Caster brakes: the untold story

Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:24 AM  RssIcon

Just about everything about Hamilton is unstoppable: our drive to innovate, our thirst for bigger and better, our addiction to Chili Cheese Fritos. But if there’s one thing that makes us love inertia, it’s designing the right brakes for the right caster. You might think that choosing the right brake type is easy, but that depends on both your caster and application.

On level production floors, brakes aren’t necessarily required because the load weight is usually enough to stop casters cold. But if your application requires extra safety or you’ve got uneven floors to tangle with, it’s time to think about caster brakes. Here’s a quick overview of six of most popular force fighters.

Side Foot Brake

This husky all-steel wheel brake has been redesigned to be even more positive lock-friendly while accommodating more casters in our series. When you step down on either end of the pedal, cam action locks the wheel. But thanks to the brake’s unique design, a full-length spanner bushing gives the caster more rigidity. Note: Not available with wheels having tapered bearings.

Rap-A-Round Side Foot Brake

Our engineers took our standard side foot brake and added a pedal extension for convenient all-around accessibility. Nice.

Heavy Duty Contact Brake

This heavy-duty face contact brake is Hamilton’s most effective friction-based brake. The bracket is made from 3/16” x 2” plate steel with an easy to engage foot pedal, and it features an adjustable thick rubber stop for better "grip" on the wheel surface.

Ergo Brake

Hamilton’s all-new premium Ergo gets its name from its design: step down to engage and step down to disengage, much easier on the body. The brake is also compact in size yet maintains a strong positive lock. Great for tight spaces or a small envelope.

Maxi-Duty Contact Brake

Available on the Maxi-Duty and Dual Wheel Maxi-Duty Casters, this brake is activated by tightening the brake-shoe against the wheel(s). The “Thumbscrew” design provides adjustable brake pressure.

Combination Brake

We’ve got a complete series dedicated to this brake type, featuring a stylish swivel rig in 4”, 5” and 6” sizes. By pressing down on the pedal, both the swivel caster and wheel lock simultaneously.

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This revolutionary NASA wheel is worthy of Game of Thrones combat

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:23 AM  RssIcon

In space, no one cares if you get a flat tire. Except if you’re NASA. Then it’s pretty important. Their engineers have spent years tinkering with wheel designs tough enough to sustain heavy human use over Mars’ cruelest rocks and crags. And now they may just have cracked it.

Check out their new “Superrelastic” tires made of memory alloy springs based on nickel titanium. When woven into interlocking coils, this alloy can deform up to 30 times more than steel mesh and automatically return back to its original shape—giving the tires more traction and durability than any rigid steel designs. Plus, they can handle heavier payloads at higher speeds. It’s like a protective coating of chainmail that can battle the Lannisters, Boltons and Targaryens with one hand tied behind its back.

Though they were originally created for future exploration on Mars, the nearly indestructible tires have the potential to revolutionize transportation on Earth, too. Think about it: Rebel wheels that can conquer the toughest terrain and bounce back like nothing ever happened?

Talk about surviving a rocky relationship.

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Remember when we killed it with those steamy caster photos?

Monday, December 18, 2017 8:22 AM  RssIcon

In the blogging world, there are winners and losers. Naturally, we’re all about #winning. The only time we look back is to see how far we’ve come. Here’s a backcast at 10 memorable stories that shaped a year of putting out the toughest casters and carts on the planet. And then some.

We resurrected the ultimate Hamilton fight song, a marketing tour de force.

We created Ultra-Maxi Duty casters, the highest capacity production caster series in the galaxy.

We set the art world on fire with a photographic montage of our most alluring caster creations.

We conjured all our powers to create a monster fidget spinner worthy of Guinness World Record fame, much to the delight of parents everywhere.

We proved to everyone that preventative equipment maintenance saves money in the long run.

We introduced our aerospace 3-series shock absorbing casters—a first for Hamilton.

We put you in the driver’s seat with our hard-hitting trailer steering breakdown.

We supported Hyperloop One—Elon Musk’s high-speed super tube of the transportation future.

We created one of the purrtiest and brawniest custom trailers for an energy giant.

We revolutionized forged steel caster production with our new Powder Paint Coating System, multiplying Hamilton durability, sustainability and good looks along the way.

Bring it, 2018.

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From our family to yours

Sunday, December 17, 2017 8:20 AM  RssIcon

No matter how nutty the holidays get—or how profoundly your Aunt Jeanne’s politics make your head explode—it’s strangely comforting to know there’s one constant, immutable force in the universe: family. Family is pretty important to the folks here at Hamilton. Four generations strong, in fact. So we’re gathering ‘round to share what we’re most thankful for this year—and what we’re looking forward to in 2018.

Dave Lippert, President:

“On the personal side, having a new granddaughter born in 2017 is most exciting. The Hamilton Caster family grew this year, too. Thanks to an increase in business, one retirement, and a couple of younger folks making career changes, we have seven new family members. Each brings an outside perspective and new vigor to the table. Just like a sports team, each fills a particular role to help this family company meet and exceed expectations. I am most thankful that our veterans welcome the newbies with open arms and do everything possible to help them succeed.”

