Why Vehicle Inspectors Practice What They Do

Truck drivers across North America were subject to the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Roadcheck inspections back in June (2018). You know exactly what we are talking about if you drive a truck for a living. But did you know that inspectors actually practice what they do? They do it to be better at what they do, though some practice in order to compete.

There’s a lot more that goes into truck inspections than meets the eye. In terms of cargo control, truck drivers are all-too-familiar with inspectors checking everything from the number of tie-downs to the actual physical condition of webbing straps and chains. They check hooks, winches, anchor points, bungee straps, and even whether truck tarps are secured well enough to keep them in place.

Inspectors also check the physical condition of the trucks they are looking at. They check everything from tires to breaks and operating lights. And of course, don’t forget hours of service rules and the new ELD mandate. They are looking for anything that could pose a danger on the road – no matter how minor.

Training to Compete

A large number of truck inspectors gathered in Columbus, Ohio this past summer to participate in the CVSA’s North American Inspectors Championship. According to news reports, there were more than four dozen inspectors representing the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, all competing by way of a written test and hands-on demonstrations.

They were competing alongside truckers involved in the National Truck Driving Championships. While truckers were practicing everything from cargo control to turning and backing, inspectors were practicing all the steps that go into doing what they do. When it was time for the competition to commence, both drivers and inspectors hoped to be at the tops of their game.

A truck driver uses chains and straps to securely tie down a load. Drivers practice load tie-down in order to increase their efficiency in the real world of work. The more efficient they are at cargo control, the more time they have to keep the wheels rolling. It is just common sense.

Inspectors are in a similar situation. They practice the skills necessary to conduct complete inspections that are simultaneously efficient. The more trucks they can get in and out of inspection stations, the more they can look at in a given day. This keeps the trucks moving and the roads safe.

Knowing the Regulations and Physics

For both trucker and inspector, the key to success is knowing the regulations and physics of cargo control. Federal law, at least in the U.S. and Canada, is very specific in detailing how truck drivers are supposed to secure cargo to their trailers. One look at the FMCSA’s trucker handbook says it all.

Truckers need to be familiar with the rules so that they maintain compliance. They also need to be familiar with physics. Why? So that they can deploy their cargo control materials in the right way. No webbing strap or chain will do its job if it is not deployed properly.

As for inspectors, they need to have that same knowledge of regulations and physics. It is their job to make sure truckers are complying. If they don’t know what’s going on, they cannot possibly do their jobs.

Truck drivers, you now know that those inspectors you deal with all the time practice what they do. They not only practice to compete, but also to make sure they always operate at the highest possible level. It’s probably not a good idea to put them to the test. They know what they’re doing.

 


The Snow Is Coming – Stock Your Tow Trucks Now

An interesting series of events occurred in St. Paul, Minnesota in the spring of 2018. The region was subject to its sixth snow emergency of the season thanks to a whopper that descended on the Twin Cities in mid-April. What happened on the city’s streets over the weekend of April 14 serves as a reminder to tow operators that snow is coming and it might be a lot of it. So, get your trucks stocked with towing supplies now.

Towing vehicles during snow emergencies is standard operating procedure for most major cities. It just makes sense. Snow plows cannot clear the roads effectively if they are littered with cars. Moreover, plows traveling down the street will block in any cars that are not moved. Cities tow for both the benefit of plow operators and car owners alike.

You Will Be Called On

What happened in St. Paul may have been unusual, but that doesn’t change the fact that tow truck operators across the country will be called on this winter to clear streets during snow emergencies. It is part and parcel of the towing game in urban environments. The only question that remains now is whether tow operators are prepared for the coming workload.

Mytee Products cannot help with driver training, truck maintenance, insurance issues, etc. But we do stock an entire inventory of towing supplies. We are here to help you make sure your truck is fully stocked in advance of the coming winter. And if your company owns multiple trucks, you can buy all your supplies from us.

Be sure to check your inventory of towing straps. Not only should you have an ample number, but each of your straps should be in good working order as well. Check towing straps for wear and tear and broken buckles or hooks. Check your towing chains as well. Towing chains can rust over the summer months while in storage, so give each chain the once over.

Don’t Forget the Lighting

We encourage tow operators to also pay attention to lighting. In most states and local municipalities, tow trucks are required to be equipped with some sort of lighting to designate when the truck is engaged. For most tow truck operators, that means amber dome lights or light bars mounted to the roof of the truck.

