Why Steel Tarps Are Important for Safety

Truck drivers use flatbed steel tarps of all sizes to secure and protect their loads. Given the time-consuming nature of tarping loads, a nonprofessional may wonder why flatbed trailers are used at all. It comes down to the fact that some loads just cannot be put into enclosed box trailers very easily. Steel coils are but one example. Flatbed trailers make for easier loading and unloading using forklifts and other heavy lifting equipment.

Tarps are used to protect a load against the elements as well as road debris and animals. However, tarps are also about improving highway safety. A high-quality truck tarp enhances safety by improving the profile of a load and helping to keep that load securely in place.

Load Profile

The vast majority of loads hauled on flatbed trailers have unusually shaped profiles. In fact, an unusual profile is one of the reasons a given load might be transported on a flatbed rather than an enclosed trailer. Left untarped, these loads also present a certain amount of danger by way of road debris.

For example, consider a load of steel coils. A flatbed trailer might be carrying six spools of steel coil, loaded consecutively with each spool securely against the others beside it. Nevertheless, no matter how tightly the spools are packed on the trailer, there is always empty space between them. That empty space could catch road debris and hold it temporarily. A few miles down the road, the debris could be dislodged, flying through the air and striking a car.

Steel-Tarps

A heavy-duty steel tarp reduces that risk by providing a more uniform profile. What’s more, it eliminates the dead space where road debris can collect. Any debris flying through the air as the truck goes down the highway will be deflected off in most cases. Although cars and other vehicles could still be negatively impacted, the risk is greatly reduced.

Load Securing

A truck driver would never use tarps alone to secure a load. However, a heavy-duty tarp does add an extra layer of protection in case one of the other systems fails. Again, let us talk about steel coils as an example.

A load of steel coil will be braced on either end with timbers designed to keep the spools from rolling. Each individual spool will be secured to the flatbed using a chain; larger loads might also be secured by tying each spool to the one next to it using a heavy-duty chain.

With a strong, properly secured tarp in place, a load would remain relatively safe even if one of the chains holding a center spool broke. The tarp would keep the spool secure long enough for the driver to get to a safe place where he or she could re-secure it with a new chain.

As you can see, steel tarps are important for highway safety as well as protecting a load. For the trucker, that means choosing tarps wisely. Tough fabrics combined with high quality construction offer maximum load protection and increased safety.


Securing Your Flatbed Trailer with a Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

Securing a flatbed trailer and its load with a heavy-duty truck tarp is just part of the routine for the American trucker. For new truckers, or those who have never hauled flatbed loads before, learning how to effectively tarp is not the easiest thing in the world. It is an acquired skill that takes time and experience to master.

Before tarping ever begins, the trucker must purchase the right kinds of tarps for the loads he or she intends to haul. It is best to choose heavy-duty tarps that can withstand the punishment of the open road; we usually recommend 18-ounce vinyl or a PVC product. Canvas and poly tarps do not tend to hold up very well over multiple long hauls.

With the correct tarp in hand, securing your trailer is a three-step process:

1. Load Balance

Making sure a load is balanced does a number of things. First, it keeps the trailer evenly weighted for maximum safety and fuel efficiency. Second, it allows for tarping the load in such a way that it provides as much protection as possible. Experienced truckers know that how a load is placed on a trailer goes a long way toward determining how it is tarped.

If you have any say in how your trailer is loaded, try to make sure the profile is as even as possible across the entire surface. Also, try to make sure that no part of the load sits higher than the top of the tractor if at all possible. Doing so reduces drag and protects your tarp against unnecessary wind.

2. Tarp Application

Despite the introduction of automatic tarping machines, many of today’s drivers still apply their tarps manually. The key is to make sure a tarp is spread evenly across the load to ensure as much protection as possible on all sides. The amount of drop a tarp offers plays a big role in this, so having enough drop to completely cover your load is usually beneficial.

securing-tarp

3. Tarp Securing

Flatbed trailer tarps come with both grommets and D-rings. Securing a tarp with bungee cords and the D-rings is okay for short trips across town – provided the load itself has been secured by other means – but it is an inappropriate way to secure a tarp for a long-haul trip. Such trips require the use of ratchet straps, ropes, or chains.

