Flatbed truckers are an important part of the logistics industry that provides the backbone of the U.S. economy. What you may not know is that they are responsible for protecting the cargo they haul – from pickup to drop off. These incredibly dedicated professionals use flatbed truck tarps as their primary tool to do just that. You might even say that tarps are a flatbed trucker’s best friend.
One of the questions we frequently hear from new flatbed truckers is whether to strap a load above the tarp or not. This question arises from the fact that new truckers see their veteran counterparts do it both ways. Some like their straps above the tarps; others like them below. But it is truly a preference thing. There is no single way to use flatbed tarps and strap systems as long as the load is protected and the tarps and straps survive the trip undamaged.
What new drivers should understand is why veterans choose one set up over the other. They also need to know that the same driver may use different setups depending on the load being transported. It is like choosing between Kelley and Triangle truck and trailer tires – drivers make their cargo control choices depending on the loads they typically carry.
Straps Applied Above Tarps
There are two primary reasons you may see truckers apply their straps over the top rather than underneath their tarps. The first is to prevent the tarps from ballooning in the wind. In such a case, the load itself has already been secured underneath with either chains or additional mesh straps. The tarp has been applied only to protect the cargo from wind and road debris. This set up makes it easy to apply flatbed tarps with very little fuss while using straps to prevent ballooning.
The second reason for strapping over the top of the tarp is to secure a soft load and preventing ballooning at the same time. A good example would be transporting crates of vegetables from a farm to the processor. Such a load is unlikely to be traveling hundreds of miles, so the driver is not worried about securing both the load and the tarps separately. He or she will just throw the flatbed tarp over the load, followed by securing each stack of crates – and the tarp at the same time – with a strap.
Straps Applied Under Tarps
Likewise, there are several reasons for applying straps underneath flatbed tarps. The first is to make sure maximum load securement is achieved. Sometimes a trucker will carry a load that does not conform well to tarping, so placing straps above the tarp would not provide the best securement. By strapping underneath, where straps come in direct contact with the load itself, the cargo can be made more secure. A tarp goes on top, secured at the corner and along the sides with bungee cords.
Drivers may also choose to apply straps underneath in order to avoid loose corners flapping in the wind. They use the same setup as described above. Flatbed tarps are placed over the already secured load and held in place with bungee cords. Along the same lines, this setup is also preferred among drivers who do not like the visual presentation of exterior straps.
Lastly, there are cases in which the driver really has no choice. Drywall is a great example. Most drywall shippers tarp their loads in the shipping yard so that there is never a question about the drywall being protected. All the driver has to do is to secure the load to the trailer and pull away.
Regardless of how you decide to use your tarps and straps, Mytee Products has a full selection of both. We also carry a full line of cargo securement supplies, tires (including 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 truck tires), tarping systems and accessories, portable carports and storage structures and, of course, a full line of steel, lumber, hay, and mesh tarps. If you need it, we have it.
Flatbed truck tarps are one of the most important tools a flatbed trucker can own. However, the tarps in the trucker’s toolbox are more than just randomly manufactured pieces of fabric in different colors. There is actually a science behind their design, science you may not be aware of. Flatbed truck tarps are designed in such a way, as to provide maximum cargo protection in a package that is affordable and relatively easy to use.
The science behind flatbed truck tarps begins with the shape. Obviously, steel tarps are long and rectangular where machinery tarps tend to be squares or smaller rectangles. Lumber tarps combine long rectangles with additional flaps that come down over the sides of the trailer.
Rectangles Are Extremely Flexible
Rectangles are the preferred shape for flatbed truck tarps because the rectangle offers maximum flexibility. A rectangle allows significant coverage for loads of all kinds, but with a narrow profile that makes it easy to handle across the back of a flatbed or a dump truck box. You can still get very good coverage with a square, but squares need to be bigger to cover the same area. This makes them less flexible and harder to work with. It is for this reason that square tarps are usually reserved for covering machinery or acting as smoke protection. Rectangles are still the preferred shape for most flatbed loads.
Flat vs. Shaped Tarps
Campers and hikers are known to prefer shaped tarps because their catenary cuts and curves provide durability and strength, especially along seams. A good shaped tarp has a very strong spine that makes it ideal as a shelter or hammock. Nevertheless, shaped tarps do not work well for most flatbed applications.
A shaped tarp is limited in coverage by the shape it takes. On the other hand, a flat tarp has no such limits. It works equally well whether the truck driver is covering a set of steel coils or a load of construction materials. The tarp will conform to whatever shape it is applied to with maximum protection at all times. Not so with the shaped tarp. That is why you don’t see shaped tarps used by truckers except in very rare and specialized circumstances.
Material Choices Equally Important
The science behind flatbed truck tarps even covers the materials manufacturers choose to use. For example, all of the tarps we carry at Mytee Products are made with heavy-duty vinyl or canvas manufactured as a woven product. It is the weaving that gives the materials their incredible strength.
A woven vinyl material is as strong as any other commercial or industrial fabric yet still lightweight enough to be easy to handle. Woven canvas is somewhat heavier, but it offers the added benefit of breathability for applications where moisture is a concern. In either case, the fabrics are woven according to detailed specifications that make them ideal for tarp manufacturing.
Grommets and D-rings
Lastly, grommets and D-rings are built into flatbed truck tarps to make securing them to trailers as easy as possible. Nonetheless, neither grommets nor D-rings are placed randomly. Grommets are sewn into the outside edges at specific intervals that offer the maximum number of securement options without sacrificing material integrity. The same is true with D-rings. Designers also place extra D-rings on specific kinds of tarps that make covering loads easier. The D-rings found on your average lumber tarp are a good example.
