Explanation of Wheel Configuration for Industrial Carts

posted on: Monday September 24, 2012

Since the wheel was invented carts were used to move product. Over the years materials for carts have changed and the manufacturing methods have improved. Some carts are built out of stainless steel for the food industry and others are used for moving manufactured product in a production facility. The one thing that all carts have in common is that they are all designed around the wheel. The wheel assembly under the cart is what allows the cart to move loads easily.

Depending on how a cart is being used determines the wheel assembly. There are many wheel configurations that improve the performance of the cart when moving from point “A” to point “B”. The following are some examples of wheel configurations that are commonly used in industrial environments:

    1.  Four Wheel/Caster Steer – (2) rigid wheels in back and (2) swivel caster wheels in front. This configuration turns easily and tracks straight. Examples of thisconfiguration are utility and platform carts, tool chests, dumpsters and grocery carts. Steering is usually performed from the caster end of the cart. The easiest way to steer the cart is to steer above the caster wheel assembly. One exception is on grocery carts where the casters are on the opposite end from the steering.


    1.  Four Wheel Caster – (4) swivel caster wheels. Easily maneuvered in all directions but has no tracking ability. Typical uses are on dollies, bread carts, shop-vac, office chairs, and mob buckets. Steering is accomplished by forcing the loaded cart into a new direction. This wheel system is for light loads that can easily be maneuvered into tight places. If the load is too heavy the cart will take the path of least resistance because of its inability to track.


    1. Four Wheel Diamond – (2) rigid wheels in center and (1) swivel caster wheel in front and (1) in back. This can be a tilt style design, with larger ridged wheels and smaller caster wheels, which turns on the center wheels. It is very maneuverable and does track straight. The load should be centered over the rigid center wheels in order to minimize excessive weight on either swivel caster. It is often used on longer carts used for heavy lumber and bar stock material that need to turn in its own length. Another example would be laundry carts that hold a lot of product but do not weigh a great deal. The carts are large in order to move a lot of laundry but they also need to be highly maneuverable in a laundry environment.


  1.  Wagon W/Fifth Wheel Steer – (2) rigid wheels in back and (2) rigid wheels on a fifth wheel steer assembly. Steering effort is reduced with heavy loads because of the long lever arm attached to the fifth wheel steer assembly. This comes in handy for heavily loaded carts and also for pallet jack applications. A wagon style cart can also have large wheels to reduce the rolling resistance and multiple carts can be trained together for increased productivity.

The above wheel configurations are typical designs that can be further modified to accommodate your individual application. It’s important to pick a configuration that best meets the needs of the application. As an example, if your desire is to pull a train of carts then the Four Wheel Caster would be the worst choice because of its poor tracking ability. You would want to pick a wheel configuration that each cart would track directly behind the cart in front of it.

There are many cart manufacturers that can help with selecting the best wheel configuration for an application. Load Mover Inc. can also guide you in putting together
a system that moves product efficiently.