More from: side kit tarps

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


Tools to Make Tarping Easier

Tarping a flatbed load can be a time-consuming job. Flatbed truck drivers are appreciative of shippers who have invested in automatic tarping machines, as these make using steel, coil and flatbed lumber tarps relatively easier. However, a shipper who uses a tarping machine is not the standard. A flatbed trucker is, more often than not, left to tarp his/her loads manually.

Many equipment makers have recognized the need and have begun developing tools to make tarping easier. Two of those tools, the side kit and the accordion tarp cover, turn what used to be a long and laborious process into something that can be completed in just a few minutes.

Side Kit Tarps

A side kit tarp is essentially a modular frame a truck driver can build over his/her cargo on which to lay and secure a tarp. It consists of a series of aluminum rails and composite panels that easily attach to a flatbed trailer via the built-in pockets most trailers offer. Once the structure is complete, the driver can place a tarp on the top, unroll it and pull the sides down for securement. The side kit works equally well for lumber, coil and steel tarps.

side kit tarps

The primary benefits of a side kit are cost and modular design. A good kit is very affordable and should more than pay for itself in time saved. Furthermore, the modular nature allows a driver to install only what is needed for each load. He/she just inserts the side posts into the trailer pockets, attaches the panels, and it is ready for tarping.

Accordion Tarp Covers

Drivers not afraid to spend in exchange for speed and convenience can invest in an accordion tarp cover frame. As with the side kit, the accordion frame provide the surface on which to lay and tie-down tarps. The big difference is that it only needs to be assembled once. The frame opens and closes like an accordion, making it possible to permanently attach a tarp that expands and contracts with the frame. Tensioners mounted between each section ensure that the tarp is pulled tightly back when the unit is not in use. Accordion tarps are great solution for trailer drivers whose loads are consistent in both size and weight.

In the absence of either tool, drivers should always follow the standard safety tips for tarping a load. Be it steel tarps, coil tarps or lumber tarps, it pays to be careful when walking on top of a load. Windy weather should also be addressed by pulling a trailer behind a building or other blocking structure prior to applying tarps.

In some states, shippers are required to assist drivers in getting their tarps to the top of a load. Even in states where it is not mandatory, it never hurts to ask for a little help. The driver can make things easier by requesting a forklift operator to lay the tarp on top of the load so that he/she may secure it appropriately.

Mytee Products carries a complete selection of tarps and other load securing products for North American truckers. All of our tarps are made of high-quality poly or canvas materials that are long lasting and provide a great return for drivers using them