4 Loads That Are Perfect for the Flatbed Trailer Side Kit

The flatbed trailer side kit is one of those products truckers are not sure if they really need. Technically speaking, a side kit is really not necessary to make a living as a flatbed trucker. But owning one does increase your job opportunities. Some shippers expect their loads to be secured in specific ways, and sometimes that means using a side kit.

If you are new to the flatbed game, a side kit is essentially an on-demand enclosure that can completely cover a load from top to bottom much the same way a dry van does. The advantage of the side kit is that it can be installed and removed as needed. Use it when you need it; keep it stored when you don’t.

Here are four kinds of loads that are perfect for the side kit:

1. Loose Agricultural Products

Agricultural products that will not be damaged under their own weight usually don’t have to be pack too carefully for transport. All the truck driver really needs to do is protect the crop against moisture, sunlight, and road debris. The side kit is perfect for this. We are talking about crops like corn, watermelon, and soybeans, by the way.

Along those same lines, there are agricultural products normally transported in crates that can also be handled with a flatbed and side kit. The advantage of the side kit is that the product can be loaded directly onto the trailer without first having to create it. A side kit makes the job faster and more efficient.

2. Industrial Machinery

The majority of flatbed truckers transport industrial machinery just by securing it in place and throwing tarps over it. But as you may already know, industrial machinery comes in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes that do not necessarily make standard tarping easy. Some pieces can be downright impossible to keep completely covered just with tarps alone.

A side kit completely encloses already secured machinery. There are no worries of tarps flying off en route. There are no concerns over damaging tarps on sharp edges. There is no need to use edge protectors and other peripheral equipment normally used in the tarping process.

3. Weather-Sensitive Loads

As wonderful as truck tarps are, they cannot always keep out the weather entirely. Loads extra sensitive to precipitation and sun might be better off enclosed by a side kit rather than covered only in tarps. Loads could be anything from designer building materials to sensitive manufacturing equipment. If there is a need to take special precautions against moisture and sun, a side kit is usually a better option than tarps alone.

4. Wind-Sensitive Loads

Similar to weather sensitive loads are those sensitive to the wind. We are talking about loads that are unusually light, loads that can easily be tossed about at highway speeds if wind were allowed to get underneath them. It might be a lot easier in such cases for the truck driver to install a side kit rather than having to go to great lengths to make sure there is no possibility of wind getting between tarp and load.

Side kits do take some time to install and remove, so they are not ideal for every job. But some jobs require an extra level of protection that tarps alone do not offer. These are the kinds of jobs that are ideal for side kits. If you are a flatbed trucker and you do not own one, now is the time to get one. A side kit will give you more opportunities to find work and make money.


3 Specialized Tarps and Their Uses

We sell a lot of different kinds of tarps here at Mytee Products. Most of our inventory centers around the trucking industry and its needs, but we also sell a number of other tarps for general utilitarian purposes. We have recently expanded our inventory, and with that have the opportunity to explain the uses of specialized tarps that are vital for the areas they service.

Three of the specialty tarps we now offer are described in this post. Mytee Products is the source for all kinds of tarps, whether you are a trucker or a homeowner in need of something more than you can get at your DIY home improvement store.

Bee Hauling Tarps

The first specialized tarp on our list is the bee hauling tarp. It is also known as a nursery tarp in some circles, but we focus on bee hauling given that our target customers are flatbed truckers. What makes this tarp so special is its breathability. A trucker can cover a load of beehives with one of these tarps in order to make sure none of the critters escapes during transport. At the same time, moisture and air flow freely between tarp and load.

A bee hauling tarp is designed a lot like a lumbar tarp in terms of its shape. It has an elongated top, two side panels, and a rear panel to close up the back of the load. When used in concert with a bulkhead, the tarp completely encloses the hives so that bees do not escape.

As a side note, these are great tarps for transporting nursery products as well. From larger plants to shrubs and small trees, they benefit from the same moisture and air flow bee hauling requires.

Demolition Tarps

The second tarp on our list is not necessarily for truckers only. It is the demolition tarp. It is made of heavy-duty, 18-ounce vinyl and includes polyester webbing and eight reinforced lifting points complete with O-rings. If you haven’t figured it out yet, these tarps are designed for construction projects. However, we are talking demolition rather than material protection.

Lay out one of these tarps prior to demolition and you have an instant debris removal system. Just pile the debris on top of the tarp. When it’s full, connect it to a lifting system via the built-in O-rings. All the trash is gathered together as the tarp is lifted and placed on the back of a waste truck or into a dumpster.

