Bodyweld: The Right Wheel for the Application
Automotive plants are one of the toughest environments when it comes to operating truck carts, WIP carts, tugger carts and other material handling systems. Automotive plants typically operate morning, afternoon and night shifts, which puts tremendous pressure on the wheels and casters on material handling systems. And that puts tremendous pressure on plant managers to make sure they have the right casters and wheels on their units.
The wrong casters damage floors, injure workers, and increase noise levels, and when a cart fails and has to be taken out of production, that immediately risks halting production—a costly proposition.
This is the challenge that one of Caster Connection’s clients faced.
The company is a major automotive manufacturer based in the United States. Their plant operates 24 hours a day, assembling a range of automobiles for a variety of markets. Within the plant is a shop responsible for welding auto body parts.
This shop uses Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to move the auto body components into, through and out of the shop as part of the automotive production process. At this facility, their AGVs are typically loaded 450kg over their rated capacity.
The body weld shop had a problem with the casters on its AGVs. The rubber treads on the caster wheels collected weld dust, slag and metal shavings off the shop floor. This debris eventually embedded itself into the tread, so that the entire portion of the wheel coming in contact with the floor was metal, not rubber.
The wheels then damaged the floor in the shop by wearing a permanent groove into the floor. This groove caused many problems for the AGVs, often throwing them off their intended course when the AGVs changed direction, causing them to collide with workers and equipment.
The automotive plant contacted Caster Connection and invited us in to examine their situation and recommend a solution.
Because of Caster Connection’s extensive experience with automotive applications, we quickly diagnosed that their problem was with the durometer (hardness) of their wheels. The wheels on their AGVs featured a polyurethane tread that was too hard for their application. Instead of deflecting debris, it allowed weld dust, slag and metal shavings to embed in the tread.
What our client needed was a softer wheel, one made from a high-quality polyurethane to withstand the constant movement. We recommended our CC Apex caster, whose high-quality polyurethane tread dispels weld slag, metal chips and other debris to protect shop floors.
The CC Apex also has a weight capacity of 1,500 lbs., more than sufficient for our client’s AGV’s, which were typically overloaded.
Eighteen months after replacing their commodity casters with our CC Apex casters, their AGVs are still in operation, and they have picked up exactly zero weld dust, zero slag and zero metal shavings. This has resulted in no more damage to the shop floors, and improved safety for workers and equipment.
“Caster Connection’s expert team assessed our situation and recommended a wheel with a slightly softer durometer that allowed the weld slag to be deflected and not embed,” says the Body Weld Production Engineer at the plant. “After nearly one year in service, the Caster Connection wheels remain slag free and have become our new standard for our AGV’s."