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Healthcare Ergonomics – Caring Enough to Prevent Injury to Those Who Care for Us

Reducing the Risk of Injury to Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers are dedicated providers of care for people in need around the globe. Unfortunately, in the course of their jobs, they are exposed to a variety of risks and hazards ranging from hazardous materials to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare worker injuries are a serious issue to be addressed.

…employees in nursing and personal care facilities suffer over 200,000 work-related injuries and illnesses a year. Many of these are serious injuries. More than half require time away from work. Worker’s compensation costs for the industry now amount to nearly $1 billion per year. Workers in nursing homes are 2x as likely as other workers to be injured on the job.

United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Given their commitment to the well-being of their patients, it’s all that more important that they are provided with protection from injuries. While not all injuries are unavoidable, there are methods of reducing risk of injury to these valuable healthcare providers.

Healthcare Ergonomics Best Practices and Resources

Patient hospital bed moved by medical staff to operating room. Surgeons pushing patient on bed into surgery. Medical team moving old patient on gurney through hospital corridor for an urgent operation.

Ergonomics means designing tasks and equipment to fit the worker to reduce risk of injury. Health care facilities are prone, due to the nature of the work, to have ergonomic stressors impacting their staff. Employee injuries lead to increased costs, higher turnover rate, increased sick days, and short staffing.

Nursing Homes Ergonomics

Many patients in nursing homes are reliant on health care providers for basic day-to-day activities including dressing, bathing, and toileting. These types of activities put physical strain on healthcare workers – multiple times a day, as they require lifting and transferring patients safely.

To help avoid healthcare worker injuries, employers should ensure:

  • Workplace analysis to identify and correct workplace hazard and exposure to ergonomic stressors.
  • Injury recording and analysis to identify injury patterns, allowing visibility to correct unforeseen risks.
  • Hazard prevention and control including administrative and engineering controls. Administrative controls ensure adequate staffing and assessment of needs. Engineering controls cover design, training and use of tools and equipment to reduce injuries to healthcare providers, e.g. equipment used to lift patients.
  • Training programs to ensure continual education is in place and performed by a qualified trainer. Successful training programs confirm that both new and existing employees are up-to-date on ergonomic risks in the workplace.

Lifting guidelines are particularly relevant for healthcare workers in a nursing home environment. The United States Department of Labor – Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides the following lifting guidelines:

  • Never transfer patients/residents when off balance.
  • Lift loads close to the body.
  • Never lift alone, particularly fallen patients/residents, use team lifts or use mechanical assistance.
  • Limit the number of allowed lifts per worker per day.
  • Avoid heavy lifting especially with spine rotated.
  • Training in when and how to use mechanical assistance.

OSHA also offers recommendations around Patient Handling Programs and Patient Handling Controls.

Laboratory Ergonomics

Laboratories lend themselves towards ergonomic risks due to their focus on efficiency which can distract from safe working practices. There are many resources created by UCLA Ergonomics that offer best practices for healthcare ergonomics in a laboratory setting:

Healthcare Ergonomics – Cornell University Resources

Healthcare ergonomics is a critical issue. Cornell University Ergonomics has focused several studies and project in this area of ergonomics including:

Healthcare Ergonomics – Pushing/Pulling Medical Equipment

darcor workplace ergonomics guide

Most healthcare environments possess many large, heavy equipment. This medical equipment must be mobile, so it can be moved where needed across the healthcare facility. Additionally, medical equipment must frequently be maneuvered quickly and safely in a variety of environments (wet, hazardous materials, over cords, etc.). Finally, noise considerations must be taken into account as patients require rest and cannot be bombarded by noisy equipment constantly being moved around. That’s a tall order for medical equipment designers.

Darcor wrote an article entitled, Blueprint to Design Medical Equipment with Operators in Mind, to assist medical equipment designers to achieve improved design and mobility of medical equipment and carts; it outlines 4 best practices:

  1. Low push/pull force
  2. Noise Reduction
  3. Reduced Shock and Impact Loading
  4. Adjustable Height

economics of ergonomics guide cover manual material handling

Other companies and organizations are also focusing on this area, providing resources to focus on improvements to reduce risk of injuries:

Clearly there are many areas of healthcare ergonomics that can be improved to help minimize risk to dedicated healthcare providers. Of course, all workers deserve protection, but our healthcare workers are caring and critical to our society’s well-being and should be cared for accordingly.

