Basic Principles of Hay Tarp Safety

While conducting a brief review of past blog posts, it occurred to us that it would be a good idea to share safety tips involving hay tarps. We talk a lot about trucker safety for cargo control, but apparently the topic of hay tarp safety hasn’t been addressed. This post aims to change that.

It is important to start an ongoing discussion centered around using hay tarps safely, beginning with this post covering a few basic principles. We may produce future posts that get into more advanced principles for hay stacking, tarping, and moisture control.

If you are looking for a way to protect your hay without using a barn or storage shed, Mytee Products has several options to choose from. We carry a full line of hay tarps along with temporary storage structures made with galvanized steel pipe and heavy-duty PE fabric.

And now, on to the basic principles of hay tarp safety.

Principle #1: Limit the Size of Your Stacks

We never cease explaining to truckers how dangerous it is to walk on the top of a load to secure tarps. In fact, we recommend avoiding the practice if at all possible. The same applies to stacks of hay. Every new layer you add to a stack also adds height. If your stacks are too high, you may find you have to climb on top in order to properly secure tarps. Remember: with height comes increased danger in the event of a fall.

It is best to limit your stacks to 10 or 12 feet, at the most. If you do have to climb on top, make sure you use an extension ladder long enough to elevate you above the top of the stack as you climb on. Attempting to get on top of a stack using a stepladder is just not wise.

Principle #2: Don’t Tarp Under Windy Conditions

Avoid attempting to deploy tarps on windy days. Hay growers, like truck drivers, sustain a good number of their tarp-related injuries as a result of wind catching tarps. If you absolutely must deploy a tarp on a windy day, make sure you stand up wind of your haystack. Then, if the wind does catch the tarp, it will blow away from you instead of against you.

Principle #3: Get Help When Tarping

Hey tarps are a lot heavier than you might think. Therefore, do yourself a favor and get help when you are ready to cover your hay. There is no need to be a hero by trying to tarp yourself. Being a hero could result in a hernia, a back injury, or something worse.

Principle #4: Wear Protective Gear

You will most likely be using straps or bungee cords to secure your tarps. As such, you should wear head and eye protection. You never know when something could snap back and strike you with enough force to knock you on your backside. The last thing you need is a head or eye injury.

Principle #5: Check Grommets before Deploying

With the exception of damaged seams, the weakest link on any hay tarp is its grommets. You can go a long way toward remaining safe by inspecting every grommet prior to deployment. If a grommet appears even slightly damaged or loose, do not use it. Either get the tarp fixed or work around the grommet in question.

At Mytee Products, we firmly believe in the safety-first mindset. We encourage our hay tarp customers to use the utmost care when covering hay stacks this fall. Your hay can be replaced; you cannot be.


Easy Care and Maintenance Tips for Ratchet Straps

Your ratchet straps are among the most important tools you own as a flatbed trucker. Without ratchet straps, you would be left to secure everything you haul with chains and ropes. Imagine the amount of work that would be! Be that as it may, you need to protect your investment in ratchet straps by taking care of each one as though it were gold.

The thing about ratchet straps is that they are not invincible. They can wear out and break over time. A good goal is to maximize the life of your straps by taking care of them as best you can. To that end, we recommend a handful of easy care and maintenance tips gleaned from experienced drivers who have visited our warehouse.

Keep Straps Out of the Sun

The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down both nylon and polyester fibers. This is what causes ratchet straps to discolor and become brittle. It is best to keep straps out of the sun when they are not in use. For our money, the best way to go is to either store your ratchet straps in an exterior toolbox or somewhere in the back of your cab.

Note that the sun will eventually damage webbing material to a point of reducing its strength. Keep an eye on discoloration as the first signal. When a strap looks unusually pale, be extra vigilant in your visual inspections. Webbing material that has lost almost all its color is probably on its way out.

Don’t Store Wet Straps

Mold and mildew are never a truck driver’s friends. They are especially damaging to ratchet straps inasmuch as mold and mildew can weaken fibers over time. Therefore, treat your ratchet straps the same way you treat your tarps in terms of moisture. Never store a wet strap except in an emergency situation. Instead, let it thoroughly dry before putting it away. If you do end up with mold on a strap, do not use a chlorine-based product to clean it. Use a product that is friendly to the webbing material the strap is made of.

Remove Webbing from Handles

When taking ratchet straps out of use, be sure to remove webbing from the handles. This prevents the webbing from getting too tightly wrapped around the spindle or catching on the teeth of the ratchet. You’ll find that your ratchet straps last a lot longer just by following this one simple tip.

Wrap Webbing around the Ratchet

With webbing removed from the handle, we recommend wrapping it entirely around the ratchet and securing it with a rubber band. This protects the ratchet from road vibration while also keeping everything in your toolbox neat and tidy.

Lubricate the Ratchets

Finally, be sure to lubricate your ratchets with a dry silicone spray or industrial lubricating oil. We recommend against solvents like WD-40, as their lubricating properties are rather short-lived. Whatever your lubricant of choice, use it carefully and sparingly. Do your best to avoid allowing lubricant to come in contact with strap webbing.

As always, thoroughly inspect ratchet straps as you are tying down your load. If you ever question the integrity of a strap or ratchet, don’t use it. You are better off being safe than sorry. Remember that it only takes one failure to create big problems. Those are problems you do not need.

Mytee Products is your source for everything flatbed trucking, including ratchet straps. Before you take to the road for your next job, make sure you have all the straps, tarps, and protectors, and bungee straps you need.


