Australia Post had a problem. They used ball transfer tables for manual sorting of bulky international mailbags weighing up to 35 kg. This required substantial and repetitive manual effort by operators to push, pull and rotate the bags, exposing them to potential musculoskeletal injury. To address this issue Australia Post looked for alternative solutions that would substantially reduce operator input and exposure to risk of injury. With a targeted push/pull force (5kg) for a 35Kg bag, it was acknowledged that this target would in all likelihood require a powered solution, adding to operating and maintenance costs.
Rotacaster proposed a manual transfer solution utilizing their 48mm Rotacasters combined with polyacetal (POM) spacer rollers. The roller’s smaller diameter was designed to provide support for the soft packaging, while minimizing friction and reducing the number of Rotacaster wheels required. Australia Post and Rotacaster collaborated on the design and construction of the transfer table. Trials were successfully undertaken at an Australia Post gateway.
The solution resulted in a significant reduction of push/pull forces to between 40 and 70N (4-7kg) in all directions on the table. Australia Post considered this a remarkable achievement in the absence of any powered assist.
In addition to reducing the push/pull forces required, without the cost noise and maintenance associated with a powered solution, the polymer surfaces of the Rotacasters and spacer rollers have demonstrated a lower affinity to adhesion of labels and stickers from packages, further reducing down time and maintenance costs.
Rotacaster CEO Peter McKinnon noted, “Feedback from operators using the table has been exceptionally positive. And importantly, the risk of injury has been reduced. Rotacasters are proving their versatility.”
With this extremely successful trial result, the remaining transfer tables at this Gateway facility will be replaced with the Rotacaster solution, with further upgrades to follow in Sydney, Brisbane and elsewhere.
360 degree maneuverability is achieved with Rotacaster’s direct lateral and rotational movement. Rotacaster makes manual movement of loads safer, faster and easier. The most important message communicated by safety managers is the concern and need for workplace ergonomic improvements whenever and wherever possible. Especially when workers compensation, lost work days and insurance premiums can be reduced while improving productivity.
Rotacaster, while fixed in a primary orientation, facilitates movement in any direction without the need of a traditional swivel mount. Omni-wheels have been used in conveyor and light-duty robotics applications for years, yet the Rotacaster multi-directional wheel is engineered to provide additional robustness, durability, and ride quality necessary as an industrial floor wheel.
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Rotacaster Wheel Ltd.
Peter McKinnon, Managing Director
+61 2 4907 8100