If you are interested in ways to reduce workplace injuries and explore budget considerations for proactive ergonomic programs, download these ergonomics guides:

This blog was originally published in July 2018.

Darcor Attending the Applied Ergonomics Conference 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky

Updated March 12: The Applied Ergonomics Conference 2020 has been postponed and will be rescheduling dates for later in the year. For more information visit their website here.

We are excited to be exhibiting at the AEC again this year!

The 23rd annual Applied Ergonomics Conference (AEC) 2020 is coming up fast. The AEC is being held March 16 – 19, 2020 at the Kentucky International Convention Centre in Louisville.

AES, the Applied Ergonomics Society, supports the Annual Applied Ergonomics Conference and Expo, a conference where attendees gather from around the world to share best practices with other professionals in ergonomics, healthcare, safety, human resources and risk management. AES is a society within IISE, an international, nonprofit association that provides leadership for the application, education, training, research, and development of industrial engineers, human factors/ergonomics professionals, healthcare providers and related professions.

This year Simon Houlton, Lui Dilauro and Octavian Sioldea from the Darcor Team will be exhibiting at Booth 406. As proud experts in ergonomics, there are a variety of master track and roundtable sessions that our team will be attending. Here are a couple of sessions you shouldn’t miss:

Keynote Presentation

“Trust and Adaptation to New Workplace Technology”

Dr. John D. Lee is the Emerson Electric Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory. He investigates the issues of human-automation interaction, particularly trust in automation. John has investigated these issues of trust in domains that include UAVs, maritime operations, highly automated vehicles, and process control. His work also involves assessing novel interface and interaction methods to enhance trust calibration, as well as novel statistical approaches to assess trust and user state estimation.

Presenter: John D. Lee, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 – 9:45 AM to 10:45 AM

Concurrent Session

Profitability: How Ergonomics Can Impact ROI in the Construction Industry

The cost of doing business requires employers to examine productivity and efficiencies. The Motion is Money process integrates principles of ergonomics with the concepts of lean construction. The focus of the presentation deals with increasing productivity, enhancing workers efficiency, improving bottom line profitability, and reducing jobsite exposures. The Motion is Money methodology examines how walking, bending, reaching, lifting, lowering and carrying are overlooked and never seen on a jobsite. These movements cost time and money and no one measures these movements. We will discuss how to measure these activities and success stories of reducing labor hours and the cost of completing job tasks and the overall project.

Presenter: Brian Roberts, CNA

Thursday, March 19, 2020 – 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM

Can’t wait to see you at AEC 2020! Don’t forget to visit us at Booth 406 during Exhibit Hall hours.

The Applied Ergonomics Conference and Expo is a great place to gather new ideas and new ways to address your most challenging issues directly from leaders of the industry. Get a head start by downloading Darcor’s most popular Guide to Workplace Ergonomics.

The Guide to Workplace Ergonomics covers a variety of areas that all organizations should be familiar with to ensure employee health and safety including:

  • Workplace ergonomics and impact on business performance: productivity, health & safety, and costs & consequences
  • Avoidable workplace risks for pushing and pulling tasks
  • Ergonomics of safe pushing and pulling
  • Factors to designing safer pushing and pulling tasks
  • How to choose the right caster to reduce workplace injuries

Download the Guide here.

Our team will be ready March 16 to 19 in Louisville, Kentucky at Booth 406 to answer all of your unique caster and ergonomics questions.

Lowering Turning Forces Turns into Partnership with Electro Kinetic Technologies

Case Study: Casters made ergonomically test and perform better than others

Ray Erbe, President and Senior Engineer of Electro Kinetic Technologies, sat down with Yohann Printer, Ergonomics Engineer at Darcor, to discuss their journey and success with Darcor Casters and Wheels. 

About Electro Kinetic Technologies:

Electro Kinetic Technologies, a longtime client of Darcor’s, designs and manufactures motorized solutions to transport and lift heavy loads from 50 to 40,000 lbs. This company has been in business for nine years and operates in three main segments; retail, healthcare, and material handling. In the retail segment they focus on motorized shoppers for customers, and in the healthcare industry their focus is on patient handling, motorized transport chairs, medical carts, and OEM bed movers. They serve a broad range of industries in the material handling segment including automotive, pulp and paper, food, O&G, etc.