Tips for Hauling Sensitive Industrial Machinery

As a flatbed trucker, have you ever had the experience of hauling sensitive industrial machinery that the shipper expects to arrive with nary a scratch? If so, you know how challenging this can be. Road vibration can be an absolute killer when it comes to industrial machinery. Just a little vibration can do a lot of damage, even if you are not going thousands of miles.

To say that hauling industrial machinery is more than just tying it down with bungee straps is to state the obvious. These kinds of loads require a little TLC along with a basic understanding of how road vibrations affect different kinds of cargo. It can take years to learn all the tricks of the trade for protecting sensitive machinery.

If you are new to the flatbed industry, don’t be afraid to take sensitive industrial machinery loads. Consider such loads a challenge. Then do what you can to learn how to transport them safely, including heeding the tips explained below.

Prepare Machinery Properly

The first step in hauling sensitive industrial machinery is to prepare the cargo for loading. The good news is that shippers often take care of this stuff themselves. It is fairly common for truckers to arrive at the yard and find machines already wrapped in cardboard and plastic, and secured to pallets. If that is not the case, the driver should insist that the shipper prepare the machines properly.

Loading and Positioning

Once the loading process begins, the truck driver is in control. The driver is ultimately responsible for the cargo from the moment it touches his/her trailer to the moment it is taken off, so make the effort to protect yourself by taking the lead in the loading process. The idea is to guarantee machinery is loaded in a way that allows you to protect it through your cargo control procedures.

The general rule for sensitive industrial machinery is to keep individual pieces from making direct contact with one another, if possible. Keep them as far apart as you can. If the number of pieces being loaded dictates that they have to be placed relatively close to one another, you’ll have to use your best judgment.

Edge Protectors, Blankets, and Tie-Downs

This next part of the process is the most critical of all. After machinery has been put into position, it’s now up to you to eliminate all risk of damage. You should immediately begin thinking about corner and edge protectors. Wherever you can place one, you should. Use corner and edge protectors to prevent direct contact among multiple pieces of machinery. You also want to prevent contact between machinery and your tie-downs and tarps.

If need be, you may want to throw moving blankets over the top of the machinery and into empty spaces. Then securely tighten everything down with ratchet straps. There should be something between every strap and the machinery it secures, whether that be an edge protector or blanket.

Keep Tarps Taught

Our last tip is to keep your tarps taught throughout the entire journey. There is nothing more frustrating than going to great lengths to protect sensitive machinery only to find that a tarp left flapping in the wind caused some damage.

The trucker’s best friend for this job is the bungee strap. Tarps can be secured to the bed of the trailer using bungee straps at every grommet. The driver can then use bungee rope or a series of straps connected to go around the perimeter of the cargo. Securing the perimeter at the top and bottom will keep tarps tight and in place.

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5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Tarps

In just a few short weeks, we at Mytee Products will begin seeing an influx of truck drivers coming in to stock up on tarps in preparation for the winter. Many of our customers have been driving trucks long enough to know exactly what they need. Others, might not be so sure of what they need to buy – especially if this is their first winter on the road.

We believe the best way to assemble a collection of tarps is to ask the five questions posed below. These questions help truck drivers better understand what they need, covering everything from standard steel to canvas tarps.

1. How do different tarps vary?

We carry a range of vinyl and canvas tarps in different shapes and sizes. We don’t do so simply because we like variety. It turns out that each kind of tarp has its own unique purpose. As for vinyl and canvas, the two materials have their strengths and weaknesses.

New drivers should do a little research to learn about coil, steel, lumber, smoke, and machinery tarps. They should also educate themselves on the difference between vinyl and canvas. Once a driver knows all the differences, he or she can evaluate what is necessary to get through winter.

2. Which tarps best suit my needs?

Driver needs are as varying as the loads they carry. A driver who earns most of his or her living carrying loads of steel coil will probably invest mainly in those two kinds of tarps. Another driver who concentrates mainly on lumber will invest heavily in lumber tarps. Most drivers don’t have the luxury of focusing on a particular type of cargo, though. Therefore, they have to carry a selection of different tarps on board.

3. How will a particular tarp perform?

There is always the question of how a particular tarp might perform if used to cover cargo for which it was not originally intended. For example, consider a driver who focuses mainly on lumber. If he were to accept one or two machinery loads every year, would those lumber tarps in the toolbox still perform well? The idea here is that while a variety of tarps are usually recommended, a driver does not need to invest unnecessarily if some of the tarps in the box can be multi-functional.

4. What sizes do I need?

Truck tarps come in a variety of sizes to accommodate different loads. We know drivers who purchase only the smallest tarps because these are the easiest to use. They would rather deploy multiple smaller tarps then wrestle with bigger ones. But that’s all driver preference. If you want to invest in tarps of multiple sizes, purchase an equal number of all.

5. Do I know how to care for tarps?

Last but not least is the pesky question of caring for truck tarps. Although truck tarps are generally not high maintenance items, they do require a certain amount and type of care if a trucker wants to get maximum life out of each purchase. It should be noted that caring for canvas tarps is different than caring for vinyl tarps. There are also different ways to repair tarps depending on the material used.

Autumn is the season when we see a lot of truck drivers stocking up on their tarps ahead of winter. If you need to bolster your inventory, Mytee Products has everything you need. From vinyl steel tarps to heavy duty canvas tarps, you will find everything you need to complete your inventory here. Feel free to order online or, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, visit our Ohio warehouse.


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.