CMU School of Drama

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Penn Elcom Launches Game-Changing Automatic Castors

Techie Talk: Penn Elcom Online launches a truly revolutionary new product – Automatic Castors – a neat and ingenious product … for which the flight case making sector has been waiting for years!
This is also a game changer for the brand that is renowned worldwide in the entertainment, leisure and production industry, for its flightcase components, and is available via Penn Elcom’s global online sales portal which went live earlier in the year and is proving a huge success.


Chris Norville said...

Casters that lock themselves into a particular position when they don’t have weight on them, really? First, I want to know if they lock themselves into the right position for dropping into the receiving holes in the top of the other road case, if they don’t, and just lock into whatever position they were in, that is worse than useless. This is not a revolutionary product. As far as I can tell, the only use of these caters is that they relive a minor annoyance for when you need to stack road cases. I wish I only had the kind of problems that were solved by self locking casters that probably just freeze up when you put too much weight on them. It is not so much interesting to me that a product so useless has been developed, it is more interesting that a useless product had been developed for the entertainment industry.

jcmertz said...

I disagree with Chris on this one big time. First off, the article says that they move back to their "straight" position and lock there, therefore assuming the case was built correctly they would always line up with the pockets on a case they were meant to stack with. Fixing casters wheels when stacking cases is more than a minor annoyance when it is done on the scale of many dozens of cases. First, it is a huge waste of time, particularly if the wheels get into their worst case positions before stacking. On a tour loadout where every minute costs hundreds of dollars in labor, saving this time alone would pay for the casters. Secondly, and more importantly, manually adjusting casters to line up with their pockets is a serious safety concern. Hand injuries are very easy to get from pinching and crushing, and can be quite devastating, not to mention the fact that a caster suddenly shifting into its pocket can be unexpected while your hand is in there. On top of this, with heavy cases their is a risk of the top case falling back down to very ugly results if the casters miss their pockets entirely and roll off. Finally, a lot of ergonomic hazards can be eliminated if bending, stooping, and awkward lifting can be removed from the case stacking process, which would definitely occur if these casters were common place.

Ben McCormack said...

Though these casters are nifty and cool, Joe made a great point that these casters have to be installed correctly for this to actually be beneficial. Without the accurate positioning of the caster upon installation this would be a fruitless effort. One would assume that there is some type of indicator or mark on the caster base so you know which way the caster will face when it locks into its straight position.

Additionally, Chris also made an interesting point about this seemingly non essential development being created in the entertainment industry. It begs many questions about how our industry conducts RnD for minor design improvements to things like road case casters. Is there an application befitting to this outside of the road case realm? Could the RnD energy and resources have been spent on something more revolutionary or impactful?

Scott MacDonald said...

I think I’m with the skeptics on this one… like sure – it sounds great, but I’ll believe it when I see it. If these casters do truly lock in a way that makes stacking cases easier, I’m all for it. But regular casters get messed up / mucked up / jammed up often enough that I would hope that these things would be made pretty bullet proof. The design seems simple enough, and I can understand how these things work. But Joe makes a good point – for these to actually be useful they have to be installed in the right spot! I think Chris and Ben also make an interesting point – theatre and entertainment industries have historically adopted technologies (but this of course has decreased significantly with time) so seeing something as particular as a caster getting this much attention definitely says something about the industry. On another note, did anyone else think this article read a bit like an infomercial?

Daniel Silverman said...

These castors seem like a great idea, but I’m not sure how much of a game changer they are. From the videos, it just seems like the casters are not on their center of mass so when you lift up, they automatically rotate to their proper alignment. Of course this now means that orientation of the mounting plate matters. I see this being great for staking and loading, but not for much else. I don’t see these casters being very useful on stage. The automatic alignment, according to the article, only works when the casters are lifted or when there is no load on them. This means that for wagons, the automatic alignment won’t do anything because the load of the wagon is always there and you certainly wouldn’t want to lift them. I would love to experiment with them, but I would have to see how much they cost.

Claire Krueger said...

As a 5’2” female with -3 armspan I don't do well at lifting. However it doesn't mean I can't do it. The struggle of moving object usual results in smushed feet and jammed fingers. The automated castors totally would revolutionise my experience. The box would be just as big and I would still be just as small but not having to reach under and correct the castors during the set down would significantly reduce my rate of bleeding fingers.

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