According to Electro Kinetic Technologies, any industry where they are moving or lifting materials or products are an ideal target customer for them. They carry a wide range of standard products, such as platform carts, tuggers, scissor lifts to 4,000 lbs, to semi-custom products such as repackaging an existing product to full custom products as well.

The Opportunity:

As consumer industries become more aware of the engineering advances and critical need for workplace safety and ergonomics awareness, manufacturers of these products must also become more ergonomic compliant. In the case of Electro Kinetic Technologies the need for casters and wheels that are ergonomic friendly came from their own customer needs. Customers of theirs in the healthcare, retail and manufacturing industries are slowly becoming more aware of the science and ergonomics behind lifting and push/pull forces. While it is not standard practice to measure push/pull forces in every industry, some industries such as manufacturing have required guidelines and standards they must meet.  In order to address these new standards and rising trends, Electro Kinetic Technologies had to make a shift in their own suppliers to provide their customers with ergonomically friendly products.  

Electro Kinetic Technologies products use different drive systems depending on the application. One product being a transaxle with a differential and another uses multiple individual drive motors which have the added benefit of motorized turning. Motorized solutions with transaxles are still turned/ steered manually, therefore they need casters with a lower coefficient of friction as it improves battery life and it lowers the turning force which allows it to be steered more easily.

The Solution:

Electro Kinetic Technologies searched out and tested caster options from a variety of manufacturers including Darcor. They conducted their own testing internally on the SE caster single and dual to evaluate the performance of several caster companies and products. Their internal testing consisted of applying a load and aligning the casters in the same direction and 90 degrees to the cart to test a worst-case scenario. Darcor’s Solid Elastomer wheels on a kingpinless caster proved during testing to be superior than the other solutions in lowering the turning force for a given load. They were also searching for casters that would improve battery life however the gains in battery life are not very significant as hard materials tend to perform similarly if they are of a good quality. Therefore, the determining factor for choosing Darcor was the turning force based on their own internal testing. Darcor’s dual casters produced 25% less force, which was a measurable difference, pounds of force vs. a few ounces compared to other casters they tested.

The Result:

The main goal that Darcor achieved through testing was decreasing the overall turning and steering forces on their carts. Originally carts with a transaxle design did not offer any steering assistance and the operator would have to overcome those turning forces manually. Since the carts and payloads in question are very heavy, having casters that ensured these turning forces were as low as possible was imperative.

The first time Electro Kinetic Technologies saw the success of Darcor casters was on their own client. They had a large international industrial client trying to move a 3,500-pound payload in a tight space. When Electro Kinetic Technologies provided them with a center mount transaxle system with a differential drive, this system and the high-performance dual casters from Darcor gave the motorized cart a tight turning radius and exceptional maneuverability in the client’s small operating space. Ever since Electro Kinetic Technologies solved this problem for their client, they have been implementing Darcor casters into their carts for approximately four years now.

“The baseline is that people have to understand that the diameter of the caster and the caster material affects the performance from a push-pull standpoint. Even the subtle stuff like the geometry, whether it’s flat or crowned, that also affects performance. We buy casters almost exclusively from companies that are manufacturing them in USA and Canada or have strong oversight into their offshore operations, so they control their process. I can’t speak enough about that because when you buy from a distributor, they might try to sell you on a product they don’t know much about. We pay more for the Darcor caster, but we know that it’s a good caster, we know what we’re getting, and we’ve proven that the turning forces are less. The price may be higher, but the performance will be better,” says Raymond Erbe from Electro Kinetic Technologies.

For more about Darcor’s relationship with Electro Kinetic Technologies read their case study about Darcor here.

Are you ready to start seeing results for your organization? Get in touch with an ergonomics specialist here.

Raymond has also been a guest author on Darcor’s Workplace Ergonomics and Caster Technology blog. Read his guest post here.

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.

