Lifting of heavy objects using compressed air is made possible by Air Casters. The object so lifted floats above the floor allowing it to be maneuvered easily – you can push & turn it without actually doing the heavy lifting. The low friction that the compressed air creates makes it easy for one worker move about two tonnes of an equipment singlehandedly.
An air caster does away with the need of a crane, a fork lift and the operators in cases where some minor assembly line operation needs to be done. A worker with access to an air caster will do the job with much lesser effort saving the company the precious downtime.
Air casters do not need long stretches of conveyor belting to operate, thus saving on factory real estate! Air casters allow rotation of the object as well. Therefore, the worker can have 360 degrees view of the object in question. Of course, air casters, because of the way they are built/behave, do not cause any damage to the factory floor, unlike the cranes and fork lifts.
The workers are happy with air casters since they offer the maximum safety – worker accidents are avoided in the system since the heavy objects are not suspended and are therefore the danger of them falling and crushing the bones (!) is ruled out. And air casters are easy to use.
Are they costly? No. Air caster system is not very expensive to install in a factory – in comparison having conveyor belts or railing systems or fork lifts or cranes is lot more expensive. For your reference, a crane will possibly cost about 8-9 times of installing air casters.
You may come across air casters being also referred to as air pads, air skates, air skids and air bearings but are designed for the same purpose and the underlying principle is the same as well.
In all, air casters with low acquisition cost, low operational costs, low training costs, low manpower costs, low downtime are very high on return on investment.