More from: cargo control

Auto Hauling: A Very Different Kind of Trucking

What is the most lucrative form of trucking? Is it dry goods or reefers? Or maybe it’s flatbed trucking. Perhaps the most lucrative way to make a living as a truck driver is hauling flammable or hazardous materials. The point here is that the definition of ‘lucrative’ has more to do with preference than anything else. Having said that, auto hauling deserves some consideration. If not the most lucrative, it is certainly a very different kind of trucking.

hauling

Auto haulers come in all shapes and sizes, as it were. There are employed truck drivers working for companies that specialize in carrying cars from distribution centers to local dealerships. There are independent operators who carry used cars from wholesalers in the South to small dealers in the North. There are even truck drivers who specialize in moving luxury and classic cars.

Auto hauling is very different for a number of reasons. From the equipment to the necessary skills, it is a career a lot of drivers aspire to but never attain. Here’s what makes auto hauling so different:

The Equipment

First and foremost is the equipment necessary for this kind of work. The owner-operator starts with a custom rig. Believe it or not, trucks and trailers for auto hauling have to be matched. You cannot just use any auto trailer on the back of any tractor. As a result, auto hauling rigs are significantly more expensive.

Next, owner-operators have to have a pretty significant supply of auto hauling equipment including hooks, shackles, rope clips, straps, and chains. There may not be any other form of trucking that requires so many pieces of equipment for a single run.

The Skill

Auto hauling is very different in terms of the skills a driver needs. What so many do not realize is that cars have to be loaded and secured in a certain way in order to prevent damage on the road. But loading and securing is not necessarily a cookie-cutter operation. Auto haulers have to account for different makes and models, different weights, potential weather conditions, and more.

Skill also comes into play on the actual journey. Drivers need to take a little bit of extra care due to the precious value of their cargo, especially when they are hauling expensive luxury or classic cars. They should be careful about accelerating and braking; they have to be careful about cornering; they need to be extremely cautious in bad weather.

The Experience

Just about every sector of the truck driving industry is affected by the conundrum of companies only wanting experienced drivers but new drivers not being able to get experience because they can’t find a job. Nowhere is this conundrum more prevalent than in auto hauling. Because auto hauling is so much more involved than simply applying some hooks and shackles, haulers almost always insist their new drivers have at least a couple of years under their belts – even if that time was spent hauling something else.

Drivers with extensive flatbed experience typically have an easier time breaking into auto hauling because they are already experienced with securing loads. They have used things such as hooks, chains and straps for cargo control. Suffice it to say that owner-operators who want to get into auto hauling have to work for it.

Here at Mytee Products, we are acutely aware of what it takes to be a successful auto hauler. We want to do our part by maintaining a solid inventory of auto hauling supplies for America’s owner-operators. From shackles and rope clips to auto hauling straps, we have everything the owner-operator needs.


How to Withstand the Big Challenges of Flatbed Cargo Control

It is a generally accepted rule in the trucking industry that flatbed loads are worth more money than dry van loads. The reason is simple: truck drivers have to put a lot more effort into protecting cargo being carried on the back of a flatbed trailer. They cannot simply hook up and go. They have to safely secure the load at a minimum; in some cases, loads also have to be covered with flatbed truck tarps.

It is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to make sure cargo arrives at its destination in perfect condition. As you might expect, there are plenty of things along the way that can cause problems. Drivers need to choose the right kind of cargo control equipment, and deploy it correctly, to prevent damage to whatever they are carrying.

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Here are the three biggest challenges of flatbed cargo control:

1. Weather Conditions

The biggest foe  for flatbed cargo is weather. For example, what appears to be a light rain standing in a stationary position instantly becomes driving in rain at 60 mph. New flatbed drivers are often surprised by how much damage a bit of rain can do. But it’s not just rain. Snow, sleet, ice, wind, and even sunshine can all cause problems.

A truck driver’s best protection against the weather is the standard truck tarp. Mytee Products carries a variety of truck tarps in different sizes and configurations. Our steel tarps are ideal for steel coil and tubing while lumber tarps come with side and back flaps to fully cover sensitive lumber loads. We also carry machinery and smoke tarps as well.

A driver’s choice of tarps can mean the difference between keeping cargo safe and delivering it with damage. That’s why we encourage investing in a full selection of high-quality tarps. The better a truck driver’s tarps, the less risk to his or her cargo.

2. Road Vibration

Most people do not understand the destructive power of road vibrations. Experienced flatbed truckers know full well that these vibrations can cause significant problems. It doesn’t take much to damage cargo, which is why flatbed truckers make use of things such as blocks, edge protectors, and pads to protect cargo from vibration-related damage.

