More from: tarping

The Secret to Preventing Tarp Billowing

After spending 20 to 30 minutes tarping a load, nothing aggravates a flatbed trucker more than looking out the mirror 25 miles down the road and seeing one or more of those tarps billowing in the wind. Billowing tarps reduce fuel efficiency and risk both straps and cargo. Truckers hate billowing tarps.

The question many new truck drivers struggle with is how to prevent billowing. After all, moving down the highway at 65 mph creates a lot of air movement around a flatbed load. Any natural wind added to the equation just makes things worse.

So, what is the solution? The secret to preventing tarp billowing is in how tarps are applied at various points of a load.

In the below post, we will explain how to secure tarps that will not billow as you drive down the road. You can use ratchet straps, bungee straps, bungee rope, or even nylon rope as you see fit. A combination of bungee straps and ratchet straps is the best way to go for efficiency and speed.

Tight at the Front

Physics and common sense dictate that air flows across a load from front to back. Therefore, common sense also dictates that tarps should be getting the most attention at the front of the load. Veteran truckers who tarp well, will tell you that the front of the load is key.

The most important thing for preventing billowing is to make sure the tarp at the front is as flat and tight as possible. If you do not give air a clear path under the front of the tarp, you will reduce the likelihood of billowing across its entire surface. So think tight and flat.

One suggestion from veteran truckers is to start by securing the front corners of the tarp with bungee straps. Pull the tarp tight and secure the rear with bungee straps as well. Then go back to the front of the load and apply one ratchet strap across the top of the tarp as far forward as possible. You can then use bungee straps or bungee rope to go around the front edge of the tarp, hooking to a strap on either side, to keep the vertical surface of the tarp lying flat.

Work Your Way Back

Once the front of the tarp is flat and secure, work your way back. Use additional bungee straps at key points to secure the tarp to either your trailer or the load itself. Another ratchet strap across the middle of the tarp will keep that section flat. Finally, wrap the entire perimeter of the load using bungee rope from corner to corner. This keeps the edges of the tarp secure against the load.

The advantage of using bungee rope here is that you can apply fairly large sections of rope without creating a safety hazard or risking damage to the load.

One veteran trucker we know offers another tip that makes sense. He says that it helps to take a few extra minutes to make sure tarps are applied evenly. An uneven tarp is harder to keep flat and tight because you are working with different amounts of material at various points across the load. An even tarp gives you the same amount of material at the critical points, making it possible to apply even tension with each bungee or ratchet strap you use.

Remember, the secret to preventing tarp billowing is to concentrate on the front of the load in order to ensure the tarp is flat and tight. If you can conquer the front of the load, the rest should be fairly easy.


Mesh Tarps: Perfect for Dump Trucks and Trailers

Flatbed truck drivers are not the only ones requiring an ample supply of tarps. Dump truck drivers need tarps to secure their loads too. We recommend mesh tarps for dump truck and trailer loads rather than solid poly or canvas tarps. Why? We will explain the reason in this post.

Our heavy-duty PVC mesh tarps have been specifically designed for dump trucks and trailers. They are your best bet for securing loads whether you apply tarps manually or use a mechanical tarping system.

Federal and State Regulations

The first question to ask is why dump truck drivers use mesh tarps. The answer is simple: federal and state regulations require that all loads being carried by commercial vehicles be properly secured en route. Even though a dump truck might be carrying gravel, stone, or in aggregate material, that material must be kept secure.

Federal regulations require that all dump truck loads be kept in place so as to prevent debris from flying off and striking another vehicle. However, please note that federal regulations only apply to vehicles involved in interstate travel. That’s why the states have their own regulations for cargo control. In many cases, state regulations are either identical or very close to their federal counterparts.

In the simplest possible terms, any load being transported in a dump truck or trailer has to be prevented from causing damage to other vehicles. The easiest way to do this is to simply cover the load with a tarp. Mesh tarps are the perfect choice because these provide adequate load control without the need for keeping the elements out.

Durable and Reliable

PVC mesh tarps specifically made for dump trucks and trailers are durable and reliable enough for even the toughest jobs. Our mesh tarps are made with the heavy-duty PVC-coated vinyl for maximum durability. Tarps include 6-inch vinyl pockets, tough brass grommets installed at 2 foot intervals, and webbing-reinforced seams.

While some dump truck operators use generic blue poly tarps purchased at the hardware store, we still recommend purpose built mesh tarps. These are going to last much longer. PVC mesh tarps are also less likely to develop mold and mildew because they are highly breathable, unlike generic blue tarps.

