When looking at moving heavy loads, many factors play into selecting the best equipment for the job. Everything from what type of floor surface you have available, whether there is enough structural support to handle point loading or if the load requires a wider spread to protect the floor surface or if there are any obstacles that may prevent safe or smooth movement of the load.
With intricacies on each option, floor prep is one of the most important aspects to consider when making your final selection. Traditional tank rollers are limited to a linear movement and require additional equipment and prep to turn a corner so there are other options available to aid on these kinds of projects. For methods that allow for rotation require an additional check to make sure there is no incline or decline to the floor that would cause the load to move in an uncontrolled manner.
Looking at the various coefficients of friction, the weight of the load may play a part in making that decision. Loads relying simply on friction can range anywhere from 10 to 65 percent of the total weight of the load to get a load in motion whereas a load on wheels requires only five percent. That means to move a 10,000-pound load, friction would require 1,000-6,500 pounds of force versus only 500 pounds on wheels.
Now consider that same load with air skates. With a coefficient of less than one percent, air skates can move the same load with only 100 pounds of force. The caveat, however, is that you need additional equipment in the form of an adequate air compressor and hoses. Additionally, the floor surface must be prepped to create a smooth surface devoid of any sizable gaps or depressions so the skate can maintain the pocket of air required to keep the load stable. In short, it should be prepared to be as smooth and level as game 7 ice of the Stanley Cup Finals.
So, when is the right time to use air skates? The simple answer is any time the floor conditions are amenable to maintaining proper air pressure on the floor. Air skates provide for 360-degrees of rotation, the easiest method of controlling the load and the lowest force requirement for pushing or pulling the load into place. They also require the least amount of ground clearance of any skate type equipment. For the reasons stated above, however, it is best to have someone that is familiar with the operation of air skates to ensure a smooth move.
In situations where you encounter low clearance, tight turns or the facility requires that whatever method is used to move the equipment leaves no marks on the floor surface, air skates may be the best option available.
If you would like to learn more about using air skates, please watch our informational video below on the use of air skates. In this video, you will get to see the system being set up as well as to see a live application of a 50,000-pound system and how it can help you on your lifts.