More from: flatbed tarps

How To Tarp the Most Common Flatbed Loads

Flatbed trailers are used to haul loads that do not fit well in dry goods vans. Consequently, cargo on the back of a flatbed trailer does not enjoy the same protection offered by four walls and a roof. Drivers have to take the responsibility of protecting cargo themselves, using truck tarps and other cargo control supplies to protect what they are hauling.

 

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The most common flatbed loads in the industry are:

  • Construction equipment
  • Finished machinery
  • Lumber and construction materials
  • Steel coil and tubing
  • Mining and drilling equipment
  • Auto parts.

Construction equipment generally needs no protection as long as you consider machinery that is built to be out in the weather. Backhoes, loaders, and the like can simply be secured to the trailer and taken where they need to go. The same is true for most pieces of mining and drilling equipment. However, just about everything else needs to be covered and protected in some way.

Finished Machinery

Finished machinery loads which include  CNC machines, boilers, and industrial air conditioning units, must be covered to prevent damage from road debris and the elements. The best way to do this is with rectangular machinery tarps that provide full coverage across the top and all sides. As an added bonus, machinery tarps tend to be the most versatile. They can be used with the widest range of loads.

Lumber and Construction Materials

Finished lumber and construction materials usually have to be covered with tarps even if shippers have covered them in plastic. Lumber tarps are the perfect tool as they are designed with flaps so as to cover the entire load – even in the rear. The only thing to watch out for with lumber tarps is that applying them can take longer so it would be best to have another set hands to help cover the lumber load.

Steel Coil and Tubing

Flatbed truckers know that steel coil and tubing comes in many different sizes and configurations. A trucker might haul four or six spools of steel coil on one run, then turn around and carry industrial-grade tubing laid flat across the length of the trailer for the next job.

Steel tarps are the best option for these kinds of loads. They come in multiple sizes, and their rectangular shape makes it easier to cover loads regardless of the configuration. Tarps can go over the top of chains and winch straps or be secured underneath.

Auto Parts

Deciding whether or not auto parts have to be covered depends on the shipper. New and used parts intended for installation will have to be protected from road debris and the elements; old parts destined for the scrap heap can usually make the journey uncovered. It has been our experience that standard machinery or steel tarps are the best choices for auto parts.

The Occasional Odd Load

Another thing flatbed truckers know is that there are those occasional odd loads that do not fit standards. For example, a trucker might have a trailer loaded with a combination of mining equipment and a vehicle for mine operations. The vehicle does not have to be covered, but the mining equipment does.

Odd loads require a bit of creativity from the drivers who carry them. It is up to the driver to figure out the best way to protect the cargo with tarps, straps, and other cargo control supplies. Drivers are always required to protect their loads no matter how odd these tend to be.

Mytee Products has everything flatbed truckers need to protect their cargo. Whether it’s steel, lumber or something completely out of the ordinary, we have the cargo control supplies you need to protect it.


How to Choose the Right Class of Beacon Lights for Flatbeds

Beacon lights are tools flatbed truck drivers can use to warn other drivers of potentially hazardous conditions. They are required for certain kinds of loads, such as oversize loads, for example, but drivers can use them to indicate any number of hazards. The type and number of beacon lights a driver chooses depends on the load being carried and the amount of danger it represents.

Manufacturers make beacon lights in three classes which are discussed below. Most modern products are made with LED bulbs to maximize both efficiency and illumination. If you are in need of beacon lights, Mytee Products carries an excellent selection for you to choose from.

 

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Class 1 – The Strongest and Brightest

Class 1 beacon lights are the strongest and brightest of all three classes. These are the lights typically found on police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and so forth. Think of class 1 beacons as warning lights for the most hazardous situations. They are up to four times brighter than class 2 lights.

For flatbed truck drivers, class 1 beacons would be the ideal solution for extremely oversized or hazardous loads. At least one would be mounted on the tractor; two or more would be mounted on the trailer or the cargo itself. And, of course, any escort vehicles traveling with the tractor-trailer would be equipped with class 1 beacon lights as well.

Class 2 – Medium-Range Lighting

A typical class 2 beacon light is about twice as bright as a class 3 product. These lights are used for warning traffic at an intermediate range that potential hazards are present. They are the light most normally seen in road construction settings. They can be solid, rotating, or strobes.

