Members of the Institute of Caster and Wheel Manufacturers (ICWM) were deemed essential during the COVID-19 pandemic—and for good reason.
“Members of our group are very instrumental in the retail, material handling and medical industries, and activity within each increased during the pandemic—which was why caster and wheel manufacturers were deemed essential during the COVID-19 shutdowns,” said Alvar Diaz, vice president of sales and marketing at MHI member P&H Casters Co. Inc. in Texas and chair of ICWM’s Marketing Committee.
Big box stores for groceries and home improvement needs had an increased demand for carts for both customers and backroom, Diaz said. As the shift for online shopping occurred, the demand for mobile carts increased for logistic hubs and other material handling applications, as well. “The result was that most of our members experienced an increase in demand for casters and wheels,” Diaz said.
While some industries slowed down due to the pandemic, such as aerospace and automotive, many industries like medical, air cargo and warehouse distribution “grew exponentially,” making caster and wheel manufacturing and supply an essential industry, said Scott Fisher, director of transportation for the aviation, automotive and marine vertical markets at MHI member Colson Group and ICWM’s vice president.
“Hospitals were in need of more equipment, like mobile intravenous (IV) stands, medical carts and even emergency hospital beds that they had to put in tents outside to meet the needs of increasing COVID-19 patients,” Diaz said.
“Throughout the pandemic, ventilators grew at a rate of 172%, requiring a quick shift and focus in light duty and medical caster production,” Fisher said. “As almost everything in a hospital is on casters, the overall medical caster industry demand for casters was huge.”
The air cargo transport business also drastically increased due not only to e-commerce shopping for needed home supplies as a safe method of shopping, but also due to the global need for medical masks and protective wear for medical professionals, he said. As a result, there was a significant increase in demand for air cargo casters, as well as casters and wheels for aviation ground support.