Securing Your Cargo Is a Safety Concern

Flatbed trucker drivers are well aware of their responsibility towards the cargo they carry from the moment they hook a trailer. They also know that load securement is a matter of complying with the law and protecting the interests of both shipper and receiver. However, load security is also a safety concern. It applies not only to the cargo itself, but also to the truck tarps a driver uses to protect and secure the cargo in his charge.

During a recent news story covered by Portland television station KATU, Oregon State Police Sergeant Yvette Shepherd said that truck drivers “do what they are supposed to do” 90% of the time. Unfortunately, it is that 10% that can do the damage. During a ride-along with Sergeant Shepherd, the KATU reporter witnessed a number of serious problems including one truck that lost a tarp at 65 mph. The tarp struck a van following behind it, wrapping itself around the axle.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. Nevertheless, things could have been far worse. Imagine the damage a tarp flying straight off its load and landing on the windshield of a trailing car could do? Add a bit of momentary panic, and that driver could react in a way that sends his/her car off the road and causes harm to himselff or other drivers on the road.

cargo-truck

Take the Extra Time

We realize that a majority of truckers are quite responsible about making sure their tarps are properly applied and secured. We want to encourage our readers to take the required time to protect every load they transport. It only takes a few minutes, but the time spent could ultimately save someone’s life. Before you drive off, make sure you check:

•Tie-Downs – Whatever you use to secure your tarps should be checked one last time before you pull away. This includes ropes, bungee cords, tie down straps, and chains. Being vigilant about cords and ropes helps, because these tend to fray and wear over time.

•Grommets – When grommets come loose from the fabric of the tarp, they begin posing a safety risk. Follow the rule that a loose grommet is a failed grommet, and that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A truck driver does not want a complete small grommet failing his cargo on the freeway.

•Wind Pockets – Pockets that can catch the wind cause truck tarps to flap, come loose and ultimately become a truck drivers nightmare as it affects his/her time efficiency while driving. While it is not possible to prevent every wind pocket, wind pocket troubles can be minimized by applying tarps as tightly as possible and securing them with cargo protectors. An extra bungee cord or two might be all that is required to close a potential pocket.

•Loose Material – Lastly, any loose material that tends to flap in the breeze should be attended to. This is not as much a short-term safety issue as it is a long-term wear concern. Preventing flapping will extend the life of your tarps and better protect your cargo.At the end of the day, the tarps need to last as long as possible.

As always, load securement is something that should be checked within 50 miles of departure. After that, it is always a good idea to check the cargo during fuel stops or rest breaks. One can never check a load too many times during the trip.

If you are among the flatbed truckers who strive to be the best at what you do, we encourage you to keep doing what you do. If you like to do things on the easier side, please consider the repercussions of your actions on others. Securing your truck load is not only a matter of protecting the cargo between the shipper and receiver, is it a concern for safety.

Sources:

1.KATU – http://www.katu.com/news/problemsolver/Rogue-truckers-pushing-the-limits-on-Oregon-highways-292476271.html


EPDM Rubber Bungee Straps

Those black, rubber bungee straps truckers use to secure tarps are so easy to find that they are often taken for granted. However, did you know that the modern bungee strap is a relatively new invention? It hasn’t been around that long when you consider that a French scientist invented the first artificial rubber polymer in the 1870s. What he learned about synthetic rubber more than 130 years ago paved the way for creating the flexible, durable, and easy-to-use bungee straps that are common find in the modern marketplace.

It turns out that synthetic rubber was developed largely in response to the needs of the burgeoning auto industry in the early 20th century. Natural rubber was expensive to produce and not very durable for things such as car tires. Making matters worse were the first and second world wars, two eras in which rubber was hard to come by.

bungee-straps

In the years following World War II, discoveries on a variety of synthetic rubber products were made that would have various uses. One of those products was something known as ethylene propylene diene monomer (M-class) (EPDM) rubber, the rubber used to make bungee straps.It is an ideal kind of rubber for a multitude of products, including bungee straps and roofing materials.

Strengths of EPDM Rubber

EPDM rubber is an ideal material for bungee straps because it is resilient to hydraulic fluids, alkalis, and ketones. It is popular with truckers because of its extreme weather resistance. EPDM rubber holds up as well in subfreezing temperatures as it does in extremely warm temperatures and bright sunshine.

Imagine trying to tie down a canvas tarp using ropes during the middle of winter. The average trucker would have to go without gloves in order to get a good, tight knot. Nevertheless, with rubber bungee straps, you just hook the strap and go. It is quick, it is easy, and you can do it while still wearing your gloves.