ErgoExpo Webinar: Guidelines for the Use and Design of Manually Handled Carts

ergoexpo darcor webinarJoin us for the next ErgoExpo Webinar

October 9, 2019 | 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT

Duration: 60 minutes

Produced by: National Ergonomics Conference & ErgoExpo

Manual material handling (MMH) tasks are typically complex, and cart handling is no exception. Manual material handling operators are subject to numerous ergonomic stressors while performing cart related tasks. The compound effect of awkward body postures, repetitive motions, and use of excessive force, increases the operator’s risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

In this presentation, we will discuss ergonomic design considerations for carts in order to keep operating forces within safe limits and reduce the risk of injury. Traditionally, determining the acceptability of cart-handling forces has been limited to analyses of initial, sustained and turning forces associated with cart operation. We will discuss how to evaluate force exertions encountered while handling carts, determine acceptable exertion levels, and share our thoughts on evaluating the compound forces experienced by considering all the tasks in an operation.

ErgoExpo Webinar topics

  • The ergonomics factors that affect push-pull forces in manual material handling situations
  • Cart design factors such as visibility, handle height, operating forces, and caster selection/placement
  • The risks and benefits associated with different wheel materials and design configurations
  • Case studies on the effectiveness and outcomes of employing good ergonomics in cart design and caster selection

Register now for this free ErgoExpo webinar!

Can’t make the webinar? Register anyway and we’ll let you know how to view it on demand!

Yohann Printer, Ergonomics Engineer, Darcor Ltd.

Yohann Printer is an Ergonomics Engineer at Darcor Limited. He holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from McMaster University specializing in Automotive Technology.

Yohann has extensive experience in R&D, testing, and new product development of casters and cart systems for ergonomic applications. His past research focused on the contribution of wheel tread materials to a caster’s ergonomic performance. He has consulted with end users globally on providing ergonomic caster solutions for industrial markets. He is focused on driving forward education on the ergonomic benefits of proper caster selection in manual materials handling applications.

How Darcor’s Casters Transitioned One Company to a Fork Free Facility

Case Study: Increased Efficiency and Workplace Safety Due to Caster and Cart Solution

The client:

Our client, a heavy stamping plant, located in Ontario, Canada is dedicated to metal stampings to make exterior panels for many automotive OEMs. They currently have several different product lines that include hoods, roofs, tailgates, fenders, etc. Their facility is a spacious warehouse, with aisles spread out to accommodate forklifts and fork trucks.

The opportunity:

The client’s original goal was to shrink their warehouse aisles to create more revenue generating space. In order to do this, they were trying to implement a “Fork Free” program. Forklifts and fork trucks take up the most space in warehouse aisles and so they recognized the easiest way to shrink their aisles were to get rid of Fork trucks and move to manual and tugger assisted material handling. Besides gaining revenue generating space, the “Fork Free” program would also increase workplace safety. With Forklifts in assembly areas there were many blind corners employees were constantly having to dodge. Additionally, semiskilled operators and drivers were hard to find and there was a shortage of employees that was decreasing efficiency. Overall the goal to implement a “Fork Free” system would increase revenue, efficiency and safety for this client. It is also crucial to remember that this workforce is older and it was crucial that this transition to “Fork Free” be as seamless as possible. Internally, an ergonomist student on site at the time determined a 40-pound push/pull force limit was the goal to achieve based on existing workplace guidelines.

The solution:

Once the client recognized their need for carts to replace their old system of Fork trucks, they went to their parent company to ask for recommendations. Another division within their company had gone through a similar transition and provided them with the advice to allocate a bigger portion of their budget for casters as opposed to carts, as casters provide the ergonomic and mobility performance. This division had experienced first hand that spending money on casters would drastically shift the efficiency and productivity on the warehouse floor vs. carts which were purely metal and did not effect the worker’s mobility the way casters do. It was this recommendation that lead them to Darcor and to begin discussions about the ergonomic value and performance that they will gain from casters.

Through an audit of the client’s current system and company processes, Darcor had assessed they needed multiple different carts with a variety of caster solutions. For example, good mobility force and traction/ non-slip were crucial for not only safety but also a smooth transition for the workforce. When the client came to Darcor’s facility to witness different tests it was determined a single SE on the swivel had the best push/ pull while an LE was required on the rigid for the towing application to maintain grip.

The results:

Originally, this “Fork Free” solution had some push back from employees who were an older workforce that didn’t like the idea of having to transition from driving Forklifts and Fork trucks to manually pushing a cart, however shortly after the change they have begun to value the health and workplace safety benefits of walking and moving around. The culture has shifted and has recognized the increased ergonomic value to their everyday jobs. With Darcor’s ergonomic caster solution the client was able to add 25% more production lines in the same sized facility.