“I look forward to a 2018 where our Hamilton Caster family delivers solutions and performs at record-setting levels. As our customers succeed, we will succeed.”

Steve Lippert, Executive Vice President:

“On the personal side, we now have two grandchildren under two years old, and we covet our time with them. This year has been professionally rewarding as we close out our 110th year of business establishing a new sales record.

For 2018, I know we will have a third grandchild in February. That is the most exciting news! As for the business side, I’m working on a major new initiative with a new distributor alliance. This energizes me, as I derive great satisfaction from my professional working relationships.”

Jim Lippert, Vice President, Sales:

“I am most thankful for a prosperous year at Hamilton Caster—and a total team effort from our people. We are beginning to see the fruits of a lot of hard ground work laid over the past few years. Additionally, it’s been inspiring to watch Hamilton employees step up to meet challenges along the way. The entire production team “stemmed the tide” to meet our shipping orders during a particularly hectic time. When we experienced leaves of absence from key personnel, others doubled down to keep the train moving. And, finally, when our clients wanted more, our people were there to make important quality improvements. It’s been a rewarding 2017.

I am looking forward to continued growth in 2018. Our cart/trailer division is poised for a much bigger year. And with our continued efforts in lean manufacturing, I’m confident that Hamilton Caster will become an even more nimble and profitable company.”

Mark Lippert, Vice President, Marketing:

“I am most thankful for my two beautiful daughters (ages 8 and 4) who have brought incredible joy to me and my wife this past year. I am also thankful for the amazing team I work with here at Hamilton. They have demonstrated unwavering commitment and endurance during a record-breaking sales year.

Now that my daughters giggle with joy when our favorite babysitter shows up, I look forward to more dinners out with my wife. I am also looking forward to debuting an all-new Hamilton website next month that's been in the works for two years. Finally, I’m excited for the release of many new products that have been in development this past year.”

--Happy Holidays to all of you from your friends at Hamilton Caster.

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Gargantuan in-line wheels stay on track

Friday, December 01, 2017 8:00 AM  RssIcon

Roll with it. That phrase applies in more ways than one to a recent custom application we created for a Canadian design firm.

Roll with the challenges.
The end customer—an oil refinery—needed to upgrade its 30,000 lb. trolleys to accommodate a much larger load of heat exchangers. Since part of the application path ran outdoors, we needed to ensure a smooth ride. And to make things even more interesting, the trolley had to roll on steel gauge rails the size of train tracks. Normally, we would have added more casters underneath the trolley bed to distribute the load evenly (the advantage of doing more casters is you can use smaller wheels). But we didn’t have the clearance underneath because the heat exchangers occupied that space. Twist our arm…we needed to create bigger wheels.

Roll big or go home.
Of course, we could have gone with four humongous wheels. But we got creative and came up with a unique flanged inline dual-wheel design. Unlike a dual-wheel caster that features wheels side by side, this caster, rated up to 95,000 lbs., runs with back-to-back wheels that support each other. Not only does the giant load roll smoothly on the tracks, but it stays level on the uneven outdoor track.

Watching our team assemble these truly immense casters was like being front and center at an industrialized sumo wrestling match. It was a truly championship display of brute strength, complete with cranes, torque wrenches, sledge hammers and mallets.

Muscle, hustle and ingenuity. That’s how we roll.

Check out these winning specs:

  • Description: Special Flanged In-Line Caster
  • Capacity: 95,000 pounds when used on ASCE 60 lb. rail at speeds of 1 MPH or less
  • Running Gear: 2 each, 16" x 3-5/8" Single Flanged Track
  • Wheel diameter: 17.5”
  • Mounting plate: 14” W x 20” L x 1.5” thick

Whether you need a custom caster for a unique application, or something more standard, Hamilton can solve any material-handling challenge. Let’s talk.

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How to feel safe in an unsafe world? Torque striping

Thursday, November 30, 2017 3:02 PM  RssIcon

We apply a colorful strip of thin lacquer to a bolted connection to indicate it has been torqued to the proper value giving the desired preload. Once cured, the stripe stays pliable under extreme temperatures and vibrations. If the stripe separates, you know the bolted connection has moved, reducing the preload—and it’s time for another tightening.

That’s because we offer torque striping on demand as an added safety feature. You’ll find torque striping on applications such as large tractor engines and mission aerospace equipment. Think of it like a wax seal of safety for industrial use.

We apply a colorful strip of thin lacquer to a bolt/nut to indicate it has been torqued to the proper value. Once cured, the stripe stays pliable under extreme temperatures and vibrations. If the stripe moves or separates, you know the bolt has come loose or been compromised in some way—and it’s time for another tightening.

That means no more wasted time checking bolt torques during inspection. Torque striping is a secure, visual indication that things are tight and right.

Got questions about torque striping? Feel free to email John Yater.

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This homegrown CNC router is a cut above

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 3:07 PM  RssIcon

As a company that uses large-format CNC routers in our own operations, we were pretty excited to come across this inexpensive yet powerful CNC router for home use. Called Maslow, it’s a large (4’ x 8’) automated cutting machine that uses digitally generated designs to cut objects out of wood with extreme precision—everything from furniture and kayaks to a tiny tree house.

