Manual Materials Handling Cart Design: How Ergonomics Improves the Bottom Line

In our blog, we’ve talked for awhile now about how ergonomics plays an important role in reducing workplace injuries. But when it comes to transporting heavy loads with material handling carts, having the right cart design and caster selection for the specific application can also create a ripple effect that offers benefits for the business in every aspect of operational efficiency and productivity.

Beyond Injury Avoidance

Overexertion injuries, such as those that involve pushing and pulling, are the costliest for employers. It’s estimated that optimal ergonomic cart design can save employers up to $460 USD per worker per year but reduced injury rates are only one of the benefits that ergonomics provide. A well-designed cart with quality casters makes it easier for the worker to do their job. In fact, a recent study of ten workers conducted by Darcor found that doing a repeated task was so much easier and more efficient with a well-designed cart that over time it was like adding an 11th person to the production line.

Hidden Value of the Caster

While it may be difficult for a company to justify spending more on their cart program, something as small and simple as casters can make a big difference in productivity. Just like the tires on your car, casters are the only point of contact with the surface you’re on. They impact the ease of movement the cart operator has, how quickly they can stop, and how easily they’re able to turn. Carts that are hard to maneuver can slow down productivity and increase the risk of injury to the worker. Type of floor and cart load weight are just two of the key factors that affect caster selection. Simply choosing the right casters can increase operational efficiency by improving operator mobility and decrease production downtime due to less mechanical breakdown resulting from low quality cart components.

The Importance of the Right Caster

Exceeding caster load capacity, environmental conditions, such as high workplace temperature or presence of floor debris, and impact loading, which occurs when a caster hits an obstacle, are just some of the reasons why castors can breakdown. But the most common cause of caster malfunction is that the wrong caster was used in the first place, and the reason for this often comes down to price. One Darcor client that relies exclusively on cart usage was able to justify purchasing high quality casters for their carts by looking at the avoided maintenance costs and the resulting operational slow downs for replacement and fixes. Even one broken cart can have a profound impact on the business by slowing down delivery and putting customer service at risk to the point of losing customers to a competitor.

All Casters are not Created Equal

Choosing the most inexpensive wheel may seem like a good way to reduce costs, but it can end up affecting the company’s bottom line when equipment goes down and productivity comes to a halt. Cheap casters can negatively impact your business and competitiveness. It is much more cost effective to take the long term view and make a better investment up front. You don’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” but you do need the right caster for the job.

If you would like to learn more about how cart design can improve the bottom line in your organization or how to tackle the top for your organization, download our Guide to Designing Manual Materials Carts.