Cleaning up the Industrial Industry

3-Step Guide To Checking Your Factory Equipment's Steel Casters

by Alfredo Harper

If you work in an industrial plant and have movable equipment set up on steel caster wheels, these casters should be inspected periodically to ensure that the equipment can be moved safely without breaking the wheels off. Use the following three-step guide to thoroughly check your factory equipment's steel casters.

Step 1:  Inspect The Wheels And Axles

The first step in checking the casters is to inspect the wheels and axles. Worn wheels could make the equipment rattle or jump while being moved. They could also break if the tread or casing has become worn or brittle. When axles are frozen or gunked up, this prevents smooth movement of the wheels, potentially making the equipment stop abruptly and causing it to tip over.

When looking at the wheels, run your finger over the entire surface. You should feel the texture of the tread but should not feel any inconsistencies, such as random smooth spots. Also, feel for jagged edges that could indicate the rubber has torn. If the wheel has become smooth or ripped, it will need to be replaced.

After checking the tread on all of the wheels, look at the axle pin located in the center of each wheel. Look for signs of rust or corrosion. Also, check to make sure there is no dirt between the pin and wheel that could keep the axle from spinning freely.

Unlock the axle and spin the wheel while looking at it from the side, then looking straight down. You should see no wobbling or uneven rotation. If you do, the wheel or axle may need to be replaced.

Step 2:  Look At The Frames And Fasteners

Once you have inspected the wheels and axles, the next things to look at are the frames and fasteners of the casters. This includes examining the nuts and bolts to make sure they are tight and free of rust. It also involves checking the welds to make sure they are fully intact.

Use your index finger and thumb to check each bolt and nut. There should not be any movement. If any do move, use a crescent or socket wrench to tighten the nut or bolt in question. If any does not tighten after several attempts, the threads may be stripped. If so, replace them with the same sized bolt or nut.

Once you have ensured that all nuts and bolts are tight, look at the weld points holding the casters to the equipment. If you see any hairline cracks or obvious breaks, do not continue using the equipment, as the welds could break can cause it to topple. Instead, either consult with your factory's maintenance mechanic or call the supplier for recommendations on how to proceed.

Step 3:  Check The Casters' Lubricant

Once you have checked the physical components of the casters, look to see if the axles, bearings and bolts are properly lubricated. Lubrication is essential for keeping the casters free from rust and moving smoothly. However, make sure you do not get any lubricant on the wheels themselves, as this could make them slip and slide with the slightest bump.

Run your finger along the axles and bolts. There should be a thin film. If not, apply a small amount of water-resistant lubricant as recommended by your supplier. Then, place several drops in the lubricant well to keep the bearings lubricated. The amount will depend on your particular equipment's specifications, so you may need to consult the manual or contact manufacturer.

While checking the equipment's casters, you may find that they have become warped or rusted. If the equipment is lightweight, such as a work table, you could install new ones yourself. However, if the equipment is heavy or highly specialized, you may want to contact your industrial supplier for their recommendation on how to replace the steel casters.

For more information on steel casters, contact an industrial supply company.