Interesting Things You Might Not Know about Ratchet Straps

Ratchet straps are very familiar to flatbed truck drivers who use them to tie down everything from steel coil to landscaping products. You might even make the case that ratchet straps are among the most important cargo control tools a trucker can have on board. But there is a lot to know about these straps, how they are made, how they are rated, and so on.

As a leading provider of cargo control supplies for truck drivers, we thought it might be interesting to help our customers test their knowledge of ratchet straps. Below is a selection of interesting things you may or may not know about these incredibly useful tools.

The Differences in Webbing Material

The polyester material from which ratchet straps are made is known in the industry as webbing. If you are even remotely observational, you have probably noticed that the webbing of a ratchet strap is fairly similar to the webbing used to make seat belts. You may have even noticed that webbing material is used in the manufacture of tarps, tents, backpacks, etc. But did you know that not all webbing is equal in terms of strength?

Polyester seat belt webbing is nearly identical to polyester ratchet strap webbing in terms of the material used. The main difference between the two is the strength of the webbing. Seat belt webbing is considerably thinner than its ratchet strap counterpart, and its tensile strength is much lower as well. Remember that a seat belt only has to stop a few hundred pounds, at most, moving in a single direction. Ratchet straps have to hold thousands of pounds in place by preventing cargo from moving in multiple directions.

Webbing’s Environmental Resilience

Webbing is the material of choice for all sorts of things because of its resilience. It holds up very well to an extensive list environmental conditions that would damage other materials. For example, it resists mildew and mold because it also resists moisture. Webbing does not shrink, it stands up to direct sunlight, and it is not affected by a number of acids found in industrial environments.

Not All Webbing Is Polyester

While polyester is one of the more common materials for making webbing fabric, it is not the only material. Webbing can be made of polypropylene, nylon, and even high-strength materials like Kevlar and Dyneema. Each of these materials has specific properties manufacturers are looking for when they create new webbing products.

Polyester is usually sufficient for typical cargo control applications within the flatbed trucking industry. But where extremely high tensile strength ratings are required, truckers might choose a more expensive product.

Webbing Construction Methods

Finally, the webbing material used to make ratchet straps can be constructed based on one of two weaves. The first is the solid weave. Solid weave is not the preferred process for ratchet straps because it is not as strong as the other process, known as tubular weave.

A webbing material constructed with the tubular weave utilizes flattened tubes of fibers instead of individual fibers in the weave. Using flattened tubes provides extra strength and shock absorption. Tubular weave webbing material is a bit more expensive, but you do get what you pay for when it comes to ratchet straps.

Yes, the trusted ratchet strap is one of the more important tools that flatbed truckers keep in their toolboxes. Ratchet straps are one of the keys to successful cargo control that is still efficient at the same time. Without ratchet straps, truckers would be left to secure their cargo with chains, ropes, and inadequate bungee straps.


Toolboxes: 5 Reasons Newbies Shouldn’t Leave Home Without One

Aluminum toolboxes are just one of the many items we carry to accommodate flatbed truckers. It is interesting to hear the stories every time a newbie comes in looking for that first toolbox that should have been purchased weeks or months ago. Unfortunately, some newbies just do not understand how important toolboxes are until something happens.

Drive down any U.S. interstate and you will see flatbed rigs with all kinds of toolboxes. Some drivers mount step boxes on the sides of their cabs while others prefer the larger, rectangular boxes mounted to the back of the cab or directly on the trailer itself. The type of toolbox a driver prefers is not as important as the fact that he has one. A lot of truckers have more than one.

If you are new to flatbed trucking, there are plenty of reasons to never leave home without at least one toolbox affixed to your rig. Five such reasons are listed below.

1. Something Is Bound to Break

When you put in as many miles as a professional trucker, you are guaranteed that something will break at some point. It could be as serious as a brake line or as minor as a mirror mount. The point is that the driver is his or her own best mechanic for keeping a truck on the road in emergency situations. But fixing your rig requires a toolbox with the right tools and supplies.

2. Mechanics Are Expensive

Minor repairs that can be accomplished on the road can save a trucker a tremendous amount of money. On the other hand, mechanics are expensive. Why spend a ton of money paying a professional to replace a hose when you can easily do it yourself? Of course, this is assuming you have spare hoses in your toolbox.

3. Waiting for Mechanics Wastes Time

A lot of the newbies that come in for their first toolboxes talk about having to wait hours for a mechanic to rescue them. This is not good. Truck drivers are paid by the mile, not the hour. Waiting on a mechanic is like flushing money down the toilet. Time spent waiting is time not spent driving.

