More from: flatbed trailer

Winch Winders: 5 Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Sometimes the brilliance of a particular tool lies in its simplicity. Oftentimes the most efficient tools are those with the simplest design and just a few moving parts. That certainly is the case with the humble winch winder. As a tool for truckers, the winch winder is brilliant in its simplicity and efficient in its design.

As you probably know, winches are fixed to flatbed trailers for the purposes of holding and winding webbing straps. When you use them, you don’t have to use ratchet straps or chains to secure cargo. You simply run the straps through the winch and wind them in place. When it is time to secure a load, straps can be stretched over the top and secured on the other side. Post-delivery, the straps are wound up and secured again.

 

If you are new to the whole winch winder concept, here are five handy tips that should increase your efficiency:

1. Apply a Bit of Tension

You will get a tighter wind and less crimping if you put a bit of tension on the strap as you’re winding. If you are using a two-handed winch winder, apply the tension with your foot. You could also put a wood block on the ground and run the strap underneath it. The block should be just heavy enough to do the trick but not so heavy as to prevent you from winding.

2.Consider a One-Handed Winder

If using your foot or a block doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can opt for a one-handed winder instead. This particular kind of winder is really just a smaller handle that can be cranked with a single hand while you apply tension with the other.

3. Mount According to Favored Hand

This next tip is one that truck drivers normally don’t think of until after they’ve installed their winches. Here it is: install each unit according to your favored hand. If you are right-handed, install your units with the handle to the right side (as you face it). That means the handles will point to the rear of the trailer on the driver’s side but toward the front on the passenger side.

If you are left-handed, install them in reverse. Make sure the handle is on the left side while facing it. Why do this? Because if the handles are on the opposite side, you will either have to use your non-favored hand to wind or you’ll have to turn sideways to use your favored hand. Neither option is all that efficient.

4. Install Every Foot or So

Next, we recommend installing a winch unit every 12 to 18 inches. Although this may seem like overkill, you know that the size and position of your loads is never the same from one trip to the next. If you do not have enough winches in place, you may find that you’re back to using ratchet straps because certain loads don’t line up with your winches.

5. Maintain Your Equipment

Last but not least, treat your winches and winch winders like every other piece of equipment you have. Maintain them by regularly checking for any kind of damage. Oil them periodically and, should one eventually rust, brush it off and seal it to prevent further rust.

Winch winders are a simple but ingenious invention that makes using webbing straps as easy as can be. With the right number of winches on both sides of the trailer, you will be ready for just about any load. Strap down your cargo with confidence and then, following delivery, quickly wind your straps and get back on the road.


Rigging 101: 3 Fundamental Questions about Shackles

Mytee Products carries a complete range of shackles as part of our rigging inventory. Customers use them to perform heavy lifts, particularly when loading unusual cargo onto flatbed trailers. We know how dangerous such lifts can be, which is why we do our best to encourage customers to adopt a safety-first mindset.

Where shackles are concerned, an important part of safety is thoroughly understanding what they are and how they work. There is not enough space in a single blog post to talk about shackles in detail, but we can offer a few basics. We have done so by way of three fundamental questions that we often hear from customers purchasing shackles for the first time.

 

What are the different kinds of shackles?

Shackles are defined by their shape and the pins they utilize. The purpose in classifying them this way stems from the fact that the shackle has two main paths through which energy travels: the main body and the pin.

In terms of shape, you are looking at anchor-style and chain-style shackles. The former is more circular in shape with the legs tapering toward the center of the shackle’s main body. The latter looks just like a chain link. For purposes of description, these kinds of shackles are sometimes referred to as D-shape shackles.

Pins can be either screw or bolt-type pins. A screw-type pin is just as its name suggests. It has a threaded end that is screwed into the opposite leg of the shackle after insertion. A bolt-type pin slips through both legs and is then secured by either a nut or cotter pin.

What are the biggest concerns when using shackles?

This question is usually born out of inexperience. It is a fair enough question and getting the right answers could mean the difference between a safe lift and an unnecessarily dangerous situation. From our perspective, here are the biggest concerns:

• Replacing manufacturer pins with generic bolts or unidentified pins. A replacement pin that is not strong enough can bend under load.
• Allowing shackles to be pulled at odd angles, thus allowing the legs to open. This could lead to a broken shackle.
• Mistakenly using deformed shackles or those with bent pins. Disaster awaits.
• Purposely forcing pins, or the shackles themselves, into position. This puts unnecessary stress on a shackle.
• Exceeding a 120° angle between multiple sling legs. This puts too much stress on sling and shackle alike.

Most of the concern over lifting with shackles relates to creating unsafe conditions by not using lifting equipment properly. The best way to avoid accidents is to thoroughly understand lifting principles and abide by all generally accepted safe lifting rules.

How often should shackles be inspected?

General guidelines say shackles should be inspected regularly. We prefer a more defined answer: inspect shackles prior to and after each lift. Shackles should be inspected for:

• pin hole elongation and wear
• any bending in the shackle body
• distortion, wear, fractures, or blemishes on pins
• pin straightness and seating
• any distortion in excess of 10% of a shackle’s original body shape.

It is always better to be safe than sorry where shackle inspections are concerned. Some normal wear and tear is expected over the life of a shackle, but wear and tear should not be enough to significantly alter the appearance or function of a shackle. The presence of any significant distortion is reason to discard a shackle.

We carry a variety of rigging equipment and supplies for your convenience. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions about our shackles, slings, etc.


