More from: Flatbed

4 Loads That Are Perfect for the Flatbed Trailer Side Kit

The flatbed trailer side kit is one of those products truckers are not sure if they really need. Technically speaking, a side kit is really not necessary to make a living as a flatbed trucker. But owning one does increase your job opportunities. Some shippers expect their loads to be secured in specific ways, and sometimes that means using a side kit.

If you are new to the flatbed game, a side kit is essentially an on-demand enclosure that can completely cover a load from top to bottom much the same way a dry van does. The advantage of the side kit is that it can be installed and removed as needed. Use it when you need it; keep it stored when you don’t.

Here are four kinds of loads that are perfect for the side kit:

1. Loose Agricultural Products

Agricultural products that will not be damaged under their own weight usually don’t have to be pack too carefully for transport. All the truck driver really needs to do is protect the crop against moisture, sunlight, and road debris. The side kit is perfect for this. We are talking about crops like corn, watermelon, and soybeans, by the way.

Along those same lines, there are agricultural products normally transported in crates that can also be handled with a flatbed and side kit. The advantage of the side kit is that the product can be loaded directly onto the trailer without first having to create it. A side kit makes the job faster and more efficient.

2. Industrial Machinery

The majority of flatbed truckers transport industrial machinery just by securing it in place and throwing tarps over it. But as you may already know, industrial machinery comes in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes that do not necessarily make standard tarping easy. Some pieces can be downright impossible to keep completely covered just with tarps alone.

A side kit completely encloses already secured machinery. There are no worries of tarps flying off en route. There are no concerns over damaging tarps on sharp edges. There is no need to use edge protectors and other peripheral equipment normally used in the tarping process.

3. Weather-Sensitive Loads

As wonderful as truck tarps are, they cannot always keep out the weather entirely. Loads extra sensitive to precipitation and sun might be better off enclosed by a side kit rather than covered only in tarps. Loads could be anything from designer building materials to sensitive manufacturing equipment. If there is a need to take special precautions against moisture and sun, a side kit is usually a better option than tarps alone.

4. Wind-Sensitive Loads

Similar to weather sensitive loads are those sensitive to the wind. We are talking about loads that are unusually light, loads that can easily be tossed about at highway speeds if wind were allowed to get underneath them. It might be a lot easier in such cases for the truck driver to install a side kit rather than having to go to great lengths to make sure there is no possibility of wind getting between tarp and load.

Side kits do take some time to install and remove, so they are not ideal for every job. But some jobs require an extra level of protection that tarps alone do not offer. These are the kinds of jobs that are ideal for side kits. If you are a flatbed trucker and you do not own one, now is the time to get one. A side kit will give you more opportunities to find work and make money.


Installing Headache Racks and Bulkheads: A Smart Move

Every now and then if you look up an online trucker forums, you will come across questions from new flatbed drivers asking whether headache racks and bulkheads are required by law. The questions are reasonable given the rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate cargo control. Thankfully, the questions are easy to answer.

Headache racks and bulkheads are not required by federal regulations. However, using them is still smart as it protects cargo and prevents damage. If a truck owner has the opportunity to install one or both without causing major inconvenience or financial stress, it would not make sense to decline said opportunity.

What the Law Says

A quick perusal of the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook makes it clear that truck drivers are required by law to make sure cargo is properly secured. This includes doing whatever is necessary to prevent forward movement. In a flatbed situation, that means making sure that either tie-downs or some sort of barrier is in place to prevent cargo from moving forward on the trailer.

The handbook includes numerous illustrations along with hard numbers demonstrating what the law requires. It shows the difference between preventing forward movement with a bulkhead and doing it just with tiedown straps instead. The important thing to know is that the law requires a certain number of tie-downs, based on the length and weight of the cargo, if no bulkhead or headache rack is in place.

Drivers also have to pay attention to the working load limits (WLLs) of their tiedown straps. These limits are part of the calculation necessary to determine the number of tie-downs necessary to prevent forward movement of cargo. Too few tie-downs equal a violation.

Meeting the Demands of Customers

Although federal law does not mandate the use of headache racks or bulkheads, there are some shippers who are particular about their usage. Two good examples are rail and pipe loads. A shipper may insist that an owner-operator utilize a bulkhead just for an extra measure of safety.