“Fork free” also increases efficiency. Their new tuggers can move multiple bin sizes in one trip using less employees. By eliminating Forklifts and Fork trucks, they were no longer in need of drivers, therefore they not only stopped their search for drivers, but their current workforce was able to move more on the warehouse floor than before. This new process also increases workplace safety. Before employees would be dodging Forklifts and Fork trucks, but now they are able to move freely on the floor with Darcor’s tugger trains and workplace safe non-slip casters.

With Darcor’s help they were able to shrink aisle sizes from 16 to 7 feet with the implementation of carts over forklifts, ultimately achieving their main goal of creating more revenue generating space, with additional cost savings. Carts and tuggers cost significantly less than the maintenance and cost of forklifts and fork trucks. With this savings in not only cost but time the client was able to create a new digitized Kanban system that wouldn’t have been possible without switching to carts. Overall, Darcor also achieved the goal of a 40 pound push/pull force limit and maintained this ergonomic performance over several years of service.

Contact a Darcor consultant to discuss a caster and company audit so we can achieve the same results for your company.

Caster Problems: 10 Reasons Casters Fail

warehouse corridor and handcart, carton stockAlthough casters are one of the smaller parts that make up a material handling cart, they play an integral role in how that cart will move efficiently and safely. Also, premature caster failure can impact the company’s bottom line.

Caster technology has come a long way in the last several decades. Yet, still companies are challenged by caster problems which occur during manual material handling tasks. Caster problems can negatively impact ROI due to the recurring cost for caster replacement. Additionally, caster replacement can mean impaired productivity due to machine downtime.

There are many reasons a caster can fail but the one that comes up most often is: choosing the wrong caster in the first place. Many times, casters are selected based on upfront cost. What is not taken into account is that an inexpensive caster purchase can cost you much more in the long run if it is not the right caster for the application.

Multiply the caster replacement cost by the number of that specific caster you own and add in the loss of productivity when those carts or equipment are down… you may find that you had wished you had done more research to choose the correct caster at the beginning.

10 Reasons Casters Fail and How to Avoid Them

Generally speaking, caster failure is not due to the design or defect in the caster itself. It is generally because some key characteristics were not considered when the caster was purchased and/or installed. Here are the top 10 reasons casters fail:

1. Caster Capacity Overload

The main reason that casters fail in the field is the load capacity applied to the caster exceeds its rated capacity. To avoid this pitfall, consider the heaviest load that will be used in the application. Due to situations arising from uneven floors or bumps etc. it is possible that a four wheeled cart may have only three wheels actually absorbing the full load. A safety factor based on the use of three casters is therefore used to address this which means that if the load capacity is 2,000 lbs., a caster with a load rating of at least 667 lbs. is recommended.

2. Impact Loading

Impact loading occurs when a caster hits a large obstacle or bump and experiences the resulting g-forces. This means that if a caster with a load capacity of 100 lbs. hits a bump and experiences 5 g, it’s as if the caster is carrying 500 lbs. at that moment.

This impact load can cause a catastrophic failure of the caster due to the peak g-forces which cause the caster to bear a higher load than its rated load capacity.

3. Brinelling

Brinelling is the dent or “wear” that is pressed into a hard surface. Brinelling occurs in a caster when the ball bearings in the swivel head begin to develop grooves in the hard cap. Brinelling affects the performance of the swivel of the caster by increasing the swivel force. Swivelling forces are typically the largest mobility force that a material handling cart will experience.

4. Excess Swivel Offset

Excess swivel offset in a caster is generally due to a design flaw. It refers to the distance between the center of the axle and the center of the king pin or main rivet being too great. Having an excessive swivel offset creates a situation that when a load is applied, the legs of the yoke may break away from the swivel. There is a fine balance between a large enough offset that ensures ergonomic efficiency while short enough to ensure joint strength is not compromised. Working with a competent design and engineering team can assist in ensuring optimal offset is achieved.

5. Wrong Bearing Type

Bearings are the part of the caster that limits movement to preferred motion and reduces friction between the moving parts within the caster. Using the wrong bearing type for a specific application can also be a cause of failure. For example, an application experiencing high side thrust. A tapered bearing would best be utilized. Improper bearing selection will cause premature failure of the caster. Various considerations should be made such as; bearing material, race construction and accessibility for maintenance if required.

6. Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions can cause a caster to fail. In wet environments, using casters that don’t have stainless steel or chrome finishes, which are well-suited to these environments can lead to to corrosion. With corrosion comes the weakening of the caster components and increased risk of caster failure. Other environmental considerations include: surface characteristics (rough, uneven, slope etc.) and debris or other contaminants. Our Workplace Ergonomics Guide sheds light on more environmental conditions that could impact your choice of caster.

7. High speeds

High speeds can cause many issues with casters that weren’t designed for that specific application. Catastrophic failures can occur due to caster overheating, damage to the caster wheel hub, or damage to the bearings. Understanding the speed at which the caster will be used in its intended application will help you choose the right caster. For instance, you would need a much different caster for a manual material handling cart vs. a towable cart which can experience speeds in excess of 5 miles per hour.

8. Soft Top Plates

The function of the top plate of a caster is to provide secure attachment to the structure, protect the wheel and ensure the wheel direction is maintained. Having a thin top plate or one that isn’t hardened steel can make it very easy for it to bend out of shape potentially compromising both the load capacity and the directional intent of the caster. This condition mainly occurs when a caster goes over an obstacle and is damaged by the resultant impact. More robust and hardened top plates eliminate this issue.

9. King Bolt/Rivet Failure

Many casters are designed with the use of a rivet or kingpin bolt. These components generally have much of the stress concentrated on them when a high load is applied. Because of this, they are prone to failure when used in the wrong application. The solution to this potential issue is to use a Kingpinless caster that distributes the stress over a larger area on the caster.

10. Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can greatly affect the mobility performance of a caster. Many caster wheels are made from a variety of polymers and rubbers, which tend to lose their material properties when introduced to extreme temperature changes. Choosing the right wheel material to correspond with the temperature of the operating environment is the key when deciding on the right caster to use. A great example is caster use in food and freezer environments, which require dependable performance in extreme temperature conditions.

Choose the Right Caster the First Time to Reduce Caster Changeover and Costs

Caster changeover can be costly and can impact your business operations. Your business needs to cut costs and keep downtime low in order to improve. Choosing the right caster may seem like a minor decision, but by doing it right the first time, you can avoid costly caster maintenance and replacement down the road.

By considering the 10 caster pitfalls, you can avoid them in order to choose the right caster for your specific application.

To get some guidance on how to choose the right caster for your particular application, check out caster solutions by industry to help you understand how different industry applications require different caster solutions.

Don’t forget to download the The Economics of Ergonomics in the Manual Material Handling Industry Guide to get started!

This blog was originally published in April 2015.

Get Ready for ErgoExpo 2019!

ErgoExpo 2019 is coming up! Get Ready for These Top Three Sessions

The 25th National Ergonomics conference & ErgoExpo is only a few weeks away. The ErgoExpo is being held August 20 – 23, 2019 at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas.

The National Ergonomics Conference & ErgoExpo is the nation’s largest and longest running ergonomics event. This is the place to learn how to build or maximize your ergonomics program, while also having the opportunity to see, touch and compare thousands of products side-by-side. Darcor is especially excited about the conference’s recent focus on workplace safety and ergonomics.

This year the Darcor Team is looking forward to attending and participating in a variety of the scheduled ErgoExpo sessions. In our opinion, here are the top three:

Guidelines for the Use and Design of Manually Handled Carts – Thomas Albin PE, CPE, Principal High Plains Engineering Services

Manual material handling tasks are typically complex, and cart handling is no exception; the operator lifts the materials to the cart, starts the cart moving, sustains the motion of the cart, turns the cart, brakes the cart and lifts the objects from the cart. Determining the acceptability of cart-handling forces, however, has traditionally been limited to analyses of starting the cart moving, sustaining the movement and turning the cart. Dr. Albin will discuss techniques for evaluating the acceptability of push-pull forces by taking into consideration the compound interaction of all the different exertions performed.

Room: Versailles 1-2

Session Number: MH2

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 – 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Dr. Tom Albin recently wrote a blog for Darcor about Risk Mitigation in Manual Materials Handling (MMH) Push Pull Tasks, read it here.

