10 Questions to Ask & Answer when Designing a Manual Material Handling Cart with Casters 

1. What is the primary purpose of the cart?

Why the change, why now? Are you trying to …

  • Improve Process
  • Implement a Fork Free Initiative
  • New Ergo goal?
  • Other outside forces at play
    • Increase rate of injury
    • Increased insurance premiums

These are just a handful of reasons why you might be implementing a new cart; determine the main outcome you are looking for and the driving force behind this project.

2. What type of environment will the cart be used in?

Consider the application the cart is required to function in.

  • What about this environment is unique?

Environmental factors can include in and outside of your workplace.

Take some time to look around the area when evaluating the cart you want to design or redesign.

  • What type of flooring is in your area? Concrete? Wood? Ceramic?
  • Integrity of the floor? Are there cracks and gaps? Uneven floorings? Ramps?
  • Do you have debris? This can include nails, screws and bolts, but also dirt, grime or other substances that could be on the floor.

3. What are the performance requirements the cart/caster will need to achieve?

Think of this question as the day in the life of this cart. Consider the following characteristics:

  • How many cycles? (frequency of travel)
  • Obstacles?
    • Docks/Ramp Plates
  •  What types of movement are required?
    • Fine movement for place allocation versus primarily straight linear movements
  •  What is the load & load tolerance?
  • Will the cart be towed?
    • Speed
    • Length of train

4. Where are you planning on putting the load?

Where the load is put, or the load distribution on the cart can cause a huge impact on ease of use. Additionally, improper load placement can cause safety concerns.

There are a handful of characteristics that, if integrated into the design, can reduce risk down the line.

  • Load is off the swivels – The weight supported by the swivel casters affects the amount of force required to turn the loaded cart. Positioning the load’s center of gravity (CoG) closer to the rigid will help with mobility, and tight turns through aisleways.
  • Ensure adequate visibility for your workforce

5. Who are you designing for?

It’s important to consider your workforce and their anthropometry when designing an MMH Cart.

Is the strength required to move, steer, and stop the cart within the strength capabilities of at least 75% of the employees?

When it comes time to evaluate the design of an MMH cart it is integral that the force the push the cart is within safe limits for 75% of the population. Designing with this mindset and lead to:

  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Inclusive Design
  • Compliance with Safety Guidelines
  • Operational Efficiency

What type of workers are you designing the cart for? Very tall? Very Short? Consider their anthropometry. 

  • Anthropometry: body measurements
    • Height
    • Limb Length
    • Stride Length

6. What ergonomic features should be considered?

Some ergonomic design considerations might include:

  • Have you included a handle? If so, what type, what attributions did you consider? If not, do you have an indicated push zone?
    • If a cart handle cannot fit due to your operations, process flow, or workstation design, it is integral to indicate a push zone. This can be done with paint, a sticker, or some tape. The push zone should correlate to the workforce anthropometry. This can help avoid injuries.
  •  Caster Selection:

7. What safety features are necessary?

Again, consider the environment, workplace, and workers. Reflect on the answers to the first few questions. Is there anything unique to the application?

  • Ex. Does the cart need a brake?
    • Not all carts need a brake but in a lot of cases it can make sense to design one in, or at least leave room to integrate a brake later. There are several different types of brakes, all for different purposes. Types of brakes include:
      • Foot brake
      • Central Locking Brake
    • Depending on what the cart’s intended use is, as indicated in Question 1, specialty mechanisms like a swivel lock might be a necessary safety feature.

8. Have you considered a preventative maintenance program (PM)?

Cart maintenance can be frustrating, and time-consuming, and cause process issues if there is not a well-established program.

How much maintenance are you willing to do on the cart? Once every few years? Once a month? Or once a week? A PM can include some or all of the following:

  • Visual inspection
  • Debris inspection
  • Physical Maintenance Check
  • Ergonomic Deep Dive analysis

Some organizations might not choose to do all of the above, or their process might be more extensive. This is something to consider when designing a cart and selecting casters as not all casters will stand the test of time in all environments. Having a cart break down and pulling it off the line can cause slowdowns, making the process inefficient. As such, different types of casters in different environments will require different levels of maintenance. Ensure this will align with your existing PM program.

9. How does the design comply with regulatory standards and best practices?

You have come to the end of the questions and have a wealth of information to start designing or upgrading your MMH Carts. Before you push your design on the line, ensure it falls within regulatory standards and best practices.

  • Have you checked your design with CCOHS?
    • The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has published design parameters for MMH carts as derived from Kodak’s Ergonomic Design for People at Work. These best practices act as design parameters to ensure safety and ergonomics are integrated into the cart. We have developed a summary graphic that notes all the recommended measurements as published by the CCOHS, for your convenience.

Manual Material Handling Cart

10. Have you considered Darcor casters in your design?

When it comes to navigating the challenges of material handling, choosing the right caster can make all the difference. Here’s why Darcor stands out:

  • Innovative Ergonomic Design: Our casters are crafted to embody the Path of Least Resistance™, ensuring smooth and efficient movement across all floor types. This design philosophy reduces effort, minimizes ergonomic strain, and enhances safety in your operations.
  • Exceptional Performance: At Darcor, we don’t just meet expectations; we exceed them. Our focus on advanced technology ensures that every caster offers superior handling and durability.
  • Tailored Solutions: Every industry has unique needs, and our team is skilled in providing solutions tailored to each client’s specific requirements. Whether you need enhanced floor protection, special environmental considerations, or unique load capacities, Darcor has the expertise to deliver.

Experience the Darcor difference today and see why businesses trust us for seamless operational flow and minimal workplace strain. Join our community of satisfied clients who witness everyday how Darcor wheels make a real difference! 
Browse Our Casters

Resources

Boyer, J., Lin, J., & Chang, C. (2013). Description and analysis of hand forces in medicine cart pushing tasks. Applied Ergonomics, 44(1), 48–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2012.04.008

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 30). Anthropometry. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/anthropometry/default.html#:~:text=Anthropometry%20is%20the%20science%20that,%2C%20form%2C%20and%20functional%20capacities.

Chengalur, S. N., Bernard, T. E., Rodgers, S. H., & Eastman Kodak Company. (2004). Kodak’s ergonomic design for people at work. Wiley.

Ciriello, V. M., Snook, S. H., & Hughes, G. J. (1993). Further studies of psychophysically determined maximum acceptable weights and forces. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 35(1), 175–186. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872089303500110

Government of Canada, C. C. for O. H. and S. (2024a, April 9). Pushing and pulling – general. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/push1.html

Government of Canada, C. C. for O. H. and S. (2024b, April 9). Pushing and pulling – handcarts. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/push2.html

Hoozemans, M. J., Kuijer, P. P., Kingma, I., van Dieën, J. H., de Vries, W. H., van der Woude, L. H., Veeger, (H.E.J.), D. J., van der Beek, A. J., & Frings-Dresen, M. H. (2004). Mechanical loading of the low back and shoulders during pushing and pulling activities. Ergonomics, 47(1), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/00140130310001593577

Jung, M.-C., Haight, J. M., & Freivalds, A. (2005). Pushing and pulling carts and two-wheeled hand trucks. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 35(1), 79–89. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2004.08.006

Lin, J.-H., McGorry, R. W., & Chang, C.-C. (2012). Effects of handle orientation and between-handle distance on bi-manual isometric push strength. Applied Ergonomics, 43(4), 664–670. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apergo.2011.10.004

Talapatra, S., Mohsin, N., & Murshed, M. (2019, December 5). An ergonomic approach for designing of an industrial trolley with workers anthropometry. SCIRP. https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation?paperid=97146

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