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• 7 min read

5 reasons to consider moving heavy loads and machinery with air skates

Dennis Smolders | 02-09-2019

In the manufacturing industry, the movement of machinery, work in progress, sub-assemblies or other heavy loads provides a challenge. Especially since manufacturing equipment doesn’t stay in one place like it used to. Engineers are thinking about smart ways to move heavy equipment efficiently and safely, without causing downtime. They often turn to conventional equipment they have used before, such as overhead cranes, roller equipment or forklifts. However, more and more engineers are using air skates for these challenging tasks and that’s not without reason. It offers a range of advantages over other solutions. I’ll tell you more about it in this blog.

1. Omnidirectional manoeuvrability and moving in tight spaces

As the name air skates suggests, the device basically transports and lifts heavy loads on air. It works like a hovercraft, where the loads float on a nearly frictionless layer and can be moved in any direction. It offers 360 degrees of rotation, omnidirectional manoeuvrability, positioning in all horizontal directions and they can fit easily in tight and compact spaces. 

It’s much easier to navigate the heavy equipment in place compared to traditional solutions. Only one kg of force is required to move a weight of 1,000 kg. This makes it simple to change course and move around. All you have to do is push the load in the direction you want to go to. This enables you to precisely position and align the load, regardless of its size and weight.

Maybe you’re thinking that transport wheels and castors offer the same degree of manoeuvrability and positioning as air casters, but often the load has to be lifted to turn the wheels.

2. Reduces human effort and minimises risks

In the manufacturing industry, ergonomics is an important cornerstone to meet safety standards for factory workers. Jobs often include high force, awkward joint positions and direct pressure which can be damaging. Especially when employees are responsible for heavy material handling or moving heavy loads. The amount of pushing or pulling forces used to move heavy loads should be reduced. Air skates are the most ergonomic and safe solution for transporting and lifting heavy machinery and loads.

They enable a single person to safely move a load weighing up to thousands of kilos. And air skates allow employees to move a weight of 1,000 kg with just one kg of force. For heavier loads, specially designed air caster transport systems are available for extra steering and force.

3. Less risk of damaging floors

Because air skates transport heavy loads on a cushion with air, there is no floor contact and very little friction. The loads are also distributed over a wide surface area instead of a point or line contact which results in low floor loading and less risk of damaging floors. Therefore, it’s the go-to solution for smooth and non-porous surfaces that can’t be damaged or loaded.

4. Minimal maintenance is required

Air skates are robust devices that are easy to maintain. They have no moving parts, require no lubrication and have no maintenance schedule. They can get dirty, but you can easily clean them with soap and water. There’s only one thing you have to take in mind: once cleaned, make sure that the blow hole is reinstalled in the correct position.

5. Moving delicate loads without vibration

Some loads are sensitive to vibration and jarring. Air skates don’t transfer every bump in the floor to the load and isolate vibration. They provide a compliant suspension because the air cushions are flexible and conform to imperfections in the floor. 

Discover the benefits of air caster systems for you and your company

If you are looking for a solution for moving heavy loads and machinery in the manufacturing industry that offers high manoeuvrability and precision with positioning, low floor loading, safety and ease of use, take a look at air skates. 

Do you want to know more on how air casters work or do you want to learn about its application fields? In the Internal Transportation Guide you'll get the answers. 

moving heavy objects

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Dennis Smolders

Technical Engineer at Aerofilm Systems