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

Tips for Covering a Load You Can’t Stand On

If the world were perfect for flatbed truckers, every load would come already secured and covered with a tarp. The driver would simply hook up and go. However, in the world of a flatbed hauler, tarping a load is an art that requires masterful skills. A good example would be to consider, tarping loads that are too fragile for the driver to walk on. Just how does one tarp these kinds of loads? The simple answer is : Very carefully.

The reality of the situation is that, shippers who routinely deal with fragile or oversized loads tend to invest in a tarping machine that essentially eliminates the labor intensive element of applying tarps. Shippers without machines may have their forklift operators lift tarps and drop them to the top of the load. And, then there are those shippers who leave it completely upto the trucker. These are the ones you to be concerned about. The harder it becomes to cover a load, the more grueling a trucker’s job becomes.

flatbed

Here is a list of tips for covering those fragile loads a trucker needs to secure yet cannot stand on.

Know the Law

The most important tip for loads that require tarps is that, the driver should be well versed with the legal tarping guidelines which he or she may have learnt during their certification process. Some states give drivers the legal right to refuse a load if a shipper will not provide forklift assistance on a load that would otherwise be unsafe to tarp. Many fragile loads cannot be walked on and yet they tend to stack up high enough that, it would be quite impossible for a trucker to apply his/her tarps without some assistance. Knowing the law puts the trucker in a good position to protect him/herself when tarping and untarping.

Use Smaller Tarps

One way to compensate for fragile loads is to use several smaller tarps instead of one large tarp. The smaller tarps are easier to manipulate, especially when the driver is unable to get atop the load. Although the downside of this strategy is that it is time consuming, the flatbed tarps used, do secure the load very well.

Employing a Pulley System

A bit of creative thinking and maybe a small investment would result in employing a pulley system to apply tarps, save time and ultimately secure a load.

Requesting for Assistance

The easiest tip is the one many truckers find the most difficult: just asking for help. It should not take much time to find someone else who can help you get tarps up and over the trucks load. The most important thing to remember here is to find a person experienced with tarping a fragile flatbed load.

Flatbed truckers are a creative group that can usually find a way around even the biggest challenges. When those challenges include loads that cannot be walked on, alternative means need to complete their jobs – apply tarps efficiently and effectively to secure the load.

Tarping and Un-Tarping with Canvas Tarps

A brief perusal of a few online trucker forums suggests that tarping loads is the least appreciated aspect of flatbed hauling. Tarping takes time, the weather does not always cooperate, and, in some cases, it can even be a bit dangerous. In such cases, canvas tarps can be a lot easier to work with than vinyl or poly.

Truckers use different kind of tarps for different jobs. For example, a lumber tarp with flaps might be chosen for a tall load requiring protection down the sides. A small smoke tarp is a good choice when the driver only needs to protect the front of the load from exhaust. When weather and height are a concern, canvas could be the way to go.

canvas-tarp

Tarping with Canvas

One of the first things you notice about canvas is that it is a bit heavier than vinyl. This makes it a better material choice when you are trying to tarp in windy conditions. The key is placing the folded tarp in the right position on the load so that it can be gradually secured as it is unfolded. A gradual unfolding and securement is not 100% foolproof, but it does reduce the chances of wind gusts posing a problem.

Truckers also find canvas more forgiving in cold weather. Why? Because canvas does not get stiff and brittle in cold temperatures like vinyl does. It will unfold just as easily during the winter as it does in the summer, so you will have less to deal with when you are trying to secure your load in bad weather. The same properties that keep canvas pliable during cold temperatures also mean fewer adjustments as a result of changing weather conditions and temperatures.

Un-Tarping with Canvas

Tarping your load in windy conditions is not only made easier by canvas – so is tarp removal. Again, the heavier weight of canvas makes it less likely to flap in the breeze. Canvas is also less likely to become stuck on edges or corners, making it more forgiving when you are uncovering your load.

When it comes to folding your tarps, the benefits of canvas are immediately observable. Canvas folds easier, is more likely to stay in place during subsequent fold-overs, and less likely to move in the breeze during the folding process. This makes canvas a lot easier to be folded into a tight, neat package that fits into your utility box as it’s supposed to.

It should be obvious that removing a canvas tarp in cold weather is easier as well. Just like tarping, uncovering a load using a vinyl or poly tarp can be a real hassle when the temperatures dip below freezing. Truckers have to be more concerned about rips and tears as well, due to cold temperatures making poly and vinyl more brittle. There are fewer such worries with canvas.

Of course, canvas is not the right material for every job. There are times when poly or vinyl tarps are a better fit. This is why truckers typically have several different kinds of tarps stored in their boxes. One thing we will say is that canvas should be part of every truck driver’s collection. There are times when tarping and un-tarping with canvas is safer, faster, and more efficient.