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


Gifts to Fill the Trucker’s Tool Boxes

The average 18-wheeler is equipped with multiple aluminum tool boxes packed full of equipment and supplies. This time of year, truck drivers appreciate receiving the kinds of gifts that can fill their tool boxes for the coming year. Below are some suggestions of items you can purchase here at Mytee Products.

Bear in mind that each of the items on our list is something a flatbed trucker needs on a regular basis. Unfortunately, truckers can get so busy at times that they forget to restock their supplies. If you have a trucker in your life that you are planning to buy for this holiday season, why not get some of the items he or she needs to keep his/her tool boxes fully stocked?

Sliding Winches

Sliding winches run across rails fixed below the bed of a flatbed trailer. Truckers use them to attach the winch straps they use to tie down cargo. Sliding winches do not break all that often, which is why a lot of truckers fail to keep a couple of spares on hand. You can save your favorite trucker hours of frustration by gifting a few sliding winches.

Chain Binders

Chain binders are another specialty item truckers don’t have to replace all that frequently. Having said that, there is a varierty of chain binders for different purposes. The trucker in your life might appreciate you asking if there is a specific binder he or she needs. You could then make the purchase and surprise your loved one on Christmas morning.

Tarp Repair Kits

A trucker’s aluminum tool boxes are likely to include a selection of truck tarps for all sorts of loads. What might be missing is a tarp repair kit. This may not seem like a big deal, but having a tarp repair kit on board could mean the difference between getting a load right away and having to wait until repairs can be made. Truck tarps are an important part of the trucker’s livelihood, so a good repair kit can be invaluable.

Corner and Edge Protectors

It might be hard to imagine that something so seemingly insignificant as a plastic corner protector is like gold to a truck driver. But it is. Truckers use corner and edge protectors of all shapes and sizes to keep cargo safe during transport. Furthermore, the truck driver can never have enough of these handy little devices lying around. Consider stocking your favorite trucker’s tool boxes with a good selection of corner and edge protectors.

Reflective Tape

Reflective tape is another seemingly insignificant item that people just don’t think about. Even truckers do not give reflective tape much thought until they actually need it. You can help your favorite trucker avoid unnecessary down time by throwing a roll or two of reflective tape in his/her stocking this Christmas.

Air Brake Hose

A failing air hose can mean big problems for truckers. That’s why it’s common for them to carry extra hose on board. At the first sign of a potential air brake failure, it doesn’t take much to swap a hose. Thus, gifting air brake hoses to your favorite trucker this holiday season means one less thing he or she needs to worry about on the road.

Bungee straps

If all else fails, the tried and true bungee strap is a fail safe gift for your favorite trucker. Truckers can never have too many bungee straps in their tool boxes. Bungee straps are used every day for a long list of purposes, but they wear out and break all the time. We are positive the trucker in your life would appreciate a bag of bungee straps.


Treating Trucking Supplies as Capital Investments

Owner-operators and independent contractors driving leased equipment are considered under federal law to be self-employed business owners. As such, they are required to keep track of all of their business-related expenses for the purposes of filing accurate reports and tax filings according to federal and state schedules. Unfortunately, some independent truck drivers do not treat what they do as a business. This is a mistake. We can illustrate just why this is by talking about the supplies needed to be a trucker. Those supplies should be treated as capital investments.

 

flatbed

Capital investments, sometimes known as capital expenditures, are defined in the business world as investments in equipment or supplies critical to maintaining or improving the useful life of existing assets. In terms of a flatbed trucker who owns his/her own trailer, the trailer itself would be an existing asset. Installing new tires on that trailer in order to improve its performance and comply with the law would be considered a capital investment.

As our illustration demonstrates, capital investments are almost always made in relation to equipment or supplies. The trucker’s tarps, straps, winches, ratchets, cargo control and so on are all supplies necessary to improve the performance of the flatbed trailer. They are also supplies that are required to do the job of a flatbed trucker. Therefore, they are assets that are obtained through the process of capital investment.

Why Make the Distinction?

Making money in any business requires some degree of discipline to control both income and expenditures. This is why successful companies work with annual budgets prepared by looking at history and future expectations. The company without a budget, regardless of its size and scope, is one at a high risk of failure. This is the whole point of treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments.

When you think of buying supplies as a capital investment, you can start looking at future expenditures in relation to your overall budget. Let’s say your gross income – before taxes and business expenses – is $120,000 annually. Some of that will eventually become the net income you put in your bank account as an ’employee’ of your company. The rest of it will be spent on things such as fuel, truck maintenance, and trucking supplies.

The idea is to work with a budget that projects how much you will spend in the coming year based on historical performance and your expectations of the kind of work you will be taking in the next 12 months. Treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments allows you to plug a number into that budget. Let us use truck tarps as an example.

Let’s assume you replace your flatbed truck tarps every 18 months on average. Most of your tarps are already a year old, so you know they will be replaced sometime during the current budget year. Take the average price you pay for each tarp, multiply it by the number of tarps to be replaced, and enter that number into your budget. That number becomes a capital investment that is essential to keeping your business going.

You might be wondering how all of this helps with the business of running a truck as an owner-operator. Simply put, it forces you to acknowledge at least an estimate of how much will be spent on trucking supplies. This is motivation to set that money aside so that you have it when the time comes. Also it keeps you on the path of owning and operating a successful business that wouldn’t get into cash flow problems. As you estimate your income versus your expenses, it gives you a realistic picture of your business’ short and long term requirements.