Morello HEAVY DUTY PLATFORM CARTS V Air Cushion Solutions

Posted on January 1, 2021

Being experts in heavy material handling technology we offer customized solutions that best suit clients’ needs and reflects modern trends on material handling market.

Transport and positioning equipment along with heavy duty platform carts represent main solutions for industrial material handling. Morello is a leading manufacturer of heavy duty industrial transfer carts and is highly specialized in moving heavy loads of up to 1000 tons in-plant, both indoors and outdoors.


Our clients frequently ask to compare and evaluate various technologies for heavy material handling including wheel-based platform carts against air caster technology, or air cushion systems. 

An air caster is a pneumatic lifting device used to move heavy loads on flat, non-porous surfaces. Air caster operates similar to a hovercraft, as they use a thin layer of air as a way to float a very small distance off the ground. As with any commercial technology there are situations where this technology can provide benefits. However, in industrial plant environments there are also many scenarios where air casters are not 100% suitable.


Selecting the most suitable heavy material handling technology for your plant several factors should be considered: productivity and efficiency, plant environment, safety and security, cost, waste and space utilization, energy consumption, distance to name a few.

Over the years Morello has manufactured and supplied heavy duty platform carts to companies who were experiencing problems with an existing air caster vehicle and resolved these issues by moving to a wheel-based vehicle. Let’s have a look at some of the issues they were experiencing.

Air casters versus wheel-based solutions

The air caster or air cushion solution is effectively a suspended weight with the load floating on a film of air above the floor surface. Here machine or power supply failures provide risks for both equipment and people, like in seismic zones. Heavy duty industrial transfer carts on wheels are supported by its solid steel structure.

Air casters require a perfect floor surface to operate on. Any defect in the floor surface creates the risk of interrupting the airflow, this can cause the air cushion to dissipate and thus lose lift. Despite developments in the technology air casters require a smooth, non-porous surface in order to maintain lift and operate effectively. In industrial material handling air casters are often just not suitable.

Usage of compressed air implies that the movement of an air caster vehicle around a plant is limited to the availability and length of the compressed air hose. Air casters are suitable for moving loads in very short limited distances and are much less flexible compared to a wheel-based vehicle also because of high energy consume meaning the system cannot be powered by a battery.

Floating system of air caster is not compatible with floor slopes causing navigation problems. Floor traction and grip is much lower than heavy duty platform carts on wheels creating problems to control the load. The system is less secure and safe if the floor is not perfectly flat.

Where an air caster system is operating plant flooring must be maintained for the reasons mentioned above.

Heavy material handling technologies applied by Morello are designed for both indoor and outdoor use. Air casters just do not perform effectively on asphalt or other rough outdoor surfaces.

Considering air cushion technology issues, obstacles en route can cause big problems. While wheel-based carts can roll over small objects the air casters route must be kept clear.

One more weak pointof an air caster is its braking system. Heavy duty industrial transfer carts may have a braking system individually on all wheels. An air caster vehicle may have one or two wheels in contact with the ground for steering and braking. The result is that air caster movement must be relatively much slower than a wheel-based vehicle as well as believe that a weaker braking system has no technical faults.

The limitations of an air caster vehicle mean that there is much less flexibility when it comes to future plant developments. If at some time in the future the operations of a plant are modified an existing air caster vehicle may have problems operating within the new layout. Distance, floor conditions, compressed air availability, indoors v outdoors are all limiting factors to be considered which do not apply to a heavy duty platform cart.

In a perfect environment, performing only short distances, air casters can be a cost-effective solution. Morello has been called upon on various occasions to resolve operational issues which were being caused by air cushion technology. The range of heavy material handling technology is vast and Morello customized solutions can be tailored from best practice cases to unique scenarios in industrial material handling.

Contact our Expert Team of Amedeo Morello, Luca Tibaldi, Stefano Rizzo to explore all benefits of Morello solutions.