Such requests do not seem unreasonable for certain kinds of cargo. A contained, rectangular load is fairly easy to secure against forward movement with straps over the top and around the front. But it is not so easy for a load of pipe. And whether or not a truck driver agrees, shippers insisting on bulkheads are not going to release a load until they are confident it will be secure during transport.

From our perspective, insisting on a bulkhead or headache rack for certain kinds of loads is no different than shippers insisting that tarps be used. Their main priority is to protect cargo and limit liability. Preventing forward movement via a bulkhead or headache rack may be the best way to do it in their eyes.

Buy What You Need from Mytee Products

Given the federal mandates for securing cargo and the fact that some shippers insist on bulkheads or headache racks, it just makes sense to install one or both on your equipment. You will be pleased to know that Mytee Products has everything you need. We carry both headache racks and bulkheads, along with the appropriate mounting systems.

Headache racks and bulkheads may not be required by law, but it’s still smart to use them. Both prevent forward movement of cargo and protect you as the driver. Both represent an affordable way to protect yourself as well as your investment in your equipment. After all, it doesn’t take much to cause a big problem. Just a little bit of forward movement could cause you a big headache you don’t really want.

 


How to Buy Loading Ramps

You have landed on the Mytee Products website in your search for a good pair of trailer loading ramps. That’s great. We can get you hooked up not only with the ramps, but also all the other equipment and supplies you need to be a safe and successful flatbed trucker. Having said that, note that not all loading ramps are equal.

There are multiple manufacturers you can look to for quality ramps. There are also multiple designs to choose from. We recommend giving careful consideration to exactly what you need before you buy. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.

The Loads You Typically Carry

Like everything else in flatbed trucking, you have to consider the kinds of loads you typically carry in relation to the loading ramps you need. Loads with heavier axle weights are going to require larger loading ramps with higher ratings. If you routinely haul the heaviest construction equipment, then you are going to need some pretty heavy-duty ramps.

The thing to keep in mind here is that loading ramps can be quite heavy. It is not unusual for a single heavy-duty ramp to be upwards of 100 pounds. If you don’t routinely carry loads requiring the monsters, you might be better off with lighter ramps that are easier to handle.

How You Intend to Store the Ramps

Flatbed truckers who use their loading ramps regularly – think construction equipment haulers here – are likely to keep them on board. The question is, where? How you intend to store your ramps may be a factor in the actual ramps you choose.

There are drivers who store their ramps on the upper deck. They may have to move them from time to time to accommodate other loads, but they find that upper deck storage makes for easier deployment. On the other hand, other drivers store them underneath using brackets mounted to the trailer.

The Kind of Trailer You Use

Different styles of trailers can indicate different uses for loading ramps. Are you hauling with a straight flatbed, or are you more likely to use a step-deck with your loading ramps? In a step deck scenario, you may need to use the ramps both to get the load onto the trailer and then to move it from one step to the next. You have to have loading ramps that work both ways.

Your Available Budget

We realize that price plays a role in the choices truck drivers make. We do not expect you to buy loading ramps you cannot afford. As such, your available budget is something else you have to think about. But think about it in both the short and long terms. For example, you might be looking at just a set of ramps right now. But will your needs change in the future?

It might be more cost-effective in the long run to purchase an entire loading ramp kit that includes ramps, mounting brackets, a ramp dolly, and everything else you need. The initial outlay will be more, but you will spend less by buying everything in a kit now rather than trying to piecemeal it down the road.

Mytee Products as a full selection of trailer loading ramps and supplies ready for purchase. We invite you to take a look at our complete inventory before you buy. We offer everything from loading ramps to truck tires and tarps and straps. Anything you might need as a flatbed truck driver is probably in our inventory. And if not, ask us about it. We will see what we can do.


5 Things To Remember When Loading Ramps

We’ve all seen those epic fail videos online; videos showing people doing some pretty silly things. You don’t want to be included in that group when you are using trailer loading ramps. So learn how to use your ramps correctly. Otherwise, you could find yourself appearing in a viral video.

For the record, trailer loading ramps take advantage of a few key laws of physics that make it possible to get heavy loads up onto a trailer without having to use a lift boom. Those laws can be just as much your enemy as your friend. It pays to know how physics relates to the ramps you are using and the load they will carry.

Securing Ramps

The trailer ramps we sell are designed to be used with an aluminum skid seat and a locking rod. The reason here should be obvious: ramps need to be secured in place before any loading begins. Insecure ramps are almost guaranteed to fall away from the back of a trailer.

