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Learn: 3 vs 4 Machine Skate Systems

Introduction to Machine Skates

Placing four skates at each corner of the heavy load seems like the most logical thing to do, but there is a problem with this mode of transport.

If you are traveling over an uneven surface, your load will rock just like a 4-legged chair on uneven ground.

When a load rocks on machine skates that are not attached directly to it, the weight of the load is lifted off one dolly and it slips out. This can cause the load to plummet to the floor. Aside from causing damage to the load, such a problem could cause an operator to get hurt.

Loads almost never travel over perfectly level surfaces; floors slant towards drains, concrete is almost always full of cracks, and there are often ledges to overcome.

Imagine a 3-legged chair; when it's placed on uneven ground, the chair will not rock.

Setting your load on three machine skates will have the same effect: the load can't rock. Its weight has been evenly distributed, pressing down onto the skates at all times and thus keeping the machine skates firmly in place.

Once your load is on three machine skates, you can travel over uneven surfaces and not worry about the machine skates slipping - even under pulling and tugging action. This is why we recommend using a 3-point dolly support.

Our standard machine skate configurations consist of 3 machine skates in order to provide support on 3 points. This configuration is the most versatile and the safest.

However, not every application allows for a 3-point support, such as loads with C-channels, U-channels, or an uneven distribution of weight. That is why our machine skates are interchangeable. You can mix and match our machine skates to any configuration, depending on your heavy load moving application.

Use machine skates with rotating dollies, directional dollies, tandem dollies, container dollies, air-powered machine skates and battery-powered machine skates.


You may have to use a 4-point system if your load sits on four legs or I-beams. In this case, please be aware that weight may be lifted off one or more skates when the load rocks on uneven ground. In this circumstance, it's best to monitor all four corners at each step of the moving process.

Remember that the weight of the load should be divided between the front and the back end on longer loads. If a load is 20 tons total, then the front would weigh 10 tons and the back would weigh 10 tons.

If the equipment / load is able to rock on an uneven surface and part of the load separates from a machine skate, the weight of the load is then carried by the remaining skates. Make sure you have enough safety capacity on all machine skate carts to carry the extra weight. For example, let's say you have a 20-ton load that is square and sits on four 5-ton capacity skates. If, in the course of moving, the carts hit an uneven spot and one of the machine skates comes out from under the load, then the remaining three skates will have a 15-ton safety capacity together, but they will be carrying 20 tons.

We carry three different machine skate types:

  1. Our heavy load machine skates are the most versatile, giving you maneuverability that's similar to that of a car: the front steers and the rear follows in a straight line.
  2. The rotating dolly provides 360-degree maneuverability for loads in confined spaces. They are omni-directional. These dollies are more expensive due to their advanced technology.
  3. Our tandem machine skates are designed for special applications such as side-heavy loads or for added maneuverability on the back end of the load. Tandem skates are a four-point system with a steering handle.

Products distributed by Toolwell North America. Each product is made in Germany by JUNG.