Lightweight and Flexible

Another great benefit of PVC mesh tarps is that they are lightweight and flexible. Their lighter weight makes it easier to affix them to tarping systems as compared to solid poly tarps. They are easier to handle even if you tarp your loads by hand.

As far as flexibility is concerned, a PVC mesh tarp rolls and unrolls easily. Mesh tarps are flexible enough that they do not tend to bunch up or get tangled in tarping systems either. They roll out and back up again with very little effort.

Usable with Tarping Systems

Last but not least is the fact that PVC mesh tarps for dump trucks are made to be used with most standard tarping systems. That’s why we market these tarps as purpose built for dump trucks and trailers. Why does this matter? Just try fitting a generic blue tarp to your tarping system and you will quickly figure it out.

Tarping a dump truck load is supposed to be as effortless as possible. Fitting your tarping system with a purpose-built tarp designed specifically for that use ensures easy and reliable operation. You will not be fighting your tarp with every load.

Mesh tarps are the perfect solution for dump trucks and trailers. If you are not using them on your rig, now is a good time to change that.


Save Time with a Cargo Control Checklist

Working as a flatbed truck driver involves spending time waiting for cargo to be loaded and secured before hitting the road. This is time a driver is usually not compensated for, so getting things done as quickly as possible is paramount to getting the wheels turning again. Still, drivers have to be thorough in their cargo control procedures so as to not jeopardize their loads.

A good way to save time and ensure cargo is properly secured is to establish a cargo control checklist that becomes a standard operating procedure. While this may sound obvious, you might be surprised how many drivers have no such checklist in place. They approach every load in a random matter, where cargo control is dictated by immediate circumstances. Having a checklist in place is a better option because it ensures all of the necessaries are addressed in a way that eventually leads to the driver following his or her checklist routine as a matter of habit.

checklist

It should be noted that a cargo control checklist does not have to be a formal document that the driver prints out by the hundreds so that each load has its own piece of paper. A driver may create a document to start with, but after following the checklist routine numerous times, most drivers are going to memorize it. Then it becomes a mental exercise rather than a paper one.

Cargo Control Checklist Basics

How a driver organizes his or her cargo control checklist is a matter of preference. There should be certain categories of things on every driver’s checklist, things that are appropriate to cargo control. For example:

  • Tarps and Straps – Truck tarps and straps should be inspected prior to arriving to pick up a load. Not inspecting cargo control supplies increases the likelihood of getting to a job and finding that damaged equipment cannot be used. Then the driver is slowed down while he or she searches locally for replacements.
  • Inspecting Loads – Flatbed truck drivers are ultimately responsible for how cargo is loaded on their trailers. There should be a process in place for inspecting loads to make sure weight issues are addressed, there is no unnecessary space between cargo items, and that cargo is properly blocked if necessary.
  • Securing the Cargo – Once a trailer has been loaded and securing has commenced, a system should be in place so that tarps and straps are always applied in the same way. For example, some truckers will first make sure all of their straps and/or chains are applied, then walk around the trailer to tighten down each winch consecutively.
  • Final Inspection – Just prior to departure, the truck driver should be performing a vehicle safety inspection as a matter of routine. Within that inspection, he or she can also make provision to do a final inspection of cargo control equipment. Straps, chains, and tarps should all be given the once over.
  • Inspections on the Road – Lastly, an important part of a cargo control checklist that should not be ignored are the inspections done while on the road. Drivers should be checking their loads within the first 50 miles of departure and then with every additional stop along the way. The same checklist used for the final inspection is appropriate to on-the-road inspections.

Cargo control is a normal part of flatbed trucking. Drivers can save time and do a better job of securing cargo by developing a cargo control checklist and following it on every job. A well-designed checklist turns what could be a random exercise into something that becomes routine.


Remember Air Circulation When Using Hay Tarps

In a previous blog post, we talked about using hay tarps to cover seed cotton. If you read that post, you might remember that tarping seed cotton is very similar to tarping hay – both in practice and in terms of the reasons why you might choose to use tarps. We even talked about things such as wind and moisture. The one thing we did not address in that post is air circulation.

When it comes to deciding whether to use hay tarps or not, the underlying concern is mold. It doesn’t matter whether you are working with hay, seed cotton, or any other agricultural product, mold growth reduces profitability by reducing some of your stock to waste. The whole point of tarping is to prevent as much waste as possible. This requires a two-pronged approach that considers both moisture and air circulation.

hay-tarps

Moisture Content in Hay and Cotton

Harvesting both hay and seed cotton starts a reaction in the grain that causes it to release moisture. Because moisture can promote mold growth, common sense would dictate creating some sort of way to release that moisture into the surrounding air without allowing it to be trapped under the tarp. Therein lies the challenge.