Parachute Tarps

Finally, our third specialized tarp is known as the parachute tarp. It can be used for a variety of loads in the same way steel and lumber tarps are used. The advantage of this tarp is its extremely low weight. The parachute tarp can be up to 40% lighter than comparable vinyl tarps. Equally impressive is the fact that the parachute material is tougher than vinyl.

These tarps are ideal for flatbed loads that are difficult to cover without walking on top. Their lighter weight can eliminate the need to climb up in some cases. And because the material is tougher than vinyl, there are fewer worries about rips and tears. Parachute fabric is just a better choice for some loads.

Mytee Products has every kind of tarp you will ever need. From truck tarps to the utility tarps you might use at home, we have them all. We invite you to take a look at our inventory; we probably have just what you need. And if not, please contact us anyway. We still might be able to find what you are looking for.


The 9 Components of the FMCSA Cargo Securement System

It is common for truck drivers new to the flatbed game to wonder whether the use of bulkheads is required by law or not. In short, it’s not. But there is a lot more to cargo control than that. The federal government lays out a very strict set of rules defining how cargo is to be secured and controlled. Bulkhead deployment is just one small part.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes its rules in a document known as the Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement. It can be downloaded from the agency’s website free of charge. Section 2 of the rules describes the ‘Components of the Securement System’ as defined by the FMCSA. There are nine components to consider:

1. Floors

The assumption here is that the floors referred to in the rules relate to the decking on a trailer. Dry vans, reefers, and straight flatbeds have a single level and, as such, completely flat decks. Step deck trailers are a different matter. You can have two or three different levels depending on design. At any rate, floors play a crucial part in cargo control by providing a certain amount of friction wherever the load comes in contact with flooring.

2. Walls

This component only comes into play for flatbed truckers when side kits are used. A side kit offers temporary walls that can help contain cargo that would otherwise be difficult to control. Obviously, dry goods vans and reefer trailers have the benefit of full enclosure.

3. Decks

This can apply to either the multiple decks of a step-deck trailer or the dual decks of an auto hauler. Decks are similar to floors in terms of their usefulness for cargo control.

4. Tiedown Anchor Points

Tiedown anchor points available for securing cargo are perhaps the most critical component of a cargo control system. Truckers use those anchor points with chains, webbing straps, and bungees. In a dry van or reefer setting, tiedown points are usually mounted on the walls.

5. Headboards

A headboard is the equivalent of a bulkhead on a straight truck – flatbed or box. It prevents the cab of the truck from being breached by shifting cargo in the event such cargo moves forward.

6. Bulkheads

The bulkhead is that forward barrier on the front of a flatbed trailer. In the absence of a bulkhead, flatbed operators have to use extra straps to keep cargo from moving.

7. Stakes

Stakes are anchor points attached to the floor of a trailer or straight truck. They can be used in a number of ways with straps, chains, and blocks.

8. Posts

Posts protrude from a flatbed trailer frame along its perimeter. Posts are an important part of the side kit in that they provide both stability for walls and extra anchor points for cargo control.

9. Anchor Points

The term ‘anchor points’ is more of a generic term encompassing every kind of anchor point on a truck or trailer. Cargo is connected to anchor points by way of chains and straps. The more anchor points, the better.

All of this is probably elementary to you if you are an experienced truck driver. However, a helpful reminder every now and again is not a bad thing. In the arena of cargo control, knowing what you’re doing means all the difference in the world to both safety and legal compliance.

We recommend you download the FMCSA rulebook and keep it handy. You never know when you might have a cargo control question that doesn’t have a quick and easy answer.

 


Don’t Ignore the Fundamentals of Loading Ramp Use

The Drive’s Max Goldberg put together a great piece in April of 2017 detailing the hazards of loading cars onto trailers incorrectly. His post was both informative and amusing at the same time. It included a series of YouTube videos that show just what can go wrong if you attempt to load a flatbed trailer without knowing exactly what you’re doing.

In fairness, each of the videos appears to show amateurs who don’t do this for a living. But even professionals can learn a thing or two by watching. Needless to say that driving a vehicle up a set of trailer-loading ramps and onto the deck is not as easy as it looks. The laws of physics offer too many possibilities for things to go wrong.

Secure Your Truck and Trailer First

One of the videos in Goldberg’s post shows two men attempting to load a pickup truck full of used tires onto the back of a trailer hooked to a second pickup. The spotter sizes things up before speaking to the driver of the tire-filled truck. It is not until the driver begins moving forward that trouble ensues.