Ratchet straps are preferred because these are very easy to use and strong at the same time. A hook on one end of the strap is connected to a D-ring, while the fabric of the strap is pulled through a winch system. This enables you to get the straps as tight as they need to be to secure the tarp. They can also be used to provide extra strength for securing the load.

As always, it is important to make sure there is no loose material able to flap around in the wind. If any of the surfaces of the tarp will be exposed to sharp edges, it is wise to use other materials to soften the edges. The idea is to protect your load and your tarp at the same time.


Does the Color of a Flatbed Truck Tarp Matter?

When you are shopping for truck tarps, you can find them in just about any color. Standard colors are black and blue, but you can get them in red, yellow, green, and just about anything else. The question is, does the color of a flatbed truck tarp really matter? That depends on how you feel about heat.

Colors themselves are merely aesthetic. However, a black tarp will absorb more sunlight, thereby producing more heat. If this is a problem for either your load or your own comfort, you might want to think about another color. Otherwise, it does not matter much.

Why Black Tarps Get Hotter

Black tarps can be significantly hotter than lighter colors on sunny days. The reason behind this has to do with how light is absorbed and reflected. As far as black as concerned, it is not really a color. It is actually the absence of color.

When light rays hit a surface, certain parts of the light spectrum are reflected to produce the perception of color. The parts of the spectrum that are absorbed are not seen by the naked eye. A black surface is one that absorbs every part of the light spectrum, reflecting nothing back for your eyes to recognize as color. This absolute absorption of the light spectrum explains why black tarps get hotter.

PolyTarp

By absorbing all of the light, the tarp is also absorbing the energy from it. That energy is stored as heat in the tarp’s fabric. On a hot, sunny day, the heat emanating off a black tarp can make it almost unbearable to remove from a flatbed and fold up. Of course, black tarps are great on winter days for that very same reason.

There may be times when you want to avoid a black tarp if you can. One example might be a load that is sensitive to high heat. Such loads require lighter colored tarps that reflect more light than they absorb.

Aesthetic Appearance

As long as heat is not an issue for loads, most truckers choose the color of their tarps based on aesthetic purposes. A black tarp has an advantage in that it shows very little dirt. You could get away with cleaning your tarp less often by choosing black. That’s not to say they should not be cleaned at all, but during those busy times when you just don’t have to the option to stop and clean, a black tarp will not show the dirt.

The lighter the color, the worse a tarp will look as it wears. Why? Because lighter colors do not hide flaws as well. A lighter colored tarp will show every repair, every stain, and every bit of discoloration caused by fading. Black tarps are not subject to such things. As a general rule, they look better for longer.

Now that you know the color of a flatbed truck tarp is largely inconsequential, at least you will not have to worry that buying something other than black could have a huge impact on your tarping and hauling. Buy whatever color suits your fancy. At the end, it only matters that your load arrives at its destination safely.


Protecting the Farm with Poly Tarps

The American farmer has a long history of having to adapt in order to protect his or her investment and produce a profitable crop. Weather the farmer raises livestock or produces fruits and vegetables, the right tools are necessary in order to make the most of equipment and land. One of the most important tools on the American farm is the poly tarp.

Poly tarps come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and for different purposes. You might even have a few tarps lying around your own house. However, what you will find on the typical farm is a collection of tarps designated for specific purposes. There are tarps for protecting crops, protecting farm equipment, hauling loads, and more. Moreover, like any tool, the farmer must be careful to choose the right tarp for the right job.

Here are some of the more common uses for tarps on the average American farm:

Crop Protection

Protecting crops is one of the primary purposes for tarps in agriculture. For example, once hay is harvested it has to be protected from direct sunlight and precipitation. Without protection, harvested hay can grow mold or mildew, ferment too quickly, or even spontaneously combust. Good quality hay tarps mitigate much of the risk.

A typical hay tarp will have a black side and a silver or white side. The dark side goes underneath as an added layer of protection against direct sunlight. The white or silver side is placed on top to reflect sunlight.

poly-tarp

Equipment Protection

The smaller family farm may not have the budget to construct an entire campus of buildings to protect equipment. Poly tarps provide an affordable alternative. Tarps can be used to cover seasonal equipment to protect it from sunlight, precipitation, pests and so on. The nice thing about poly tarps is that these come in a number of very large sizes that are more than adequate for protecting most farm equipment. What’s more, a company like Mytee Products can produce custom tarps according to a customer’s unique size specifications.

