Truck drivers use flatbed steel tarps of all sizes to secure and protect their loads. Given the time-consuming nature of tarping loads, a nonprofessional may wonder why flatbed trailers are used at all. It comes down to the fact that some loads just cannot be put into enclosed box trailers very easily. Steel coils are but one example. Flatbed trailers make for easier loading and unloading using forklifts and other heavy lifting equipment.
Tarps are used to protect a load against the elements as well as road debris and animals. However, tarps are also about improving highway safety. A high-quality truck tarp enhances safety by improving the profile of a load and helping to keep that load securely in place.
The vast majority of loads hauled on flatbed trailers have unusually shaped profiles. In fact, an unusual profile is one of the reasons a given load might be transported on a flatbed rather than an enclosed trailer. Left untarped, these loads also present a certain amount of danger by way of road debris.
For example, consider a load of steel coils. A flatbed trailer might be carrying six spools of steel coil, loaded consecutively with each spool securely against the others beside it. Nevertheless, no matter how tightly the spools are packed on the trailer, there is always empty space between them. That empty space could catch road debris and hold it temporarily. A few miles down the road, the debris could be dislodged, flying through the air and striking a car.
A heavy-duty steel tarp reduces that risk by providing a more uniform profile. What’s more, it eliminates the dead space where road debris can collect. Any debris flying through the air as the truck goes down the highway will be deflected off in most cases. Although cars and other vehicles could still be negatively impacted, the risk is greatly reduced.
A truck driver would never use tarps alone to secure a load. However, a heavy-duty tarp does add an extra layer of protection in case one of the other systems fails. Again, let us talk about steel coils as an example.
A load of steel coil will be braced on either end with timbers designed to keep the spools from rolling. Each individual spool will be secured to the flatbed using a chain; larger loads might also be secured by tying each spool to the one next to it using a heavy-duty chain.
With a strong, properly secured tarp in place, a load would remain relatively safe even if one of the chains holding a center spool broke. The tarp would keep the spool secure long enough for the driver to get to a safe place where he or she could re-secure it with a new chain.
As you can see, steel tarps are important for highway safety as well as protecting a load. For the trucker, that means choosing tarps wisely. Tough fabrics combined with high quality construction offer maximum load protection and increased safety.