If your state or local municipality also requires temporary lights attached to the towed vehicle, we have those too. Temporary lights are fixed to the towed vehicle by way of powerful magnets. They are also connected by cable to the truck’s electrical system so that they work in sync with the truck’s break lights, tail lights, and turn signals.

Winter is coming, and it is coming fast. That’s good news if you’re a tow operator who relies on the extra business of the season to boost revenues. Just don’t be caught off guard. Make sure your truck is fully stocked before the first snow emergency is declared in your local area.

 


Horse Owners Are Picky About Hay Moisture Too

Hay stored by growers this winter will be used to feed both cattle and horses alike. Often times, discussions surrounding hay moisture levels are focused squarely on cattle and their needs. And yet horses are also affected by moisture levels. Suffice it to say that horse owners are picky about the hay they purchase.

Numerous factors ranging from moisture levels to storage practices can affect the quality, nutritional value, and safety of stored hay. Where horses are concerned, there are a number of molds that can be problematic. Here is just a short sampling of four of them:

Aspergillus – A health condition associated with this kind of mold can be quite harmful to older horses, younger horses, and animals with compromised immune systems. The spores of the aspergillus mold get into the lungs before spreading to other parts of the body. They can affect the heart, kidneys, blood, skin, and eyes.

Fusarium – The fusarium mold can cause respiratory distress and colic. More importantly, the mold can produce mycotoxins that could present acute problems for horses. This is a mold that horse owners definitely want to avoid.

Penicillium – The penicillium mold is the same mold from which we derive penicillin. It is also what produces blue cheese. Unfortunately, the mycotoxins it produces can be very problematic for horses. They can cause allergic reactions including irritation to the lungs, skin, and digestive tract.

Rhizopus – This mold is actually pretty common. It is responsible for bread mold, among other things. It can cause respiratory and digestive tract infections in horses.

Preventing Mold Growth in Hay

The best way to stop mold from growing in hay stores is to control both moisture and storage environments. We will begin with moisture levels. Experts recommend that hay intended for horses be harvested somewhere between 12% and 14%. Slightly lower is okay too. Once harvested, growers should be using electronic moisture testers to check on moisture levels on a regular basis.

Properly stored hay is easier to handle in terms of maintaining moisture levels. Hay should be stored in a dry, well ventilated area with plenty of room between bales for air to circulate. Bales should be kept away from direct contact with the ground. Mytee Products offers a number of effective storage solutions ranging from hay tarps to temporary storage structures.

Inspecting Hay Prior to Feeding

Growers can do all the right things to guarantee good moisture levels and proper hay storage and yet still have trouble. Buyers can cause their own troubles by not storing hay properly. In either case, experts recommend that horse owners thoroughly inspect hay before feeding it to their animals.

Owners should be breaking open baled hay and checking for mold growth inside. It is possible for bales to look completely fine on the outside but still be riddled with mold internally. They should also be smelling their hay prior to feeding. Odors can go a long way toward determining whether mold is present or not.

Hay that does not smell right is probably suspect. Experts recommend paying attention to a dusty or musty smell. Any such smell is sufficient evidence to suggest that hay could make a horse sick.

It is that time of year again when horse owners start looking for the hay that will feed their animals through spring. Smart growers will protect both their sales and their crops by maintaining proper moisture levels and in adhering to solid hay storage practices. If you are a grower in need of a moisture tester or storage solutions, Mytee Products has what you need.


Know Your Tow Equipment and How to Use It

America has a lot of unsung heroes who really don’t get the recognition due to them. Among them are tow truck operators who risk their lives every day to recover broken down vehicles. We appreciate the efforts of these towing professionals , which is a primary reason for our decision to stock tow truck supplies including chains, hooks, winches, and towing straps.

This is the time of year we start hearing some of the wildest and craziest stories from tow operators. The later we get in a year, the wilder and crazier those stories will become. You see, winter weather makes already dangerous conditions absolutely treacherous for roadside recoveries. Any tow truck operator who has worked a winter on snow and ice-covered roads can tell stories that would make your hair stand on end.

We say all of that to say this: it is absolutely vital for tow operators to make sure they have all the right equipment on board to safely recover broken-down vehicles. But it is also critically important that operators know how to use that equipment the right way. A little knowledge goes a long way toward both effective and fast vehicle recovery.

