guards on your caster wheels.
Step 5—Lubricate the Bearings
Use a high-quality, multi-purpose grease that has anti-wear characteristics to lubricate the bearings in the caster wheels. If the temperature gets hot in your shop, make sure the grease you use can withstand those temperatures. Also, add some grease to the leg surfaces, wheel hubs, and every washer on the casters to reduce drag and extend the life of the wheels.
When you follow a set of maintenance tasks regularly to keep your caster wheels in good working order, then you can greatly extend their lifespan. This will reduce company expenses and enhance job performance, since wheeled equipment will be working at optimum levels. For further information about casters, contact a representative from a company like Garland's, Inc.