Along with protecting equipment comes protecting outbuildings. For example, a storage barn might develop a hole in the roof or one of the walls. The farmer might just cover the hole with a tarp until after the harvest, when he or she has more time to repair it.

Load Hauling

Farmers routinely load their products on trucks to take them to market. They also tend to carry much of the farm’s waste products to an off-site location for disposal. In either case, poly tarps are often utilized to cover those loads for transport. Loads are covered in order to prevent them from dispersing on the roadway en route to their destinations.

In some states, it is required by law to cover agricultural loads with tarps. Having access to high quality tarping solutions is an absolute necessity in the states.

Temporary irrigation

What is the farmer to do during dry spells, when certain portions of the field need more water than others? Many an enterprising farmer knows how to dig a temporary trench to divert water from where it is not needed to where it is. They will often line these trenches with tarps to facilitate the flow of water. This affords them the best use of limited water resources without needing to construct a permanent irrigation channel lined with concrete.

Without a complete selection of poly tarps to choose from, the average farmer would find his or her job a lot more difficult. Thankfully, that is not the case. The tarp industry continues to provide farmers with the tools they need to remain as productive as possible.


Dump Trucks and Tarps: Make Sure You’re Obeying the Law

The average dump truck driver has a lot to worry about on a daily basis. It’s a job that not only requires getting material from one location to the next, but one that also requires moving a load in a way that is environmentally responsible and safe for other drivers. That is why each of the states has very specific regulations about how dump trucks can carry various materials.

As a dump truck driver, it is your responsibility to know the laws in the states where you work. Remember that motor vehicle law is not regulated at the federal level. Where one state might require you to use a tarp for certain sorts of loose materials, another state may not require it as long as a load is not likely to disperse en route. Be advised that there are also some state laws regarding how tarps are secured.

The Reasons for Tarping a Dump Truck

Unlike a conventional tractor-trailer, a dump truck is assumed to be carrying a load of loose material. For example, a big rig might carry a piece or two of heavy construction equipment. As long as it is secured with chains and straps, the load does not necessarily need to be covered. Yet a dump truck usually carries something loose; loads like gravel, stone, and sand. Dump trucks are also known to carry waste materials.

dump-truck

The states have enacted tarping regulations for the following reasons:

  • Road Safety – Loose gravel and other material falling from the back of an open dump truck provides a serious road hazard for car drivers. Even the smallest piece of gravel can crack a windshield, surprising a driver causing and him or her to lose control of their vehicle. Larger pieces of debris can completely penetrate windshields or cut down tires.
  • Environmental Safety – In the case of certain types of hazardous or waste materials, dump truck tarps are required to contain the load securely. The last thing anyone wants is for these kinds of materials to fall from the truck and contaminate the local environment. Commercial waste headed for the local dump is a good example.
  • Surface Damage – Some materials carried by a dump truck may not necessarily pose an environmental safety issue but can still be damaging to road surfaces. Tar and asphalt are two good examples. If loose tar and asphalt were to fall from a dump truck it could quickly adhere to the road surface to create uneven pavement that could be dangerous in some weather conditions.

Penalties for Violations

A dump truck driver who considers ignoring tarping laws should think again. There are some pretty severe penalties that go along with violations, especially if accidents take plce. Let’s look at a few examples.

Arizona law requires dump truck drivers to use tarps on any loads that cannot be contained any other way. Furthermore, tarps must be securely fastened in order to prevent them from coming loose. Any violation that does not cause damage or injury is subject to a $300 fine. Violations resulting in property damage, injuries, or death could result in fines of up to $1,000 per offense.

In the state of Maryland, no vehicle can carry any loose materials (with the exception of agricultural products) without containing such materials. Loads must be contained by the truck bed, four solid walls, and a properly secured cover or tarp. Violations are subject to a variety of penalties.

Make sure you know the tarping laws in the states where you will be operating your dump truck. It’s better to be safe than sorry.