Get In, Hook Up, Get Out

It is obviously necessary for tow operators to properly secure recovered vehicles with chains and straps before departing. To that end, rushing through a recovery job is not a good idea. But at the same time, a tow operator wants to get in, hook up, and get out as quickly as possible. Lingering for too long is an open invitation to trouble.

Knowing how to use towing equipment the right way increases both safety and speed. In terms of safety, a properly secured vehicle is a lot less likely to break loose during transport. That should be obvious. But let us talk about the speed question. Remember that a tow operator doesn’t want to hang around on the side of the road for too long.

If you have seen a professional lumberjack competition, you will notice that the men and women competing for the top prize can hack through a log in mere minutes. They are fast and efficient because they know how to use their tools. The same principle applies to operating a tow truck.

A tow operator who knows how to use his or her equipment can, and should, practice doing so. It should become second nature so that, on any given recovery job, the operator doesn’t have to spend 15 to 20 minutes figuring out what needs to be done. The more efficiently an operator can deploy chains and straps, the more quickly he or she can get out of harm’s way.

Know What You Need

Another side to towing equipment is knowing what is needed to complete most recoveries. For example, every tow truck is going to be equipped with a basic inventory of chains, straps, and hooks. But let’s say you operate a towing company in north-central Pennsylvania. Your trucks could be recovering a lot of vehicles from the mountain passes of I-81 this winter.

Your trucks might also need to be equipped with motorized winches and heavy-duty cables. Otherwise, how are you going to get those cars that have managed to find their way into ditches? Once recovered, your drivers may have to deploy some creative tiedown methods to overcome car damage.

Recovering broken-down vehicles is always a sticky situation. Doing it during the winter adds an extra element of danger brought on by severe weather. If you are tow operator, we implore you to make sure you know your tow equipment and how to use it.


Selling Hay: 4 Things Affected by Moisture Levels

With the final crop of hay for the 2018 season now behind us, the interest to think about hay and moisture testers  tends to be on the lower side. Even so, that does not diminish the need to be proactive about maintaining moisture levels. Moisture affects stored hay in ways that can prevent a grower from selling his or her crop over the winter.

Buyers want hay for their cattle and horses. Growers should know that the animals that will feed on their hay are as important to buyers as the hay is to them. As such, they should also expect buyers to be picky. They want the highest quality product at the lowest possible price.

Below is a short list of four things buyers look for when choosing a hay supplier. All four are affected by hay moisture levels. So just as a reminder, make sure you have a working moisture tester on hand throughout the winter months. Do not ignore moisture levels. If you do, you may not be able to sell as much product as you had hoped.

Supplier Quantity

Whether a buyer works with one supplier or many, he or she wants to know that the quality is there to support his/her animals until spring. Why does this matter to a grower? Because the last thing a grower wants is to promise buyers a certain quantity of hay only to discover he/she cannot deliver. Not delivering promised quantities is a fast way to lose customers.

Your average grower promises a certain amount based on current storage minus expected loss. But the grower also has to take care of his/her hay to ensure that losses don’t exceed the norm. Routinely checking moisture levels is a big part of that.

Supplier Reserve

Buyers typically expect to use a given amount of hay over the winter months. But they may have their own storage issues. Realizing that there’s always the potential for more loss than anticipated, buyers look for suppliers who have enough reserve to meet supplemental needs down the road.

Growers can encourage buyers to have their own hay moisture testers, store their hay in a dry place, etc., but having a reserve supply on hand helps in a big way. Buyers who know they can count on their suppliers for supplemental shipments in the event of shortfall quickly become loyal customers.

Hay Quality

This should be a given. Buyers don’t want to see excess mold growth when they break open a new bale. They don’t want to see hay that is so wet that it promotes bacteria, algae, etc. They don’t want to see bales that are so dry that they likely lack nutritional value. And that, by the way, takes us to the last item.

Nutritional Value

Both cattle and horses alike have specific nutritional needs. Buyers are looking for good quality hay with the right nutritional value to carry their animals through the winter. They will add to the animals’ diets with nutritional supplements if necessary, but buyers would rather not have to do that. They want good quality hay with its full nutritional value intact.

Both hay quality and nutritional value are impacted by moisture. Hay that is too dry tends to not be as nutritious; in some cases, excessively dry hay may offer very little nutritional value at all. Animals can eat to their hearts content and still lose weight.

With winter approaching, hay moisture levels are critical for a successful selling season. If you don’t have a working moisture tester on hand, now is the time to get one.