Class 2 beacon lights in a trucking scenario would be used for hazardous loads that don’t necessarily qualify as being oversized. The driver wants to alert the public of the potential hazard, but other drivers do not necessarily have to be cognizant of the size of the load. Class 2 beacons are very helpful for timber loads, especially when driving in limited visibility.

Class 3 – Light Duty Beacons

Class 3 beacon lights are considered the light duty beacons for warning purposes. They are the least bright and normally not used by flatbed truckers for anything other than increasing visibility during inclement weather. More often than not, class 3 beacons are the domain of forklift trucks and small industrial vehicles. However, yard tractors may be fitted with them to increase safety in the freight yard.

Mounting Choices for Beacon Lights

Flatbed truckers who routinely haul oversize or hazardous loads will probably want to mount permanent beacon lights on their tractors. One or two on the roof and perhaps an additional light on the front bumper would be appropriate. Permanently mounted lights are not suitable for trailers due to load variations.

Here at Mytee Products, we carry beacon lights with magnetic mounting systems. These are designed to be temporary. They are ideal for the trucker who only hauls oversize and hazardous loads occasionally; they are also ideal for trailers because their location can be determined by the load.

If you haul hazardous or oversize loads, you should have at least a basic supply of beacon lights in your toolbox. We recommend a combination of strobes and steady-on lights to accommodate different needs. Note that some of our lights feature dozens of flash patterns that can be customized for purpose. And remember, beacon lights are about safety. Do not settle for inferior quality products that may not hold up.

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Tips To Remove Flatbed Tarps Easily

Applying and removing tarps is part of the job for the flatbed trucker. It can be a bit tedious when the wind is blowing or loads have sharp edges to contend with, so the best thing any trucker can do in this regard is pay attention to what works for other drivers and learn the little tricks that make flatbed tarp application and removal easier.

We have addressed applying tarps in other posts, however in this post, we will concentrate on tarp removal. Needless to say that most truckers get better at tarp removal with time and practice. Below are a few examples of little things you can do to remove tarps easily.

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Fold Sides up First

After 500 miles of interstate driving, there is a big temptation to undo your straps, grab one corner of the tarp and start pulling. You may get lucky on a load that has no sharp edges and is not oddly shaped but more often than not, the “yank and hope for the best” method can cause more trouble than imagined. Before you do anything, your best move is to fold the sides of your flatbed tarp up onto the load.

Folding creates a flat surface on the top of the load that is much easier to deal with. As a side note, you may have to get on the load to do this. Be careful.

Move from Front to Back

The second thing you can do to make your life easier is to move from front to back as you pull the tarp. There are two ways to do this. First, if you have someone willing to help, you can both grab a corner on either side of the trailer where it meets the cab. Then walk toward the rear of the trailer, pulling up and pushing forward as you go. This will essentially fold the tarp on top of itself as you pull it off the trailer.

If you are working alone, start at the rear of the trailer and grab your tarp (with the sides already folded up) at the center. Slowly drag it off the load in an even, continuous motion. The idea behind both of these methods is to cause the tarp to move from front to rear across the top of the load, thus avoiding sharp edges that can rip tarp fabric.

Get Some Air Underneath

Experienced truckers know that getting some air underneath flatbed truck tarps can help considerably. This is obviously not a problem on windy days, but what if the weather is still or you in an enclosed terminal? Grabbing one corner of your tarp and flapping it a couple of times gets just enough air underneath to separate the fabric from the cargo. This will make dragging the tarp off a bit easier.

Always Use Edge Protectors

New flatbed drivers tend to stay away from edge protectors unless they have reason to believe they are in danger of ripping their tarps. Why take the time to apply edge protectors if there are no real sharp edges? There is actually a very good reason: it makes tarp removal a lot easier. Edge protectors create space between your flatbed tarp and the cargo underneath. That extra space reduces friction and makes it easier for you to get the tarp off.

Flatbed tarp application and removal are an integral part of the job for those who hauls flatbed loads. So rather than continuing to struggle, the trucker is better off learning all those little secrets that make tarp application and removal easier.


Protection Not the Only Use for Flatbed Truck Tarps

Truck drivers invest in flatbed truck tarps primarily to protect the cargo from road debris, extreme weather, and other unforeseen situations. That’s why tarps have to be made of durable materials that can withstand the punishment of heavy over-the-road driving. That notwithstanding, there might be other reasons a shipper may require a flatbed trucker to cover a load with a tarp. In other words, cargo protection is not necessarily the only purpose of flatbed truck tarps.

