More from: cargo control

Cargo Control and Physics: Beware of the Force

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised its long-standing cargo control regulations for commercial motor vehicles back in 2004. Since then, the rules have remained largely unchanged. They account for all types of trucks including flatbeds, refers, tankers, and even dry goods vans.

In short, truck drivers are required to properly secure their cargo prior to transport. Nothing can be allowed to move, let alone become dislodged and fall off a trailer. Dry van and reefer operators have less of a challenge given that their cargo is enclosed on all sides. Flatbed operators do not have that luxury. They have to secure their cargo by tying it down to the trailer bed.

In light of that, truckers with the best cargo control skills are the ones that understand physics. They understand the four forces that cargo is subject to during transport. They account for each of those forces by blocking and tying down cargo in specific ways.

The four forces are:

Forward force – experienced during braking
Rearward force – experienced during acceleration
Sideways force – experienced when making turns
Upward force – experienced when hitting bumps or on rough road.

The biggest of these four forces is forward force. This goes without saying. It is the greatest force because it is exerted as a result of cargo continuing to want to move forward even as the vehicle is decelerating. Forward force is a combination of kinetic energy, the weight of the cargo, and the vehicle’s rate of deceleration.

Tools for Overcoming Force

The revamping of FMCSA rules included some new rules for tie-downs, blocks, and other cargo control equipment. Though we will not go through the details here, it is sufficient to say that the government made it clear that they expect truck drivers to use the right kinds of tools to keep cargo in place. The rules specifically mention:

Bulkheads – Bulkheads are sometimes referred to as headboards or front-end structures. They are generally attached to the front of a flatbed trailer and used to block cargo from moving forward. Bulkheads are not required by law.

Webbing Straps – Webbing straps are used to tie down cargo when heavier chains are not required. They are made with synthetic materials that offer maximum control with a low weight cost.

Other Equipment – The rules go on to address chains, wire rope, steel straps, blocks, shackles, winches, and more. Fortunately for truck drivers, the rules do not stipulate how each of these different things have to be used to secure cargo. The rules only talk about the cumulative effect of choosing the right equipment.

It is interesting to note that the rules also draw a distinction between securing devices and tie-downs. Obviously, a chain qualifies as both. But while all tie-downs are also securing devices, not all securing devices qualify as tie-downs. Therefore, truckers have to make the distinction in their own minds as well.

There are very specific rules relating to the number of tie-downs necessary based on the length and weight of a load. The number of tie-downs is independent of other cargo control equipment, save the bulkhead. Why? Drivers can use fewer tie-downs if a bulkhead prevents cargo from moving forward. On the other hand, blocks do not reduce the number of required tie-downs.

It is All about Physics

We have said multiple times in the past that cargo control is all about physics. If you understand the physics involved, you should understand the four forces that are working hard to dislodge cargo. Keep those forces in check and your cargo will stay in place.


Get Ready for the 2018 CVSA Roadcheck

We tend to devote a lot of our blog space to talking about things like truck tarps, tow truck accessories, and supplies for farming operations. We want to deviate a bit with this post by talking about the annual CVSA Roadcheck. It is now less than one month away.

Every year the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance conducts their annual Roadcheck event as a way to remind both truck drivers and motor carriers to go the extra mile to make sure they are in compliance. Every year that Roadcheck has a different focus.

Last year’s focus was cargo control. Inspectors were out in full force during the first week of June checking everything from tie-downs to the integrity of chains and ratchet straps. Thousands of trucks were found in violation, many of which were taken out of service until problems were rectified.

Hours of Service Rules for 2018

The Roadcheck this year focuses on drivers’ hours of service. As you know, the ELD mandate that went into effect this past December makes it a requirement for drivers to track their on-duty hours using an electronic logging device. Although ELD enforcement has been spotty to date, the annual Roadcheck is an opportunity to remind drivers that strict enforcement will begin in earnest very soon.

Whether you agree with the ELD mandate or not, it is what it is. It is a necessary part of modern trucking. The mandate is the same for open deck drivers, dry van haulers, reefer drivers, tanker haulers, and even hazmat drivers.

Be sure you are prepared by having a working ELD on your truck. Also start paying a lot more attention to your pre-trip inspections. Law enforcement will be looking at other things as well during the 2018 Roadcheck.

Don’t Forget Cargo Control

As experts in cargo control for the trucking industry, we are smart enough to know that CVSA inspectors will not be ignoring violations just because the focus of this year’s Roadcheck event is hours of service. They will still be looking at how well cargo is secured.

Now would be a good time to go through your inventory of cargo control supplies to make sure you have everything you need to do the job safely and in full compliance. If any of your ratchet straps are worn for example, replace them now. Do not wait for an inspector to give you the evil eye and a possible violation.

Make sure you have enough straps, chains, and blocks on board. Make sure you are paying attention to working load limits as well as the length and width of your loads. And if you’re not utilizing a bulkhead at the front of your open deck trailer, refresh your memory on the extra tie-downs necessary to prevent your loads from shifting.

Let’s Do Better Than Last Year

Although the results of last year’s Roadcheck were comparatively good, there were still far too many violations found. Let’s all work together to do better this year. Let us show CVSA inspectors and the general public that our industry does truly care about safety and regulations.

If you are having any trouble with your ELD, contact its manufacturer or your employer, if applicable. For cargo control supplies, contact us at Mytee Products. We have everything you need to haul just about any kind of load.

The 2018 CVSA Roadcheck is almost upon us. Are you ready? Hopefully you are, because the first week of June will be here before you know it. And with it will come on army of inspectors and law enforcement officers looking for violations.