How much of a problem is road vibration? Well, consider the principle of wrapping stemware and porcelain dishes in newspaper before moving. The reason for doing so is to protect them from vibration. Just a few miles of minor vibration can cause sensitive stemware to reach a frequency that causes it to shatter. The same principle holds true for flatbed trucking. Road vibrations have to be dampened to protect cargo with effective cargo control equipment.

3. Load Shifting

Hand-in-hand with road vibration is the third big challenge of cargo control: load shifting. Flatbed truck drivers take steps to ensure the cargo they are carrying is loaded onto the trailer in such a way as to keep weight evenly distributed across the platform. Even weight distribution is critical to both safety and fuel mileage.

What should be understood is that even a shift of just a few inches can compromise safety. Load shifts also carry the potential of making cargo less secure to the point that it could be dropped. This is why truckers use things like blocks and chains to keep cargo in place.

The three big challenges of cargo control are weather, road vibrations, and load shifting. The good news for truck drivers is that Mytee Products has everything needed for effective cargo control. From tarps to chains to winches and straps, you will find everything you need for protecting cargo here on our website.


How to Identify Different Types of Flatbed Trailer Parts

One of the things we’ve come to learn over the years with regards to flatbed trucking, is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for every kind of load. Just browse our inventory of truck tarps and you will see what we mean. Lumber requires one kind of tarp while steel coil is better protected with another. The differences in load carrying and cargo control go beyond just tarps, though. There are even different types of flatbed trailers that carriers and drivers can choose from.

load-leveler

People with some flatbed experience tend to think of the standard flatbed trailer most often. This trailer is typically no more than 48 feet long with a bed that is between 4 and 5 feet off the ground. Standard flatbed trailers are suitable for all kinds of loads that do not qualify as wide or tall.

Carriers and drivers have several others to work with:

Removable Goosenecks

Also known as RGNs, these trailers have removable goosenecks that allow them to drop down so that the front can be used as a ramp. It is a good trailer option for construction equipment.

Step Decks 

Step deck trailers have a lower deck to accommodate loads that are too tall to fit under standard overpasses. These trailers can be coupled with trailer loading ramps to allow construction equipment to be driven into place before being secured.

Side Kit Trailers 

The side kit flatbed trailer is one with removable sides. The sides can be deployed for loads that would normally fit inside the width of a dry goods van, then removed again for loads that do not work well in confined spaces. They are very popular for transporting steel.

Stretch Trailers

Stretch trailers are usually removable goosenecks with built-in extensions that can be deployed to carry extra-long loads.

Double Drops

A double drop trailer has higher decks at the front and rear and a lower deck in the center. Like step decks, they are ideal for loads that are otherwise too tall based on legal limits.

Each of these trailers can accommodate unique loads that do not fit well inside dry goods vans. But the cargo being hauled still has to be protected. That is where the different kinds of truck tarps come in.

Securing and Protecting Cargo

Truck tarps are just one component of a much larger system of cargo control and protection. State laws require truck drivers to properly secure their cargo prior to departing on a journey. Cargo must be routinely inspected to make sure it remains secure throughout. As for protection, it is up to drivers to make sure their cargo gets to its destination in good condition.

Truck tarps serve to provide the protection drivers need. A good, high-quality truck tarp will provide years of reliable service protecting cargo from road debris, sunlight, moisture, and other sources of potential damage. Yet maximum protection means choosing the right tarp for the right kind of load.

Mytee’s inventory includes every kind of truck tarp the flatbed trucker needs. We carry lumber tarps, steel tarps, coil tarps, and machinery tarps. We also offer smaller smoke tarps designed to protect cargo from exhaust stack soot. All our tarps are made with high-quality materials and to the most stringent standards.

Flatbed trucking is by no means a uniform enterprise. There are different kinds of trailers used to carry different types of loads, and a full range of truck tarps that drivers can deploy to protect those loads. Here at Mytee we have all the truck tarps and cargo control supplies you will need. You’ll have to handle the trailers yourself.


Things to Consider before you Buy a Trailer Tool Box

So, you are a new flatbed trucker in the process of getting your rig together so you can start searching for loads. You’ve heard other truckers tell you to purchase several tool boxes to carry all your cargo control supplies. That is good advice. You will probably need at least two boxes, if not more. You’re going to need the space to store all your tarps along with your winches, straps, chains, etc.

tool-box

It might take some time for you to figure out a tool box configuration that works for you. To help you make wise purchase decisions, we have put together a list of things to think about as you are shopping. Don’t hesitate to ask other truckers for their advice as well. You can learn a lot from veteran flatbed truck drivers.