A case in point was a flatbed recently photographed traveling down Route 77 in eastern Arizona. Not only was the truck carrying an oversize load, but it was also accompanied by a rather impressive convoy that included a number of other trucks and plenty of black SUVs. The rather large object underneath the massive gray tarp was pretty much unidentifiable.

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This is a case in which the flatbed truck tarp used to cover the object was both protecting it from damage and preventing onlookers from knowing what was underneath. Although it is not for us to determine what the cargo was, however, It was covered for a reason- to protect it.

Keeping Cargo Secretive

There is plenty of speculation about what might have been under that massive flatbed truck tarp. The popular ideas range from, it might have been new equipment being transported to the Air Force Base to old equipment on its way to bone yard out in the desert.

Another possibility is that the cargo was totally unrelated to the military. It could’ve been a satellite dish or a piece of high-tech equipment or even construction equipment. We will never know, thanks to a massive gray truck tarp that effectively served its purpose.

Regardless of what was being transported through the desert, there are times when shippers demand secrecy of their cargo. Such cases would require flatbed truck tarps to completely cover all visible surfaces of the cargo, with no exception. Not only would these tarps have to be capable of protecting the cargo from road debris and weather, but they would also have to be secured in such a way as to prevent any parts getting loose or falling off during shipping

These kinds of loads travel across our roads more often than most of us realize. We just don’t know because truckers do such a good job of covering them entirely. They get where they are going with an intact load while shippers and receivers enjoy the benefit of keeping their precious cargo from eyes they don’t want seeing it. It is a win-win for everyone.


Beveled Hardwood Lumber Better Than Scrap for Coil Loads

Hauling steel coil requires a different approach to cargo control for obvious reasons. When coils are loaded with the eye either to the front or side, the rolls have a tendency to shift back and forth on the trailer. To prevent this, drivers use lumber pieces as chocks to hold coils in place. We recommend beveled hardwood lumber rather than relying on scrap dunnage.

Mytee carries a selection of task-specific lumber with beveled edges in sizes ranging from 4 to 6 feet. These boards are ideal for hauling loads of steel coil up to 30,000 pounds. Lumber pieces can be used for cargo control of other types of cargo was well. Being that they are hardwood, they should last much longer than scrap.

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Loading with Beveled Lumber

Shippers all have their specific requirements when it comes to how they want to load their coil onto trailers. Regardless of their chosen procedures, the finished product on any coil load must meet federal safety standards. Coils must be secured in such a way as to prevent movement in any direction. Beveled lumber is utilized on either side of the rolling edge.

Loading typically starts with placing lumber pieces in their approximate location. Coil is then lowered onto the trailer and held in place long enough for lumber pieces to be adjusted appropriately. Then it is a matter of securing the coils using chains, pieces of rubber for protection and additional pieces of lumber to create what is essentially a coil rack surrounding the load.

More often than not, drivers will have to use rubber pieces over the top of the coils and in the eyes to protect the material from damage caused by chains. Some shippers are very particular about their loads, being more than willing to refuse drivers who do not have appropriate dunnage or tarps to cover steel coil. It is always best for a driver to check with a shipper he or she has never worked with before arriving at the yard and finding out the trailer will not be loaded due to a lack of appropriate equipment.

Loading with Scrap Lumber

Drivers who choose not to invest in hardwood lumber for steel coil loads may choose instead to settle for scrap lumber the shipping yard may have in store. A driver may keep that lumber for future use until it is no longer up to the task. Having said that, we do not recommend this practice.

First of all, scrap lumber is just that. Even if a visual inspection would make it seem as though lumber pieces are undamaged, there could be internal damage that could seriously compromise the wood. Second, scrap lumber tends to be more prone to warping and cracking when exposed to the elements. Any such warping or cracking reduces integrity.

Task-specific hardwood lumber with beveled edges is always the best choice for hauling steel coil. When used properly, it meets federal standards without question. Shippers also like to see this kind of lumber used as well. When they know a driver is willing to invest in hardwood lumber, they rest more comfortably in the knowledge that said driver will take better care of the load.

Beveled hardwood lumber for steel coil loads should be part of the flatbed trucker’s equipment supply at all times. Individual lumber pieces will last for years if used properly and taken care of. For a small investment in task-specific lumber pieces now, the trucker can virtually guarantee he or she always has the dunnage necessary when arriving to pick up a load.