More from: cargo control

Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top


6 Important Things to Know about Tire Chains

Do you routinely drive in regions requiring snow chains during the winter? If so, you know all about what it means to chain up before heading into bad weather. If you are new to trucking or winter driving, tire chains may be foreign to you. One thing is for sure in either case: chains can cause a lot of problems if you don’t know how to use them.

Mytee Products carries tire chains for both 22.5-inch in 24.5-inch tire chains. We invite you to purchase your chains through us, along with all your cargo control supplies including tarps, bungee straps, ratchet straps, and edge protectors.

In the interests of advancing public safety, we have compiled a list of six important things to know about tire chains. Know and understand these things, whether you are a veteran or a rookie.

1. Keep to a Safe Speed

Tire chains are only intended to withstand a certain amount of punishment. Drivers should never exceed speeds of 30 mph when chained. Going any faster could cause chains to break while in motion. This could be dangerous for driver and vehicle alike.

2. Avoid Bare Pavement

Tire chains do not hold up well against bare pavement either. So while there may be some instances when it’s necessary to drive short distances on bare pavement, the practice should be avoided as much as possible. As soon as a driver gets through the area of snow-covered roads, he or she should find a place to pull off and remove the chains.

3. Chains Slip on Pavement

Something else to note about chains is they tend to slip on bare pavement. If a driver is braking on bare pavement while still chained up, he/she has to be more gentle in the process. It is very easy to lock up the wheels and slide on chains. On the other end, hitting the gas too aggressively could cause the drive wheels to spin on bare pavement. Drivers should accelerate slowly.

4. Routine Inspections Are Necessary

Truckers will naturally tighten their chains when first deploying them. However, it is generally recommended that chains be inspected and re-tightened at regular intervals. Chains will loosen as the miles roll by, making them subject to breakage.

5. Chained Tighteners Can Cause Problems

Chain tightening devices have a tendency to pull chains off-center if they are not used the right way. A driver who is not intimately familiar with how to use such a device should avoid doing so. There are other ways to effectively tighten chains.

6. State Regulations

Nearly every state in the union has some sort of regulations in place pertaining to tire chains. Truck drivers should make themselves familiar with those regulations in any states where they plan to work during the winter months. Running afoul of the regulations could result in a citation.

Along those same lines, there are a few key regions in the U.S. were chains are mandatory during the winter. In some of these regions truckers will find chains at highway department chain banks. A word to the wise though: drivers should not rely solely on chain banks to meet their needs. If no chains are available when a driver reaches the start of a mandatory chain area, he or she will have to wait until a set is available.

Tire chains are part of winter driving for truck drivers. Hopefully you have had some experience chaining up your truck. If not, you will probably have to learn eventually. Just remember that chaining up is not the end of the world. You will get pretty good at it with enough practice.


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.


What Can Happen When You Don’t Use Corner and Edge Protectors

Some of the products Mytee Products sells are universal among flatbed truck drivers. Tarps are a great example. There are other products that some drivers would rather work without. Corner and edge protectors would be among them. For some reason, there are flatbed drivers who do not want to invest in these rather inexpensive devices that could mean the difference between getting a load to its destination safely and having to explain to the shipper why damage occurred in transit.

You will find that we consistently recommend corner and edge protectors to every flatbed truck who asks. We have a variety of corner and edge protector products in assorted sizes and materials. Most importantly, all of them are comparatively inexpensive. When you understand what these little devices can save you from, investing in them is well worth every penny.

Not convinced? Then consider what can happen when you do not use corner and edge protectors:

You Rip Your Tarps

Even the most innocuous looking cargo can be deadly to your tarps. All it takes is one semi-sharp edge and a good breeze to put a hole in a brand-new tarp you just invested hundreds of dollars in. On the other hand, you could have invested in 4-inch corner protectors for as little as $0.99 each.

The fact is that corner and edge protectors save tarps. Even if you were not interested in protecting your cargo – and that is something we do not recommend – you should at least be concerned about your tarps. You invested in them; why would you not protect them?

