America’s over the road truck drivers have three primary kinds of work to choose from: refrigerated (refer) hauling, dry van hauling, and flatbed hauling. Few drivers would argue that sometimes flatbed truckers have the most challenging of roles to fulfill. The primary reasons arises when drivers have to drive in extreme weather conditions and gauge what changes in climate at their point of destination. The secondary reason could be that an inexperienced driver would not be knowledgeable enough to utilize his tarping gear to secure the cargo and have a safe trip.
What does flatbed driving appear to be such a difficult task? The answer to this is – load securing is key to a drivers track record and the company’s reputation in protecting their customers cargo. Drivers are responsible for the security of their loads from the moment they drive out of the shipping yard to the moment the receiver unloads the cargo. Not only do they have to ensure cargo remains securely on board, they also have to take the necessary steps to prevent damage along the way. And in most cases, that means applying tarps both, efficiently and effectively. Considering the following tarps allows a driver to determine which ones are best suited to protect their load:
•Steel Tarps – steel tarps are the most commonly used in flatbed trucking. They are quite large and generally flat and rectangle so that they can be used to cover virtually any cargo. The average flatbed trucker will own several of these, all stored in a utility box or a rack behind the cab.
•Coil Tarps – coil tarps are smaller tarps designed primarily to cover loads of coil, cabling or other similar products. A good coil tarp is dome-shaped in order to accommodate the coils with a tight fit that reduces drag and flapping.
•Lumber Tarps – lumber tarps can be a bit more challenging to apply as they are the heaviest and due to their side and back flaps. Lumber tarps are designed in this way to protect an entire load from top to bottom.
•Smoke Tarps – The smallest in tarp family are smoke tarps. These are used at the front of the load when the load requires protection from exhaust. As they are smaller, these can be applied quickly and easily.
Based on these four choices, that the means of covering a load are not universal. A driver must assess each load to determine the best way to protect it. Then comes the crucial process of applying and securing tarps.
The Smart Flatbed Driver
For drivers to do a good job of securing tarp over their cargo, one must consider the profile of the driver.Those who choose flatbed driving as a career have the ability to think of solutions to a problem ( weather, load size etc) and also have the physical disposition to haul an average tarp that generally weighs between 50-100lbs.
It is due to these factors that Flatbed truck drivers get paid handsomely compared to their counterparts in other sectors of the trucking driving industry. Better pay also results in a better retention rate, so understanding tarps and efficiently using them can result in a long term flatbed trucking career