Things to Consider When Using Flatbed Truck Tarps

Tarping a load is usually a necessity for flatbed trailers. Heavy-duty flatbed truck tarps are used to protect the cargo and keep it a bit more secure, providing maximum protection and safety from the start of a trip to its conclusion. Would it surprise you to know that effectively using heavy-duty tarps is more complicated than simply applying the fabric across the load and securing it with a few bungee cords?

Using tarps effectively, efficiently and cost-effectively is a matter of understanding the dynamics between tarps and the loads they cover. Experienced flatbed haulers know how to tarp loads correctly; inexperienced truckers have to learn through practical experience.

Here is a short list of things a driver must consider when tarping:

1. Load Profile

How a load sits on a flatbed trailer really determines how the tarp is applied. There are times when a driver has no say in how a trailer is loaded; he or she must apply and secure their tarps the best they can. However, when drivers can give their input on trailer loading it is beneficial to have cargo loaded in such a way as to maximize tarp capabilities. The idea is to get the most protection with the least amount of tarping possible.

Flatbed Truck Tarps

2. Tarps Securing

Tarps are secured to flatbed trailers using bungee cords, straps, ropes, and chains. Bungee cords are the easiest and fastest to use, but these are not always the wisest choice. Drivers must always consider the size and weight of the load, potential weather conditions, and the strength of any tie down option. It is not true that any means of tying down a tarp is acceptable.

A second thing to consider when securing tarps is having loose fabric that can flap in the wind. This is never a good scenario. Loose fabric can damage cargo through repeated friction or abrasion. Loose fabric can also create air pockets, resulting in the wind slowly, but gradually, getting under a tarp and compromising its position. A compromised tarp no longer protects the cargo underneath from the elements.

3. Protection Flaps

D-ring protection flaps are an important part of flatbed trailer tarps. These protection flaps provide a heavy-duty fabric shield between the D-ring and the surface beneath it. The flap prevents damage to cargo in some cases; in other cases, it prevents the webbing holding the D-ring in place from being exposed to sharp edges. Any new flatbed tarp you purchase should have protection flaps at all D-ring positions.

4. Tarp Application

Applying flatbed tarps is one of the most dangerous jobs in the trucking industry. Tarps can become caught in the wind, whipping around and causing injury. In addition, straps and bungee cords can break or a driver could easily slip and fall while moving around on top of the load.

Before beginning the tarping process, it pays to step back and take just a few minutes to assess the situation. By all means, ask others to help if they are available. Moreover, if you can avoid climbing on top of the load, do so.

Tarping a load is a complex process if you are doing it right. Learning how to tarp properly is a skill that requires a combination of knowledge, time, and experience.

Securing Your Flatbed Trailer with a Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

Securing a flatbed trailer and its load with a heavy-duty truck tarp is just part of the routine for the American trucker. For new truckers, or those who have never hauled flatbed loads before, learning how to effectively tarp is not the easiest thing in the world. It is an acquired skill that takes time and experience to master.

Before tarping ever begins, the trucker must purchase the right kinds of tarps for the loads he or she intends to haul. It is best to choose heavy-duty tarps that can withstand the punishment of the open road; we usually recommend 18-ounce vinyl or a PVC product. Canvas and poly tarps do not tend to hold up very well over multiple long hauls.

With the correct tarp in hand, securing your trailer is a three-step process:

1. Load Balance

Making sure a load is balanced does a number of things. First, it keeps the trailer evenly weighted for maximum safety and fuel efficiency. Second, it allows for tarping the load in such a way that it provides as much protection as possible. Experienced truckers know that how a load is placed on a trailer goes a long way toward determining how it is tarped.

If you have any say in how your trailer is loaded, try to make sure the profile is as even as possible across the entire surface. Also, try to make sure that no part of the load sits higher than the top of the tractor if at all possible. Doing so reduces drag and protects your tarp against unnecessary wind.

2. Tarp Application

Despite the introduction of automatic tarping machines, many of today’s drivers still apply their tarps manually. The key is to make sure a tarp is spread evenly across the load to ensure as much protection as possible on all sides. The amount of drop a tarp offers plays a big role in this, so having enough drop to completely cover your load is usually beneficial.

securing-tarp

3. Tarp Securing

Flatbed trailer tarps come with both grommets and D-rings. Securing a tarp with bungee cords and the D-rings is okay for short trips across town – provided the load itself has been secured by other means – but it is an inappropriate way to secure a tarp for a long-haul trip. Such trips require the use of ratchet straps, ropes, or chains.

Ratchet straps are preferred because these are very easy to use and strong at the same time. A hook on one end of the strap is connected to a D-ring, while the fabric of the strap is pulled through a winch system. This enables you to get the straps as tight as they need to be to secure the tarp. They can also be used to provide extra strength for securing the load.

As always, it is important to make sure there is no loose material able to flap around in the wind. If any of the surfaces of the tarp will be exposed to sharp edges, it is wise to use other materials to soften the edges. The idea is to protect your load and your tarp at the same time.