Bringing open source CNC routers to the masses is a breakthrough move, since CNCs for home use have typically been elusive and expensive. The creators, Hannah Teagle and Bar Smith, developed Maslow through an initial Kickstarter campaign, with the goal of delivering a CNC that could fit in a one car garage, cost under $500 and be cheap and easy to ship. Maslow uses gear-reduced DC motors with encoders and a closed-loop feedback system to achieve high accuracy and high torque.

Want to reserve your very own Maslow?

Put yourself on the waitlist now.

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We’re thankful for a great year in manufacturing

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 3:08 PM  RssIcon

While the dust settles off our carb-induced Thanksgiving comas, we’d like to show our gratitude for a winning year in manufacturing. Not only will 2017 be Hamilton’s best year ever in topline growth; it’s also the year that this vital but behind-the-scenes industry hit its stride in many ways, thanks to steady global economic growth, an uptick in energy and other commodity prices and heightened business confidence.

Several industries are feeling the progress—from bulldozers to semiconductors to food products, according to this recent Wall Street Journal article. U.S. manufacturers have added 156,000 workers over the last year, and companies are investing more in plants and equipment to increase productivity. Why the bump? Experts believe we can thank shrinking wage differentials between U.S. and foreign workers, rapid technological advancements and a business-friendly president in the White House.

So to continue the love, here are five more things we’re thankful for here at Hamilton:

  • Employees who focus on solutions and always give their all
  • A business buoyed by four family generations
  • American-made products
  • Customers who constantly challenge and inspire us to be better
  • The support and love of family and friends

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017 holiday season.

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RIP, sales funnel. Viva l’infinity loop

Monday, November 27, 2017 3:13 PM  RssIcon

Our VP of Marketing, Mark Lippert, recently attended a marketing leadership forum in California that was all about marketing trends. It was good stuff, so we thought we’d pass along a particularly useful nugget here.

It seems the traditional sales funnel we all know is dead. The good news is that it’s been replaced by a circle of continuous customer engagement—with infinite opportunities to influence and deepen brand loyalty.

The old way
Once upon a time, marketers used the “sales funnel” approach to reach consumers at the most influential moments in their purchasing decisions. At the “top” of the funnel, marketers cast a wide net of awareness about their brand to the broadest group possible—and then funneled interested consumers through a series of strategic moments of truth to convert them. It was very linear.

But digital marketing has disrupted these moments of truth, forever changing the way people research and buy products. 70% of consumers now use product reviews to make purchases, for example. And 79% of consumers use a smart phone to help them make product decisions way before they even engage a brick and mortar business or e-tailer.

The new way
The consumer journey is now cyclical and infinite because today’s customers are still often actively engaged with the brand—as well as their friends and peers—after they’ve bought a product or service using social media and the Web.

Source: Influence 2.0 – Altimeter, TopRank Marketing

What does it all mean? It means marketers need to manage all touchpoints of the customer experience—from their online and offline presence to the post-purchase experience (e.g. loyalty programs). It means marketers need to listen to their customers. Know them. Study them. Anticipate and meet their needs. Design programs that matter to them. Make every interaction count.

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All new! Experience the powder paint difference in Hamilton Casters

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 7:50 AM  RssIcon

What? You’ve ground down your night guard wondering what kind of game-changing innovation we’re introducing this month? Relax that jaw. The wait is over.

Hamilton is proud to introduce our new Powder Paint Coating System. To understand exactly what this means for the future of caster excellence, let’s reference our clues from our August teaser:

“It will become a standard practice in our caster manufacturing.”
Starting now, all Hamilton forged steel casters come powder painted fresh out of our factory. If you’ve received casters from us in the last few weeks, you know what we mean firsthand. (Note: our medium and light duty casters will remain zinc-plated).

“It will make our products exponentially more durable.”
This is the big sell, really. Powder coating is much more durable than spray enamel. It’s also less prone to erosion, impervious to tough chemicals and can withstand tough weather conditions.

“It’s going to look pretty slick.”
Our powder paint comes in two eye-catching colors. Goodbye dull, battleship gray. Hello, sleek metallic platinum powder. Hello, gorgeous Hamilton Red.

“It’s environmentally friendly.”
No harmful VOCs or solvents are released during the making of our powder paint creations. It’s EPA-safe for air and water pollution, too. Fun fact: U.S. powder paint suppliers have been moving away from TGIC polyester powder paint formulas over the last decade. The replacement curing chemistry uses HAA, hydroxyalkylamides, to cross-link the polyester during the curing phase (and HAA is what you’ll find in all Hamilton powder painted casters). TGIC, which stands for triglycidyl isocyanurate, is a nasty chemical. Like asbestos, it’s only bad if you stir it up. And when you do, it’s been reported to cause, among other things, “testicular atrophy” in men. So, yeah, banning TGIC from our powder paint products was the easiest decision we’ve ever had to make for our workers.

Did we mention how many grandchildren we Hamiltonians have?

Experience the Powder Paint difference now.

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