Tool Box Position

The first thing to consider is where you plan to position your trailer tool boxes. Why is this important? Because tool boxes have doors that can get in your way if you don’t place them correctly. For example, consider a tool box that you plan to mount underneath the trailer bed for tarp storage. You have to look at how the door of that box will operate.

Some tool boxes offer doors that open from the top down, protruding outward in the open position. This kind of arrangement might be suitable for a box mounted near the front of your trailer where you are not likely to need a lot of access. But the door could get in the way if that same box is mounted toward the rear of the trailer. A better option might be a tool box with a door that opens from the front and hangs below the box.

Space Requirements

You will require larger boxes to store truck tarps while smaller boxes are suitable for straps, winches, and hand tools. The reality is you might not know what your space requirements are until you have been on the road for a while. So we recommend at least one large box to handle your tarps along with another small box for straps and winches should be fine. You can add additional space in the future if you need to.

Construction Materials

Most flatbed tool boxes these days are made with high-grade aluminum (with steel doors). This sort of configuration gives adequate strength without adding unnecessary weight. Having said that, you can buy some pretty hefty tool boxes that are rather heavy. Just remember that every pound added to your rig has an effect on fuel mileage. The idea is to use as few tool boxes as necessary and to purchase boxes that are as lightweight as possible without compromising strength.

Brand Reputation

As with anything else, the reputation of a given brand says a lot about what you’re paying for. Brand-name products tend to be more reliable than their generic counterparts, hence the fact that they cost more. A higher price tag is certainly warranted when it comes to flatbed tool boxes.

Mounting Bracket Needs

Lastly, you’re going to need mounting brackets to properly secure your tool boxes. Make sure the brackets you choose are compatible with your boxes, or you could find yourself having to rig something up. Should you purchase from Mytee Products – and we hope you will – we have mounting brackets suitable for all the tool boxes we sell.

Tool boxes serve as critical storage space for flatbed truckers. As a new trucker, you are going to find that your tool box needs change over time. Rest assured, Mytee has everything you need for effective cargo control.

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Automated Truck Loading and Cargo Control: What to Expect

There has been an unstoppable flow of information relating to self-driving trucks coming from the media over the last 4 to 6 months. Now we are hearing news of a European company on the verge of bringing automated truck loading technology to our shores. So what does it all mean? More specifically, what does it mean to flatbed truck drivers and cargo control?

In terms of self-driving trucks, all truck drivers and carriers will be affected in the same way should it become a reality. If self-driving trucks ever become the norm – and there are valid reasons to believe they will not – there is no telling what will happen to America’s truck drivers. However, automated trucks on a national scale are still a long way away. Of greater interest right now is the concept of automated truck loading.

cargo-control

Load and Unload in Mere Minutes

The automatic truck loading concept is one of using mechanized, robotic systems to load and unload trailers without the need for human intervention. According to some news reports, what can now take between 30 and 45 minutes for forklift operator can be completed in about 3 minutes using an automated system. The company behind the technology says its systems are available for both enclosed trailers and flatbeds.

We can see the potential of this technology for dry goods vans being virtually unlimited. Not so much for flatbeds. An automated system could certainly load pallets and even loose cargo on the back of a flatbed, but that cargo still must be secured by the driver. Cargo control is something that simply cannot be automated at this point. Whether it ever will be, remains to be seen.

Cargo control on a flatbed trailer involves a lot of different components that could make automation impossible:

  •  Weight Distribution – Unlike dry goods vans, cargo carried on flatbed trailers is not necessarily uniform in size or weight. Therefore, freight should be loaded with weight balancing and overall size of the load in mind.
  • Cargo Movement – Cargo movement is a big concern on flatbed trailers for obvious reasons. When a trucker is hauling materials such as steel coil, those coils can move during travel if not properly secured. So truckers would be required to use wood blocks and chains to keep things in place.
  • Cargo Cover – Flatbed truck drivers are in the unique position of having to protect their cargo with the use of truck tarps. There are different kinds of tarps used for various types of loads, and each one is secured in a different way. How tarping could be automated is difficult to imagine.
  • Cargo Protection – Underneath a truck’s tarps are things such as corner protectors deployed to protect both cargo and the tarps that cover it. All the cargo protection components have to be deployed by hand for maximum protection.

One last thing to consider is that flatbed truck drivers are required to check the security of their cargo within the first 50 miles of departure. They are then expected to carry out routine checks whenever they stop for fuel, inspections, or to rest for the night. Even if cargo control were eventually automated, someone would still have to keep an eye on cargo in transit to make sure it remains secure.

The Human Touch

It is intriguing to think that both trucks and loading systems will be automated in the near future. But that is probably not reality. Humans are still necessary – at least for cargo control – and likely will be for the foreseeable future. Cargo control could probably be too complex for automation.

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