Challenges of EPDM Rubber

As great as EPDM is for rubber bungee straps, it does have a few albeit minor challenges. Most of them arise due to the fact that EPDM it is a polymer made from petroleum byproducts. This means it is susceptible to damage from certain kinds of solvents and acids, gasoline, oil and kerosene. Truckers have to be very careful about using these substances near bungee straps.

Due to the flexibility of EPDM rubber, they perform best when used with other products to secure cargo in place. That is where webbing straps and chains come into play. Bungee straps are usually suitable for keeping tarps in place during transit.

Mytee carries several different sizes of manufactured EPDM rubber bungee straps with galvanized steel hooks. We also carry solid core rubber rope that truckers can bought in bulk and cut into customized sizes. Rubber rope hooks are available for use with this rope as well.

Thanks to some creative scientists looking for a better alternative to natural rubber, we now have EPDM synthetic rubber and products made from it. 130 years ago, who knew how vital synthetic rubber would be to the trucking industry in the 21st century?


Moving Blankets and Pads: Vital Employees for your New Moving Company

Two products essential to the moving industry that Mytee carries are moving blankets and moving pads. Due to their varied uses, they are popular with individual, non-commercial customers as well as professional movers. If you are new to the moving business , it would be a wise move to invest in enough blankets and pads to get things going. They are indispensable to packing and protecting the cargo that is transported for the company’s customers.

It is surprising to know how many consumers tend to shy away from renting blankets and pads for a DIY move. They invest thousands of dollars in furniture and electronics, only to take a chance at damaging those items during their move. However, DIY movers have that freedom of choice because they own what they move. Moving companies do not have such a luxury. The ethics of good business require them to take every possible step necessary to protect customer property.

moving-blanket

The Difference with using Moving Blankets

Moving blankets and pads can be used interchangeably in most cases. A mover could exclusively use one over the other rather than using both. Nonetheless, blankets and pads do have different properties that make them better options for certain uses. Let’s look at both in more detail.

A moving blanket is generally made of a lightweight but tightly woven material that is both soft and cushioning. The primary purpose of the moving blanket is to protect furniture from scratches and nicks. For example, a dining room table would be covered in a blanket so that nothing scratches it during transit. Covering furniture with blankets also allows boxes and other items to be stacked on top.

A moving pad is a thinner product, usually made of a non-woven polyester fabric. It is thinner and lighter because it is intended to be folded or rolled prior to being positioned in the empty space between objects on the truck. Using our previous example of the dining room table, movers may decide to remove the legs in order to place the tabletop on its side. A moving blanket protects the top of the table while pad is placed in between it and a second piece of furniture placed next to it. The pad prevents the two pieces from knocking into one another during transit.

Efficiently Using Moving Blankets and Pads

For moving blankets and pads to perform their intended role,they need to be used efficiently and properly. This includes packing the truck in such a way that it minimizes damage from road vibration and load shifts. It all begins with loading the heaviest items first.

Most movers will cover extremely fragile items with blankets even as they are carrying them out of the house. However, once on the truck, blankets will have to be readjusted. A blanket should cover all exposed surfaces that could come in contact with the back or side of the truck box and other items in the truck. With each successive layer packed up and out, moving pads should be inserted to take up empty space between fragile pieces.

The average move in a 14-foot truck should be manageable with two dozen or so blankets and pads. It always helps to have an extra dozen at hand in case they are needed. The good news for a new moving company is that both blankets and pads are pretty inexpensive. For a couple of hundred dollars, you could get enough blankets and pads to get started. They will pay for themselves with just a few moving jobs.


Marking Tarps for Professionalism and Protection

Flatbed truckers invest a lot of money in vinyl tarps. It is a necessary part of the job given the fact that the driver is responsible for the cargo he or she is carrying from the moment the load is signed off for. Vinyl tarps offer protection against all of the dangers of the open road including debris, weather, and truck exhaust. In that case, why not go a step further? Why not use tarps to advertise your services?

Dry vans and reefers are adorned with all sorts of advertisements letting the whole world know the company behind the trailer. Owner-operators put identifying markers on their tractors for the same purpose. Nevertheless, the flatbed trailer offers nothing by way of marketing or promotion. The trucker can take advantage of this by marking his/her tarps using a stenciling kit that includes vinyl ink.

Professionalism and Protection

A well-marked tarp that has been carefully marked with a stenciling kit demonstrates the professionalism of the driver behind the wheel. Not only does it bear the company name and telephone number, it demonstrates to shippers that a driver has taken the time to do a good job. Straight, neat, stenciled letters helps to promote a professional image.

stencil-kit

As for protection, marking the vinyl tarps with your company name and phone number makes it less likely they will be stolen. Believe it or not, this is something construction contractors do all the time. They use stencils and spray paint to mark everything from ladders to scaffolding to their own vinyl or canvas tarps.