How To Avoid The Top 5 Cargo Control Violations

In the run-up to the 2018 CVSA Roadcheck, it is part of our responsibility to customers to get them ready by way of cargo control supplies and education. This post is geared toward the education aspect. It covers the top 5 cargo control violations in America. You don’t want to be found guilty of any of them during the annual Roadcheck.

It has been estimated that up to 17 trucks are inspected every minute during the annual Roadcheck event. Keep in mind that the Roadcheck is conducted all across North America. Whether you haul flatbeds, dry goods vans, tankers or reefers, the chances of you being stopped and inspected during the first week of June is pretty high.

The best way to protect yourself is to make sure that you are fully compliant with cargo control rules. If you are not sure what those rules are, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration publishes a driver handbook that lays it all out. For our part, we offer you the top five cargo control violations based on 2017 statistics:

1. Failure to Prevent Shifting or Loss of Load

Loads must always be secured to prevent them from shifting, falling, leaking, blowing, or otherwise leaving the confines of the vehicles carrying them. This means different things for different truck drivers. For the flatbed driver, it means that nothing can be allowed to fall off the trailer. Furthermore, nothing on the trailer should be allowed to shift during transport.

The obvious way to prevent being found in violation is to properly contain you loads. If you are not using a bulkhead, get one. Otherwise you will need to use extra tie-downs to keep loads in place. You might also consider a side kit for loads that might be a bit more challenging to contain.

2. Failure to Secure Equipment

Not only does your cargo have to be controlled, so does any and all equipment you’re carrying on the truck. That means hand trucks, chains, hand tools, etc. Anything that could potentially fall off your trailer must be properly secured.

3. Worn or Damaged Tie-Downs

Federal law prohibits the use of tie-downs or other cargo control equipment that is damaged or sufficiently warm. And because normal wear is in the eyes of the beholder, law enforcement tends to err on the side of caution. Please make a point of replacing any worn or damaged tie-downs right away. Even after the Roadcheck is over, your truck could be taken out of service if an inspection reveals worn or damaged equipment.

4. Insufficient Tie-Downs

The law also stipulates just how many tie-downs are necessary for a given load. You can find all the numbers in the driver handbook mentioned earlier in this post. Suffice it to say that your truck will be taken out of service if the number of tie-downs deployed is deemed insufficient.

Know that you have to have the right number of tie-downs AND they have to have appropriate working load limits. Getting either one wrong could result in a violation.

5. Loose Tie-Downs

Lastly, law enforcement don’t like to see loose tie-downs. So whether you’re using chains, straps or a combination of both, everything needs to be tight and secure. Be sure to inspect your tie-downs before initial departure, then again within 50 miles of the start of your trip. Check them every time you stop after that.

Don’t be found in violation during this year’s Roadcheck event. Pay attention to cargo control and do what the law requires. Both you and law enforcement will be the happier for it.

 


RoadCheck 2018 – Start Thinking Cargo Control

The 2018 CVSA RoadCheck is less than two months away. The annual event will be held this year from June 5-7 all across North America. Inspectors will be on the lookout for the kinds of violations that could have you or your truck taken out of service for a considerable length of time.

News reports state that the 2018 RoadCheck will focus mainly on hours of service rules and the new ELD mandate. However, drivers should not let their guards down. Inspectors will also be looking at cargo control and the general condition of mechanical systems. As a company specializing in cargo control ourselves, our main priority is to make sure our customers have everything they need to both pass inspection and stay safe on the roads.

A Better Year in 2018

It is rather appropriate for us to talk about cargo control in relation to this year’s RoadCheck based on what happened last year. The main priority in 2017 was cargo control. And even though inspectors put a record number of trucks out of service due to cargo control violations, such violations were not the number one reason for out of service actions. The biggest problem in 2017 was hours of service violations.

It is kind of ironic that hours of service were such a problem even though the focus was on cargo control. This year the focus is on hours of service, but inspectors will still be looking for cargo control violations. It is our hope that drivers do better this year than last – in every area inspectors decide to look at.

A better year means fewer out of service actions. It means more secure cargo, safer roads, and fewer penalties for drivers and their employers. It even means a better reputation for an industry that has been struggling in that area for a while.

Cargo Control Tips for the 2018 RoadCheck

Mytee Products cannot do much to help you with hours of service and ELDs. We can help with cargo control. Here are a few tips we recommend for the last few weeks heading into the 2018 RoadCheck:

Check Your Equipment

Inspectors will be looking closely at the condition of your straps, chains, and ratchets during roadside checks. So make the time now to check all your equipment for wear and tear. If anything needs replacing, order it as soon as possible. We want you to have it in time.

Review Procedures

Familiarity can sometimes cause drivers to forget the standard procedures for properly securing cargo. Over the next few weeks, review your procedures to make sure they are fresh in your mind. You might even create a procedural checklist you can follow to get yourself back into the habit of employing best practices.

Think Overkill

Spend the next few weeks thinking overkill. In other words, do more than you know is necessary to correctly secure your cargo. An inspector will never penalize you for having too many straps, so spend a few extra minutes to add one more.

Check More Often 

You already check your loads at regular intervals throughout your journey. From now through the end of June, check more often. It only takes a few minutes to make sure your cargo is still secure. The payoff for doing so could be huge in the midst of the 2018 RoadCheck.

Again, if you need any cargo control supplies prior to RoadCheck 2018, order them as soon as you can from Mytee Products. We want to make sure you have everything you need before inspections begin in earnest.


Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top