David Fisher invented casters in 1876 to make it easier to move furniture. Casters have become commonplace in medical settings, offices, homes, and industry. Anytime people move heavy or bulky loads, a caster likely plays a part.
Some objects need to move intermittently, but stay securely in place after relocation. For example, a hospital bed rolls for patient transport. If the patient needs to wait a while for a procedure, staff lock the wheels into place. Other objects need the ability to move straight over long distances and make tight turns. In these objects, we may want to have swivel wheels that can convert to more rigid configurations. Locking caster wheels provide flexibility.
Swivel casters turn easily in any direction and maneuver around tight corners, but are hard to push in a straight line over long distances. A directional lock makes a swivel caster function similar to a rigid caster in order to make pushing a cart down a long path easier.
Total Locks immobilize the wheel as well as the swivel. If you want your cart to remain in one spot even if someone pushes it or leans against it, choose a total lock. Total locks may also help keep a cart still when it is on a slight incline.
Floor locks are added to carts in addition to the caster wheels. They are a bit taller than the caster heights. You set the lock with your foot. Objects with engaged floor locks resist movement better than total wheel locks. Consider floor locks for applications where you load and unload heavy objects. These locks also work well for making a cart level on an incline.
Wheel locks come in foot-engaged and hand-engaged designs. Consider which design will fit your needs best. Consider that you will have to bend over to reach a hand-engaged caster lock on a wheel that sits on the floor.
Some lock models may be added to existing casters by customers. This prevents you from having to purchase new casters with integrated locks. Consider whether the lock will be strong enough for the forces that it will encounter.
When you want a cart with more flexibility and secure footing when stationary, consider adding caster locks. There are a variety of models available. A dealer can help you select the best solution for your application.