When you lay a hay tarp directly over bales of hay or cotton with nothing in between, you are limiting the ability of the product to ‘breathe’. In fact, this is exactly the reason hay tarps are considered superior to standard blue tarps for protecting agricultural products. Hay tarps are made with breathable fabrics where blue tarps are less breathable by virtue of being constructed of poly or vinyl materials.

The challenge for the farmer is to figure out that proper balance. In some climates that do not see excessive rain during the summer months, it is possible to get away with simply laying a hay tarp across a bale and securing it to the ground with stakes. The tarp itself should provide enough room to do the trick. That may not be the case in locations that get excessive rain or suffer from high levels of humidity.

Both excessive rain and high humidity interrupt the process of evaporation. In such an environment, the farmer may have to find a way to support the hay tarp in order to create a little bit of space between the top of the bale and the tarp fabric. This can be accomplished with small blocks of wood, old tires, or just about anything else the farmer can find to act as a prop.

Create a Tarp Frame

Another way to address the air circulation issue is to create a frame on which the hay tarps will rest. A simple ‘A’ frame can be constructed with some rope and a few stakes pounded into the ground. Of course, a farmer can get more sophisticated by building a frame out of aluminum or steel that is heavy enough to be self-supporting. Such a frame is essentially a carport for hay or seed cotton.

We have also seen some farmers create open-air pens using cinder blocks. Turned sideways, the cinder blocks allow for plenty of air circulation while several hay tarps laid over the top keeps rain from coming in direct contact with the product underneath.

Suffice it to say there are a lot of creative ways to address the air circulation problem when covering hay or seed cotton. At the very least, purpose built hay tarps should be used rather than blue tarps. The hay tarps we carry here at MyTee are the right tools specifically designed to do the job right.


Efficiently Working with Flatbed Truck Tarps

Within the flatbed trucking community, a common complaint that arises is the time and effort needed to apply and remove tarps. This time away from the steering wheel – time that pays a driver his or her wage. Therefore, keeping the wheels turning and earning money depends a lot on how efficient a flatbed driver is with tarps.

As a flatbed trucker, you might be wondering whether it is possible to be efficient when working with flatbed truck tarps. It is – you just need to try different options until you find what works best for you. It also helps to keep in mind that efficiency by definition, is doing the same amount of work with less effort and time needed.

flatbed

Applying Bungee Straps to Tarps

Applying bungee straps could take quite a bit of time when it comes to tarping a load. Just when you think you have your tarps right where you want them, you find out they are in the wrong position because of the way your bungee straps lay. We have a suggestion based on things we have seen some of our customers do.

Start by pinning all four corners of your tarp with a single bungee cord at each corner. Then do a walk around the entire load, placing a bungee cord in each D-ring or grommet, depending how you intend to fasten the tarp. During this step, do not secure the bungee cords to your trailer. Just walk around and hook the bungees in a ring or grommet.

Now make a second pass around the rig, securing every other bungee cord as you go. A third pass in the other direction wraps up the remaining cords. While this process does take three passes, you will find that you save time by not having to undo straps and readjust the tarp multiple times. You will be applying tension evenly with this process, increasing the chances that you will only have to do it once.

Using the Link Bar with Straps

Securing a load with winch straps can be as cumbersome as using bungee cords. You can increase your efficiency by walking around your load and getting all of your straps started before you ever touch the winch bar. Then you can walk around the rig and tighten each winch one at a time. This way you are not constantly picking up the bar and sitting down again. By the way, you can use the same process in reverse. Use the winch bar to loosen all of your straps in a single pass, then go back and take the straps off.

Color Code Your Tarps

Your flatbed truck tarps come in a variety of sizes and shapes. As you may already know, manufacturers use specific colors of fabric to let customers know important information about strength and durability. This does nothing for you when you are trying to find a specific tarp for specific job. So why not color code your tarps by size? A strip or two of colored duct tape makes it easy to differentiate between small and large tarps. Some drivers use different colored bungee cords the same way.

It is possible to be efficient when working with flatbed truck tarps. As previously stated, it is a matter of trying different things until you find what works for you. If you have tried for years and still cannot get it right, don’t be afraid to ask other truckers for tips and tricks. There are some drivers out there who are very efficient.