Tarp design is anything but haphazard. There is a lot of important science behind flatbed truck tarps that make them the perfect tools for their intended purposes.
Companies such as Mytee Products sell many truck tarps to flatbed and dump truck drivers. Tarps are tools of the trade for protecting loads and meeting the regulations of the various states. We carry all sorts of products ranging from standard steel tarps to the largest and toughest lumber tarps. Recently, we have noticed a trend among truckers buying more roll tarps. These tarps are being used with different motorized rolling systems to make life a lot easier for the American trucker.
A roll tarp differs from standard steel and lumber tarps in how it is applied. Rather than being manually deployed or lowered onto a load using a tarping machine, the roll tarp is connected to a mechanized frame that rolls and unrolls the tarp with either an electric motor or a manual crank. Deploying the tarp results in the system unrolling it down its length; the retraction process works just the opposite.
Roll tarps have traditionally been used on dump trucks and grain trailers where it is nearly impossible to safely use any other kind. However, the industry is coming up with new and creative ways to use roll tarps on standard flatbed trailers as well. Drivers choosing to go this route are finding tarping a lot easier.
Dump Trucks and Grain Trailers
Dump trucks and grain trailers usually carry loads that are not especially sensitive to environmental conditions. So why cover them with roll tarps? Because the states have laws in place requiring load securement in order to avoid anything flying off the truck or trailer and striking a car following behind. A dump truck carrying a load of gravel provides a good example.
If that gravel load is exceptionally dry, the wind could pick up a few pieces of rock, which could then fly off the load and strike a car. Even a small rock can break a windshield at 60 mph. At the very least, such an incident would result in damage to the car that needs repair. In a worst-case scenario, the shock of the event could cause the car driver to lose control and drive off the road. This is why the states require dump truck and grain trailer loads be secure.
Roll Tarps and Flatbed Trailers
Flatbed truckers can now use roll tarps by combining them with sidewall systems. Some of the most popular sidewall systems include a set of aluminum posts and panels that can be assembled around the perimeter of a flatbed trailer in mere minutes. Another popular system uses framing similar to what you might find on a covered wagon. In either case, once the sidewall system is in place the roll tarp can be deployed with little effort.
Flatbed truckers seem more willing to invest in these kinds of systems because they are:
•Easier to use than standard tarps
•Safer in terms of wind
•Safer in terms of walking on loads
•Less prone to damaging sensitive cargo underneath
•More than capable of withstanding bad weather
•More likely to last longer due to better deployment.
Another factor flatbed truck drivers have to consider is the time it takes them to deploy and remove a tarp. If using a standard tarp takes 30 minutes while using a roll tarp takes five, that’s an extra 50 minutes on each load the trucker isn’t spending on dealing with tarps. That time can be spent turning the wheels instead.
Mytee Products offers a selection of roll parts for truckers. All of our tarps are made with the highest quality materials and are compatible with most standard roll systems.
Truck tarps are often used to secure and cover different types of loads in trucks. Therefore, they can make transporting loads in flatbeds, pickup trucks and dump trucks much easier. There are a very wide variety of
truck tarps you can choose from since they are available in different styles and sizes depending on the type of truck and the type of load being transported.
Some popular types of truck tarps are steel tarps, dump truck tarps, and trailer tarps which are all suitable for trucks that carry heavy merchandise and cargo.
Types of flatbed truck tarps
Since they are made of waterproof and highly durable material, most truck tarps are resistant to weather elements including snow, rain, hail, strong gusts of wind, and ultra violet rays.
Steel tarps are suitable for truck roof covers especially in heavy goods vehicles, delivery services and other outdoor applications especially rugged applications.
These are mainly recommended for hauling of asphalt especially when a waterproof cover is not necessary. On the other hand, dump truck tarps can be used for towing gravel, rock and sand.
Besides being waterproof, vinyl and polythene are also considered the toughest and most durable truck tarps because they are also mold, mildew and rot free. Some type of cargo and materials such as steel, asphalt and wood must
be protected against water especially because truck drivers are usually on the road even when it’s raining or snowing.
They are primarily used for protecting wood freight from weather elements such as rain and snow. However, waterproof
truck tarps might not be suitable for other types of loads such as steel beams. Therefore, it is vital to consider the type of load you will be transporting.
Benefits of using truck tarps
The different types of materials used for manufacturing truck tarps are hard, strong wearing fabric that is coated with PVC to guarantee for UV, tear and abrasion resistance. Since they are waterproof and sturdy, some
truck tarps are available fire resistant material. These truck tarps are recommended for various waste applications such as tree hauling for agricultural, mining and industrial applications, and other severe applications. Besides containing and securing loads, truck tarps can also be used as truck sides and roof covers. Therefore, drivers can rest assured that they will lose none of their cargo by simply taking the time to secure the loads they are transporting safely sing truck tarps.
Wood chips, gravel, metal scraps stones and other debris can easily fall from the truck especially when driving and this generally creates unsafe driving conditions even for other drivers. In order to ensure that heavy cargo does not fall onto the road when loose or unsecured, flatbed truck tarps are primarily manufactured to hold cargo securely while preventing any cargo-related damage to other road users.
Another major benefit of using truck tarts is reducing the dragging effect on the vehicle. Therefore, you can easily increase the miles per gallon you get because the movement of air is more streamlined.