Over two and a half million tonnes of air freight is moved through the United Kingdom every year. Here in the East Midlands our local airport is the second largest freight carrier in the country, after Heathrow. In 2008 just less than 300,000 tonnes of cargo has moved through this Midlands airport either within passenger planes or within dedicated cargo aircraft. All of this cargo has been moved by containers on castors at one stage or another throughout its freight lifecycle. Although 300,000 tonnes is a huge amount of cargo, it pails into insignificance compared to Heathrow’s 1.48 million tonnes of freight and cargo handled in 2008 (per official statistics issued by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority).
In order to keep this cargo on the move the United Kingdom Airports and Freight Carriers have specific requirements for a variety of castors. Castors are required for equipment such as freight containers, cargo handling trolleys, baggage dollies, heavy duty pallets, cargo cages, roller ball decks and ground support equipment. Castors moving freight in airports, similar to docks, have to withstand a variety of harsh environments and wear and tear. These well travelled castors, moving the cargo, are required to resist extremes of weather that the British climate can throw at them. Castors also may have to with stand freezing temperatures in cold stores. For example when moving frozen or chilled freight. Also replacement airport castors must be able to pack a punch and withstand extremely heavy loads.
East Midlands Airport plans to quadruple freight and cargo volumes by 2016 and therefore increase the use and dependence upon, good quality castors for moving the cargo around the airport. For containers the Flexello heavy duty tapered roller bearing castors are hard to beat. These heavy duty castors designed specifically for containers are available with either a polyurethane tyre, with a cast iron centre, rubber tyre or simply just with cast iron wheels. The load bearings of these heavy weight container castors can be from one and a half tonnes each up to seven tonnes each. With heavy gauge forged steel castor housings and forged steel swivel heads, suitable for most containers, these castors provide a heavy weight solution.
From the heavyweight 7 tonnes castors there are a variety of options for freight handling with lower load bearing capabilities. For example dolly carts and cargo handling trolleys tend to utilise a variety of polyurethane and nylon tyred castors. Both these materials are extremely strong and hard wearing and will withstand not only extremes of temperature, but also heavy wear and tear. Nylon and polyurethane castors can withstand heavy loads varying from one hundred kilogram’s up to well over one and a half tonnes. Both polyurethane and nylon tyred castors are able to withstand freezing temperature down to minus 40 degrees centigrade. This cold temperature resistance makes them particularly suitable for external environments such as Airports. Replacement castors for freight handling and cargo trolleys often provide a more economic solution, rather than replacing the whole trolley. With Global freight volumes of over 80 million tonnes, at any one time, somewhere in the world, castors are keeping cargo and freight moving!