4. Tools Are Dangerous in the Cab

Another rookie mistake is storing tools right in the cab. This is a dangerous practice that should be avoided. Why? Because anything stored in the cab can easily become a projectile in the event of a crash. More than one driver has sustained serious injuries from in-cab projectiles, when he or she would otherwise have walked away unscathed.

5. Toolboxes Protect Cargo Control Supplies

Even if a flatbed trucker has no interest in carrying things like wrenches, duct tape, and extra bulbs, aluminum toolboxes are rather useful for protecting cargo control supplies. In fact, that’s why veteran flatbed truckers have multiple toolboxes. Some of their toolbox space is reserved for things like tarps, straps, ratchets, and edge protectors. You can never have too much storage space if you are flatbed trucker.

It is hard to argue how valuable aluminum toolboxes are to flatbed truckers. They are so valuable that we wouldn’t think of serving truckers with an inventory that didn’t include them. We currently offer several different toolboxes in assorted styles and sizes to accommodate any need.

Once you buy your first toolbox, do some online research into what you should carry. Trucker forums are a great source of information. Veteran truckers would be happy to share years of knowledge with you. Remember, a well-stocked toolbox is your friend on the road. Do not leave home without one.


What Can Happen When You Don’t Use Corner and Edge Protectors

Some of the products Mytee Products sells are universal among flatbed truck drivers. Tarps are a great example. There are other products that some drivers would rather work without. Corner and edge protectors would be among them. For some reason, there are flatbed drivers who do not want to invest in these rather inexpensive devices that could mean the difference between getting a load to its destination safely and having to explain to the shipper why damage occurred in transit.

You will find that we consistently recommend corner and edge protectors to every flatbed truck who asks. We have a variety of corner and edge protector products in assorted sizes and materials. Most importantly, all of them are comparatively inexpensive. When you understand what these little devices can save you from, investing in them is well worth every penny.

Not convinced? Then consider what can happen when you do not use corner and edge protectors:

You Rip Your Tarps

Even the most innocuous looking cargo can be deadly to your tarps. All it takes is one semi-sharp edge and a good breeze to put a hole in a brand-new tarp you just invested hundreds of dollars in. On the other hand, you could have invested in 4-inch corner protectors for as little as $0.99 each.

The fact is that corner and edge protectors save tarps. Even if you were not interested in protecting your cargo – and that is something we do not recommend – you should at least be concerned about your tarps. You invested in them; why would you not protect them?

You Damage Your Cargo

Obviously, the other side of the coin is damaging your cargo. Corner and edge protectors prevent different pieces of cargo from coming into direct contact with each other. They prevent tarps and straps from rubbing on cargo surfaces as well. For especially sensitive cargo, contact with any other surface can be harmful.

If you ever wondered why some shippers and receivers mandate the use of edge and corner protectors, this is the reason. A lot of damage can be done over just a few hundred miles at 65 mph – damage that could otherwise be prevented simply by using plastic, leather, or metal edge protectors.

You Find Yourself Improvising

In relation to the previous point, you may find yourself improvising if you don’t have corner and edge protectors that a shipper is demanding. Of course, you’re not going to turn down a load if you can improvise. But what do you have to work with?

You might find yourself ripping apart a couple of cardboard boxes in a pinch. We’ve known drivers who have used pieces of PVC pipe, ripped up T-shirts, foam coffee cups, spare work gloves, sneakers, and a whole host of other stand-ins. Such resourcefulness is okay in rare emergency situations, but you’ll never make it as a career trucker if you’re always having to keep shippers happy by improvising on corner and edge protectors.

Shippers and receivers love drivers who are prepared for any kind of load. They want to see rugged edge and corner protectors designed specifically for the job at hand. They do not want to see drivers improvising just because they don’t want to invest in the right equipment.

As a flatbed trucker, it is your responsibility to protect cargo from start to finish. It is smart to protect your own investment in tarps and straps. So do yourself and your customers a favor and purchase a collection of corner and edge protectors. We have never known a driver to regret doing so.


Inventorying Cargo Control for Insurance Purposes

Every truck driver is familiar with the principle of inventorying cargo control supplies in advance of rougher winter weather. You need to know what you have so you know what to buy to be ready for the coming wind, snow, and sleet of winter. Yet the stormy summer of 2017 has been a reminder that there is another important reason to inventory your cargo control equipment and supplies: insurance claims.

Whether you are an owner-operator or work for a carrier, cargo control equipment and supplies are considered part of the business to which they belong. As such, any losses relating to things like tarps and toolboxes are subject to insurance claims.

The problem is that you cannot claim what you do not know you have. Furthermore, you can only make claims based on events and subsequent damage as outlined in your policy. You may have pieces in your inventory that are already suffering from minor wear or damage; they may not be eligible for an insurance claim should that wear or damage lead to a catastrophic failure during a storm.