Apparently, the spotter failed to secure the other truck and trailer. As soon as the tire-filled truck began moving up the trailer loading ramps, the entire rig started moving forward. It eventually jackknifed and pinned the second truck to a light post.

The obvious lesson here is to make sure your truck and trailer are secured before you begin loading. That means engine off, brakes applied, and blocks in place. The last thing you need is for your rig to shift while your loading ramps are engaged with a full load.

Always Load on Level Ground

Another video depicts someone attempting to load a pickup truck on a surface that isn’t level. The loading ramps appear to have a hinge that allows them to be positioned at different angles for just this purpose. But that doesn’t make them safe. As the truck begins making its way up the ramps, the front axle passes over the hinge and that’s the end of it. The rear end of the ramps kick up and dig into the frame of the truck.

Loading on a level surface is a no-brainer. Loading ramps are only as sturdy as they can be on level ground. Loading on a surface that isn’t level is tempting fate, as that pickup truck driver discovered.

Use Spotters and Hand Signals

A couple of the videos clearly show that using more spotters would have been helpful. Along with those spotters go hand signals that allow them to communicate with the driver without speaking. This is something experienced flatbed drivers are intimately familiar with. The more spotters, the safer the loading process.

Secure Those Loading Ramps

Finally, one of the videos depicts someone attempting to load a car into the back of a dry van. We assume this was a household move. At any rate, the car makes it about three-quarters of the way up the ramps before stopping for a brief second. The driver then accelerates, causing the rear wheels to kick the loading ramps out. Now the car is hanging off the back of the trailer.

What can we learn from this video? That trailer loading ramps should always be firmly and securely affixed before loading begins. Loading ramps built for flatbed trailers come with pins for this very reason. You should never attempt to run a load up a set of ramps if those ramps are not firmly secured in place.

 


Tow Operators Have to Be Ready for Anything

What does a typical day for you look like? If you are a tow operator, there is no such thing as a typical day. Between cars that will not start, and heavily-damaged vehicles involved in accidents, you have to be ready for just about anything. Even a truck spilling a load of potatoes on the highway is not out of the question.

Those of us who don’t work in the towing and recovery industry tend to think of towing as little more than recovering cars with dead batteries or faulty starters. We may give a slight nod to recovering cars off the side of the interstate following an accident, but most of us have never given any thought to recoveries involving tractor trailers, construction equipment, or dozens of mangled vehicles involved in a multi-vehicle collision during the middle of winter.

To do their jobs right, tow operators need a virtual library of knowledge accompanied by practical experience and the right tools. We can help where the tools are concerned. Mytee Products offers a full catalog of products ranging from towing chains and hooks to hauling straps and emergency towing lights.

The Right Equipment for Those Big Jobs

We hear plenty of stories from tow operators who visit our showroom in need of a few towing supplies. Many of those stories involve pretty big operations requiring multiple tow trucks and drivers. The big jobs are some of the most dangerous that tow operators work on.

For example, the potato truck referenced at the start of this article wasn’t made up. The accident really occurred just outside of Aiken, South Carolina. News reports say a local driver ran a red light and proceeded to collide with an 18-wheeler. The impact sent the semi into a ditch, its load of potatoes emptying out onto the highway.

Potatoes strewn everywhere was not the big issue for the towing company that responded. The spuds could easily have been cleaned up and taken away. No, the real problem was getting the trailer out of the ditch. A photograph of the accident scene shows a rather large tow truck with a hydraulic beam and winch attempting to pull the trailer back onto the roadway.

These kinds of jobs require specialized equipment. For example, it would be inappropriate to hook a chain between the tow truck and trailer in an attempt to drag the trailer back onto the road. The heavy-duty winch and steel cable capable of moving the trailer while the tow truck remained stationary was the safest way to extract the damaged trailer.

Operators Need a Variety of Tools

One of the most important lessons we’ve learned over the years of serving the industry is that tow truck operators need a variety of tools to do what they do. It’s not enough just to have a small selection of towing straps and chains on board. Operators need a full arsenal of weapons, so to speak, if they are truly going to be prepared for anything.

An easy job might be as simple as hooking a broken-down car underneath its front axle and using wheel nets and a chain to keep everything in place. A more complicated job might require a combination of steel winch cable, a couple of heavy-duty chains and hooks, and even a snatch block or two. The tow operator never really knows until he or she arrives on-site.

No, there is no such thing as a typical day for tow operators. They need to be prepared for anything and everything. That means having the right tools on board.