Tips for Marking Your Tarps

Applying your name and telephone number to the vinyl truck tarps is not difficult in principle. However, it is not as easy as buying a run-of-the-mill can of spray paint and going to town. In fact, using spray paint is a bad idea.

Regular spray paint does not adhere well to vinyl materials. A thin coat can wear off quickly just by being exposed to weather conditions. A thick coat may withstand the weather somewhat better, but it can be peeled off with very little effort. The solution is to use a vinyl ink that is specifically designed for use with things such as vinyl and poly truck tarps.

Mytee carries a stenciling kit that includes lettered stencils and a can of vinyl ink from Marsh Shipping Supply Company. Marsh is a leading name in all sorts of marketing materials and equipment, so you can depend on their vinyl ink to work as advertised.

Before you mark your tarps, be sure that they are clean and dry wherever you plan to apply the ink. It is also good idea to apply it indoors if possible. If you do not have an indoor space large enough, be sure to choose a warm and relatively wind-free day for marking.

Spread your tarp flat on the ground and pull it as tightly as possible. It is especially important to get the area you plan to mark as tight and flat as you can. You may have to weigh down the perimeter of the area to be marked using bricks or other heavy objects. Once the vinyl ink is applied, you will need to allow for plenty of drying time. The label on your ink can should tell you how long drying takes.

If you are a flatbed truck operator, you might want to consider marking your vinyl tarps for the purposes of marketing and protection. Identifying your tarps with your company name and phone number is a great way to promote your business while also reducing the chances of theft.


Sometimes You Just Want Canvas

A tarpaulin is to a flatbed truck driver what packing materials are to a shipper. And just like packing materials, tarps protect valuable cargo and come in different varieties for different kinds of jobs. Sometimes, you just want canvas tarps. Tarps made of woven cotton, linen or polyester offer great protection, breathability, and durability.

Canvas is a material that was in use long before there were trucks. In the 13th century, medieval warriors were using canvas to cover their Pavise shields. By the early 15th century, artists were using the material as a medium for painting. Over centuries, canvas has been used for everything from shelter to clothing to sails.

The strength of canvas is the tight plain weave used to produce it. By weaving the threads as tightly as possible, weavers can achieve a very strong material that is water resistant and breathable at the same time. Modern canvas used for things such as tarpaulins and tents are given an extra wax treatment to make them waterproof.

Canvas Truck Tarps

As a material for truck tarps, canvas is woven in varying weights and strengths, graded by number in descending order. This means that the lower the number, the heavier and stronger the material. Truckers prefer heavy-duty duck canvas because of its extremely tight weave.

canvas-tarps

The following are some of the benefits of canvas for truck tarps:

  • Less Abrasion – Poly and vinyl tarps aren’t as responsive to temperature fluctuations as canvas. As a result, they can be somewhat abrasive in colder weather. A big advantage of canvas is that it remains soft and supple regardless of the weather. When you are protecting cargo that is easily scratched, canvas is a better option.
  • Breathability – One of the main reasons for choosing canvas over poly or vinyl is its breathability. Even with a wax coating for waterproofing, canvas allows for airflow more readily than other materials. This is one of the reasons it is preferred in agricultural settings. Canvas is a very good option for loads with which there are some concern about mold and mildew forming.
  • Long-Term Strength – Mankind has been using woven materials for centuries because of their strength. Canvas is no exception. A canvas tarp that is properly cared for can last for decades – potentially even a trucker’s entire career if he/she is careful. As long as you are putting money into tarps, you might as well put some of it into canvas that will last.
  • Application – Canvas tends to be a bit heavier than poly or vinyl which adds to its advantage as it makes canvas tarps easier to apply in breezy conditions. A canvas tarp is less susceptible to catching the wind and taking off when you are trying to tie it down.

It should be obvious that canvas is not the right choice for every job. Nevertheless, when it is, it is hard to beat the benefits it offers. Our best advice to truckers is to look around before you purchase new canvas tarps. Choose a heavy-duty product, such as those we sell here at Mytee, made from a 100% duck cotton canvas. Grommets should be fabric reinforced and hems and seams should be double stitched.

The canvas tarps you purchase will be an investment in your business as a trucker. Therefore, do not be afraid to spend a little more to get the best possible quality. Your investment in heavy-duty canvas tarps today will pay off in the long run by protecting your loads from everything the open road can throw at them.