Utilizing Lean Ergonomics to Reduce Injuries and Decrease Cost – Gretchen Schulz BSN, RN, Occupational Nurse Baxter Pharmaceutical

Using before and after photos and videos, Ms. Schulz will provide three examples of utilizing lean ergonomics — the intersection of lean thinking and ergonomics — to achieve reduction in injuries while reducing work steps and cost. The examples, which include both administrative and engineering solutions, include simple ergonomics equipment solutions for repetitive handling of glass in the automotive manufacturing industry, lean workflow design for pallet handling in a pharmaceutical packaging department, and an engineering solution to manual cleaning under warehouse racks.

Room: Versailles 3-4

Session Number: MH1

Wednesday, August 21, 2019 – 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM

Show Me the Money: How Real Companies Have Demonstrated a Return on Investment for Ergonomics – Mike Hoonhorst CPE, Managing Consultant Humantech

Even though many employers are focusing on their ergonomics programs to address substantial losses resulting from MSDs in the workplace, ergonomics professionals still often fail to get their ergonomics initiatives approved at their organization. Mr. Hoonhorst will explain that, to avoid this fate, occupational and EHS professionals need to sell ergonomics. They need to arm themselves with the right language to show the impacts that ergonomics has on overall business performance, employee engagement and product quality. Mr. Hoonhorst will demonstrate how, with the right tools — case studies, research findings and data — ergonomics professionals can get management’s attention and get their plans endorsed by business leadership.

Room: Versailles 3-4

Session Number: PM5

Thursday, August 22, 2019 – 8:15 AM to 9:15 AM

Darcor has created multiple case studies of our own to present how proper casters and ergonomics in the workplace have enhanced organizations and cut costs. Check them out here.

See you at ErgoExpo 2019! Visit Darcor’s Booth to Learn about Casters & Ergonomics

ErgoExpo is your unique opportunity to network and gain insights about ergonomics in-person and straight from the leaders of the industry. The ergonomics industry continues to shift its focus more and more to user experience and design, which is why Darcor has just recently released the Guide to Designing Manual Materials Handling Carts.

Well-designed manual materials handling cart systems can allow organizations to achieve significant benefits including:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced production downtime
  • Reduced maintenance
  • Decreased risk of workplace injuries
  • Cost savings

Download the Guide here.

Don’t forget to visit the Darcor team at booth #246 while you are in Las Vegas!

MHI Releases New Video About ICWM

MHI has released a new video titled How Wheels and Casters Move the World.

In this video, MHI touches upon the fundamental need for wheels and casters throughout the world, but most importantly, it highlights the Institute of Caster and Wheel Manufacturers (ICWM). Darcor is a proud member of ICWM, a long-standing organization that continues to be a global resource for manufacturing, design, and application of casters and wheels.

Watch MHI’s video below for more about casters and wheels as well as learn more about ICWM here.


This video was originally posted by MHI here.

AEC 2019 Highlights

The Darcor team just returned from AEC 2019 and we wanted to share some highlights.

At AEC 2019 this year:

  • A keynote presentation by William S. Marras, Ph.D., CPE, the Honda Chair in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering at The Ohio State University and the director of the university’s Spine Research Institute.
  • AEC Aspire Talks, a keynote presentation format featuring short form presentations of compelling messages from some of the brightest minds in ergonomics.
  • Educational sessions that range from manufacturing applications to office ergonomics to everything in between.
  • Roundtable and master track discussions about some of the most pressing issues in ergonomics.
  • Diverse vendors presenting their latest solutions, tools and resources in the exhibit hall to solve your organization’s challenges.
  • Real-world ergonomics solutions and applications from industry leading Ergo Cup® competitors
  • Hours of valuable networking opportunities, including Ergo Speed Networking, the AEC Trivia Game and a Mississippi River dinner/jazz cruise.
  • Pre-conference workshops designed to give you tangible skills to take back to your organization.
  • Dozens of presentations from the experts, sharing their success stories, lessons learned, and measurable impact.
  • Awards presentation for the Creativeness in Ergonomics Practitioner and Student of the Year.

The show seems to be getting bigger every year, with a lot of first-time attendees this year. There were over 60 Exhibitor booths and 48 Ergo cup teams. There was a strong focus as always around the ergonomic benefits of carts and casters with 8 presentations focusing on the topics of push/pulls forces, and carts and casters ergonomics. The Ergo Cup once again demonstrated how simple, cost effective, worker driven solutions can have a significant impact on the ergonomics of a work task while also contributing to production efficiencies and other ROIs.