You Damage Your Cargo

Obviously, the other side of the coin is damaging your cargo. Corner and edge protectors prevent different pieces of cargo from coming into direct contact with each other. They prevent tarps and straps from rubbing on cargo surfaces as well. For especially sensitive cargo, contact with any other surface can be harmful.

If you ever wondered why some shippers and receivers mandate the use of edge and corner protectors, this is the reason. A lot of damage can be done over just a few hundred miles at 65 mph – damage that could otherwise be prevented simply by using plastic, leather, or metal edge protectors.

You Find Yourself Improvising

In relation to the previous point, you may find yourself improvising if you don’t have corner and edge protectors that a shipper is demanding. Of course, you’re not going to turn down a load if you can improvise. But what do you have to work with?

You might find yourself ripping apart a couple of cardboard boxes in a pinch. We’ve known drivers who have used pieces of PVC pipe, ripped up T-shirts, foam coffee cups, spare work gloves, sneakers, and a whole host of other stand-ins. Such resourcefulness is okay in rare emergency situations, but you’ll never make it as a career trucker if you’re always having to keep shippers happy by improvising on corner and edge protectors.

Shippers and receivers love drivers who are prepared for any kind of load. They want to see rugged edge and corner protectors designed specifically for the job at hand. They do not want to see drivers improvising just because they don’t want to invest in the right equipment.

As a flatbed trucker, it is your responsibility to protect cargo from start to finish. It is smart to protect your own investment in tarps and straps. So do yourself and your customers a favor and purchase a collection of corner and edge protectors. We have never known a driver to regret doing so.


Inventorying Cargo Control for Insurance Purposes

Every truck driver is familiar with the principle of inventorying cargo control supplies in advance of rougher winter weather. You need to know what you have so you know what to buy to be ready for the coming wind, snow, and sleet of winter. Yet the stormy summer of 2017 has been a reminder that there is another important reason to inventory your cargo control equipment and supplies: insurance claims.

Whether you are an owner-operator or work for a carrier, cargo control equipment and supplies are considered part of the business to which they belong. As such, any losses relating to things like tarps and toolboxes are subject to insurance claims.

The problem is that you cannot claim what you do not know you have. Furthermore, you can only make claims based on events and subsequent damage as outlined in your policy. You may have pieces in your inventory that are already suffering from minor wear or damage; they may not be eligible for an insurance claim should that wear or damage lead to a catastrophic failure during a storm.

Know Exactly What You Have

The one side of the insurance inventory coin dictates that you need to know exactly what you have on board at any given time. So, create a running inventory of everything you own. We are talking tarps, ratchet straps, ratchets and binders, corner and edge protectors, bungee straps, blocks, chains, and everything else you use for cargo control.

Where tarps are concerned, it is important to distinguish exactly what kinds of tarps you have. You may have a variety that includes steel, lumber, and smoke tarps. You may have a larger number of machinery tarps than anything else; that would be noted in your inventory.

Binders are another item that you may possess in different variations. Be sure to detail every binder in your box according to type. And while you’re at it, make sure to inventory your hand tools as well. They can be claimed if they are lost in an accident or storm.

Know the Condition of Each Item

Taking inventory for the purpose of determining the condition of your cargo control supplies is important for a couple of reasons. First is the issue explained earlier in this post: you may not be able to claim a piece of equipment that was already showing signs of wear or damage prior to the incident in question. In fact, if the failure of such a piece of equipment contributed to a loss of cargo, that cargo may not be fully covered either.

The second reason condition is important has to do with the kind of insurance coverage you have. Your policy might offer to pay the replacement value of lost cargo control supplies, or it may pay the actual value. Replacement value is the amount of money it would take to replace an item at its current retail price. Actual value is the is real value of an item based on its age, condition, etc.

Actual value dictates that things like tarps and ratchet straps are worth less over time. That is not necessarily good or bad, but it is further motivation to make sure all your cargo control supplies are in good working condition.

While you are conducting an inventory, you may discover that you are short on one or two items. We have you covered here at Mytee Products. You will find everything you need for safe and efficient cargo control in our online store.