Know Exactly What You Have

The one side of the insurance inventory coin dictates that you need to know exactly what you have on board at any given time. So, create a running inventory of everything you own. We are talking tarps, ratchet straps, ratchets and binders, corner and edge protectors, bungee straps, blocks, chains, and everything else you use for cargo control.

Where tarps are concerned, it is important to distinguish exactly what kinds of tarps you have. You may have a variety that includes steel, lumber, and smoke tarps. You may have a larger number of machinery tarps than anything else; that would be noted in your inventory.

Binders are another item that you may possess in different variations. Be sure to detail every binder in your box according to type. And while you’re at it, make sure to inventory your hand tools as well. They can be claimed if they are lost in an accident or storm.

Know the Condition of Each Item

Taking inventory for the purpose of determining the condition of your cargo control supplies is important for a couple of reasons. First is the issue explained earlier in this post: you may not be able to claim a piece of equipment that was already showing signs of wear or damage prior to the incident in question. In fact, if the failure of such a piece of equipment contributed to a loss of cargo, that cargo may not be fully covered either.

The second reason condition is important has to do with the kind of insurance coverage you have. Your policy might offer to pay the replacement value of lost cargo control supplies, or it may pay the actual value. Replacement value is the amount of money it would take to replace an item at its current retail price. Actual value is the is real value of an item based on its age, condition, etc.

Actual value dictates that things like tarps and ratchet straps are worth less over time. That is not necessarily good or bad, but it is further motivation to make sure all your cargo control supplies are in good working condition.

While you are conducting an inventory, you may discover that you are short on one or two items. We have you covered here at Mytee Products. You will find everything you need for safe and efficient cargo control in our online store.


Driving into Canada – Watch Your Flatbed Trailers

American truck drivers hauling flatbeds in Canada during October and November should pay close attention to their trailers and cargo control techniques. Canadian officials are preparing to launch their annual falls blitz, with a special emphasis on flatbed trailers. Although the campaign targets shippers and receivers instead of truckers, some drivers could incidentally be caught up in the blitz if they do not secure cargo properly.

The Ontario Ministry of Labor conducts a falls blitz every year in order to improve safety relating to slips, trips, and falls. They look at ladders and other equipment used in mining, construction, healthcare, and industry. This year, the Ontario Trucking Alliance (OTA) has asked the Ministry to pay special attention to flatbed trailers and truck safety.

The OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) are especially concerned about safety when loading and unloading flatbeds. They say improper cargo control procedures can lead to loads falling on vulnerable drivers. They say that the risk of injury and death among drivers is unnecessarily high.

Also at issue are the many things outside the control of truck drivers. Examples include shipper and receiver ground maintenance, lighting, and tarping policies. For example, the CTA says it is common for shippers to not allow truck drivers to apply tarps in their yards. This forces drivers onto the roads where they have to tarp while worrying about traffic.

Driver Responsibility Still Important

While the trucking industry portion of Canada’s falls blitz focuses mainly on shippers and receivers, truck drivers still have that ever-important responsibility of making sure cargo is properly secured. Regardless of what happens in the shipping yard, a driver is ultimately responsible for his or her cargo once the truck leaves the yard. That does not change regardless of any action shippers and receivers fail to take to improve safety.

As a flatbed driver yourself, you know the importance of sound cargo control practices. You are aware that the federal government requires you to properly secure all cargo prior to departure, and to ensure that said cargo remains secure throughout your journey. You also know there are right and wrong ways to use everything from chains to ratchet straps to tarps.

If you are planning to travel into Canada over the next couple of months, we encourage you to take extra precautions with your flatbed cargo. Once the falls blitz is over, continue to be just as diligent with every load you carry. It only takes one momentary lapse of carelessness to create a dangerous situation.

We Have Just What You Need

As a retailer of cargo control equipment, Mytee Products has everything you need to travel safely. Our inventory begins with basic cargo control supplies like straps and chains. But we do not stop there. We also carry corner and edge protectors, bungee straps, load bars, E-track, and more.

In the tarp department we have everything you need to cover a variety of loads. Coil, lumber, steel, and smoke tarps are just the beginning. We also carry hay tarps for farmers and mesh tarps for construction companies, landscapers, and even homeowners.

Earlier this year, American truckers were subjected to the annual international road check enforcement blitz. Interestingly enough, the 2017 event focused heavily on cargo control pertaining to flatbed loads. Is it a coincidence that the Canadian blitz is also taking a serious look at flatbeds? Maybe, and maybe not. Either way though, do yourself and the industry a favor by being extra cautious with cargo. Give cargo control the attention it deserves and you will have nothing to worry about.

Sources:

Today’s Trucking – https://www.todaystrucking.com/inspectors-should-look-at-flatbed-safety-ota