More from: tarping

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.


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.


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.


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.

Winter Tarping Tips for Truck Drivers

A flatbed truck driver’s tarps are among the most important tools of the trade. Without a proper selection of tarps of different sizes and materials, protecting valuable cargo would be considerably more difficult. In light of how important tarps are to flatbed trucking, it is equally important for drivers to use extra care during the winter months. Winter tarping is a lot more challenging than using tarps in the summer.

The key to surviving the winter season with all of your tarps intact is to remember that rapid temperature changes make tarping materials brittle. Snow, ice, and road salt do not help either. Drivers need to be extra careful in order to protect their investments; they need to make sure their tarps last through the winter and into the following spring.


Here are some winter tarping tips you might be able to use yourself:

1. Warm Tarps in Your Cab

If you know that you will need certain tarps from your inventory on the way to pick up a load, bring them inside the cab and let them warm up as you drive. Warm tarps are certainly easier to apply than cold ones. You will also find them less prone to tearing as well.

Once you reach your destination, you might be used to immediately unloading, folding your tarps, and storing them away in preparation for your next trip. But if you have 15 to 30 minutes of paperwork to do before departure, see if there is an open warehouse space where you can let your tarps warm up before folding. Once again, you will find them a lot easier to deal with.

2. Check D-Rings and Grommets Regularly

D-Rings and grommets are especially prone to damage from road salt during the winter. Make a point to check yours several times during a trip and at the start and conclusion of every journey. If you find even a minimal amount of damage, winter is not the time of year to press your luck. You are better off taking a tarp out of service until the damaged the ring or grommet can be repaired.

3. Avoid the Voids

Experienced flatbed drivers know that voids create a great place for water to pool. This is bad enough during the warm months, but water collecting on a tarp can be very damaging during the winter. Let’s say a bit of water pools in a void at the center of a load in temperatures hovering just above freezing. When the sun goes down and the temperatures fall, that pool can easily freeze and rip a hole in your tarp. Do not allow for any voids where moisture can collect.

4. Use Rubber Tipped Gloves

Rubber tipped gloves are an excellent choice for applying tarps during the winter months. The rubber fingertips make it easier to grip cold canvas and vinyl, even when you are dealing with ice at the same time. You can wear them alone or over the top of a set of leather gloves and, best of all, rubber tipped gloves are relatively cheap. You can buy them by the dozen at the local DIY or auto repair store.

The winter season brings with it extra challenges for flatbed truckers to overcome. You can make your own challenges more tolerable by remembering how winter weather affects tarps. The more proactive you are in winter tarping, the less trouble you will have this season.

Smartly Tarping Your Cargo To a Great Truck Driving Career

America’s over the road truck drivers have three primary kinds of work to choose from: refrigerated (refer) hauling, dry van hauling, and flatbed hauling. Few drivers would argue that sometimes flatbed truckers have the most challenging of roles to fulfill. The primary reasons arises when drivers have to drive in extreme weather conditions and gauge what changes in climate at their point of destination. The secondary reason could be that an inexperienced driver would not be knowledgeable enough to utilize his tarping gear to secure the cargo and have a safe trip.

What does flatbed driving appear to be such a difficult task? The answer to this is – load securing is key to a drivers track record and the company’s reputation in protecting their customers cargo. Drivers are responsible for the security of their loads from the moment they drive out of the shipping yard to the moment the receiver unloads the cargo. Not only do they have to ensure cargo remains securely on board, they also have to take the necessary steps to prevent damage along the way. And in most cases, that means applying tarps both, efficiently and effectively. Considering the following tarps allows a driver to determine which ones are best suited to protect their load:


Steel Tarps – steel tarps are the most commonly used in flatbed trucking. They are quite large and generally flat and rectangle so that they can be used to cover virtually any cargo. The average flatbed trucker will own several of these, all stored in a utility box or a rack behind the cab.

Coil Tarps – coil tarps are smaller tarps designed primarily to cover loads of coil, cabling or other similar products. A good coil tarp is dome-shaped in order to accommodate the coils with a tight fit that reduces drag and flapping.

Lumber Tarps – lumber tarps can be a bit more challenging to apply as they are the heaviest and due to their side and back flaps. Lumber tarps are designed in this way to protect an entire load from top to bottom.

Smoke Tarps – The smallest in tarp family are smoke tarps. These are used at the front of the load when the load requires protection from exhaust. As they are smaller, these can be applied quickly and easily.

Based on these four choices, that the means of covering a load are not universal. A driver must assess each load to determine the best way to protect it. Then comes the crucial process of applying and securing tarps.

The Smart Flatbed Driver

For drivers to do a good job of securing tarp over their cargo, one must consider the profile of the driver.Those who choose flatbed driving as a career have the ability to think of solutions to a problem ( weather, load size etc) and also have the physical disposition to haul an average tarp that generally weighs between 50-100lbs.

It is due to these factors that Flatbed truck drivers get paid handsomely compared to their counterparts in other sectors of the trucking driving industry. Better pay also results in a better retention rate, so understanding tarps and efficiently using them can result in a long term flatbed trucking career