Before securing ramps, check to make sure the skid seat and locking rod are in good working condition. Any abnormalities that even look like they might compromise skid seat integrity should be dealt with before loading begins.

Loading at too Steep an Angle

The laws of physics dictate that less force is needed to move a load the lower the angle of ascent. As such, avoid the temptation of trying to load at too steep an angle. If the angle of load is too high for a particular job, either use longer ramps or find a higher surface you can use as an intermediate step in the loading process. If neither are possible, another method of loading will have to be considered.

Check Clearance

Clearance is a big issue when loading heavy equipment onto flatbed trailers. The clearance we are talking about is the clearance that exists between the bottom of the load and the top edge of the flatbed. A lack of sufficient clearance could mean a load gets stuck half-way on to the trailer, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

The way around clearance issues is to use ramps with arches built in. The arches lift the back of the load as it approaches the trailer, solving the problem of limited clearance.

Control Speed

Moving a load up a set of ramps too quickly is a dangerous proposition. Uncontrolled speed could cause a piece of heavy equipment to veer out of control once it reaches the flatbed. It could cause the equipment to jump, subsequently leading to damage on impact with the trailer.

There are just so many things that could go wrong here. So, whatever you do, make sure to control your speed when you’re using loading ramps to load heavy equipment. It is better to go too slow than too fast.

Always Ask for Loading Assistance

It is better to load ramps with assistance versus going solo. Flatbed drivers should always have the help of at least two other people who can keep an eye on the ramps from either side. If you can get two more to watch the trailer as well, that’s a bonus.

Trailer loading ramps are great tools for getting loads onto flatbeds. But they have to be used with caution and according to the laws of physics.


The Physics of Trailer Loading Ramps

We take trailer loading ramps for granted. In other words, we just assume that a good set of ramps is going to do the job without issue. We usually don’t give any thought to how they actually work, or how they make our lives easier for that matter. If we did, we would be delving into all sorts of things related to physics.

As human beings, we are capable of using tools to do all sorts of work. Trailer loading ramps are just one example. When you understand the physics behind how these ramps work, you come to appreciate how much they enable us to do. There are plenty of loads truckers could not carry if it were not for the work done by loading ramps.

The trailer loading ramps we sell are intended for both straight flatbed trailers and those with multiple deck levels. They affix to the back of the trailer using clips to hold them in place. On the other end, wedges make the transition from ground to ramp a smooth one, allowing operators to easily drive or push cargo up onto the trailer.

The Key: Force and Distance

We will not get into all the physics of using trailer loading ramps, but we do want to cover some of the basics. The first thing to talk about is how ramps make it possible to load extremely heavy cargo on the back of a flatbed. Imagine a trailer carrying a heavy piece of construction equipment.

Without loading ramps, that piece of equipment would have to be lifted onto the trailer using a crane. Why? Because it takes a tremendous amount of force to overcome gravity when lifting an object by pulling it from above. All that dead weight requires a heavy-duty crane to get it off the ground. Furthermore, greater downward force is exerted on the object the higher it goes.

Using loading ramps still require some amount of force to get the piece of equipment onto the trailer. But rather than pulling it straight up, the operator is moving the equipment across an inclined distance. Spreading gravitational force across a surface plane at distance allows the operator to more easily overcome that force at any given point during travel. The result is less energy required to move the same object.

Other Physical Forces at Play

While the force and distance equation is the key equation for trailer loading ramps, there are other physical forces in play. For starters, you have both the potential and kinetic energy stored in the piece of equipment being loaded. That energy affects how the cargo is moved.

Kinetic energy is energy in motion. It puts increased stress on the ramps the further up the piece of equipment goes. Combined with gravitational energy, kinetic energy also puts stress on the rear of the trailer. That’s why ramps have to be firmly affixed and trailers have to be locked in position.

Potential energy is stored energy. It exists in the piece of equipment even as it is moving up the ramps. If one of the two ramps are unsteady, that potential energy could be transformed into kinetic energy, causing the piece of equipment to tip and fall off the ramp.

Rest assured that engineers work out all the physics before attempting to load a piece of heavy equipment onto a trailer. Operators know the size of the ramps they should use, how to anchor the ramps in place, and how to actually move equipment up those ramps. If it weren’t for physics, none of it would be possible.