Attendees were very interested in Darcor’s display on the debris rejecting capabilities of our Neoprene wheels, as well our capability to design ergonomic systems like the central brake and Zephyr.

There was a lot of discussion around the new BWC push/pull tool developed from the research done by OSU (SRI), which allows users to easily determine if their push/pull task is in a acceptable force range. The tool only requires a few input parameters and outputs a simple green, yellow or red indicator to let you know the percent of the population at risk for that task. These limits were determined biomechanically using accurate models of the spine to understand how to prevent damage to the spinal disks before exceeding these thresholds.

There was also a lot of buzz around exoskeletons, as they are a relatively new technology and their benefits and drawbacks have not fully been explored. The keynote on both days focused on this topic and how further research is needed in this field to validate the claims these devices make.

Highlights from keynote speaker, Bill Marras from Ohio State University, Spine Research Center:

  • Made reference to new BWC/OSU Push/Pull Guidelines.
  • Encourage the audience to check out his Ted Talk on “Back Pain and Your Brain”
  • Drew attention to the fact that in the last 20 years, the cost of hospital services in the United States has risen over 200 percent and at the same time lower back and neck pain has remained the leading YLD (years of life disabled) globally over that same period. YLD is the number of years that an individual lives with a functional impairment caused by a disease (its morbidity). YLD is one measure of the overall burden of a disease; the other is the disease’s mortality.

Highlights from Cintas Ergo Journey by Stephen Jenkins from Cintas:

  • Cintas developed a vision for world-class safety and health in the mid-2000’s. To help achieve this vision, Cintas developed a corporate ergonomics process that fit within their strong corporate culture.
  • In the session, Jenkins discussed how the team drove ergonomics through front-line engagement and straight forward goal setting. By using non-expert help to drive design and process changes, Cintas drove simplicity in tools and metrics to engage leadership. Cintas managed this across 700 small workplaces with a distributed workforce to prevent MSDs and reduce their frequency and related costs. Jenkins shared Cintas’ vision, plan, simple tools and quick fixes. The session also shared their successes within the organization and rewarded successes by encouraging staff to attend the Ergo Cup.

Highlights from Evaluation of Push Pull Exposures at Metalworker, Wholesale Distributor, Order Fulfillment Center – A Case Study, presented by Gregg Kloss, Nationwide Insurance:

  • There has been increased concern over pushing and pulling activities in recent years. Pushing and pulling is common in many manufacturing environments, warehouse and distribution settings, the service and delivery industry. Studies have shown that pushing and pulling tasks may present a significant risk for a low back disorder (LBD). An internal analysis of WC claims completed by the Ohio Bureau of WC confirms that approximately 10% of LBD costs are associated with pushing and pulling. The Ohio BWC funded an ergonomic project to study low back and shoulder disorders resulting from pushing and pulling work activities. This study was completed by researchers at the OSU Spine Research Institute and this project resulted in the development of push pull guidelines for industry. Kloss discussed how the new push pull guidelines were used to evaluate push pull exposures at a metalworker, wholesale distributor, and an order fulfillment center. Also, Kloss discussed recommendations offered to mitigate hazards posed by push pull work activities and share secondary outcomes realized by the lessening of overall push pull forces (e.g. increased productivity, employee comfort, and improved engagement).
  • Some stats shared: Annual cost of low back pain – $50 billion, for every $1 spend on WC insurance, $0.28 goes to Manual Material Handling repetitive injury/pain, shoulder injuries cost $7 billion, but are difficult to treat, 20% of losses – push pull is a factor.
  • Kloss also reviewed the history of push/pull knowledge including Anook (1978), Snook & Ciriello (1991), Rapp Tool (2016) and OSU Tool (2017).
  • Additionally, Kloss presented two case studies.

The team at Darcor has developed the Guide to Designing Manual Materials Handling Carts for cart designers to consider specific aspects in the design process including environmental considerations, operator factors, and task-related scenarios.

Get the guide today!

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This booklet provides a more expanded, illustrated view of Darcor’s world-leading automotive casters. Provides evidence of how superior design and manufacturing helps leading auto companies cut worker injuries and keep production lines running. Download Now

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This folder offers both an overview and specifications of Darcor’s leading edge medical casters which deliver the ultimate in safety, dependability, ease of motion, shock dampening, and maneuverability for a wide range of specialized applications. Download Now