More from: Flatbed Truck Tarps

Why Are Only Some Loads Tarped

The sales staff at Mytee Products have the privilege of welcoming brand-new flatbed truckers to the industry by way of helping them figure out what kinds of cargo control supplies they need to keep on board. In so doing, it is not unusual for us to have conversations about the different kinds of truck tarps in our inventory. That leads to discussions about why some loads are tarped and others are not.

Needless to say that our tarp inventory is not limited to just one kind of tarp. We carry a full range of tarps for flatbeds including steel, lumber, coil, machinery, and smoke tarps. We also carry roll tarps for dump trucks and complete site kits. Anything that a new trucker could need we have.

With that said, you might be curious as to why some loads are tarped and others are not. Here is the whole story in four points:

1. The Type of Load

While it is technically possible to throw a tarp over any kind of load on an open-deck trailer, using a tarp is not always necessary. The truth is that some loads just do not need to be covered. For example, consider a load of cinder blocks. Unless there is some special circumstance dictated by the shipper, those blocks will make it clear across the country without needing to be covered.

On the other hand, there are certain loads that have to be covered every time. Industrial machinery is a good example. Things like multi-million-dollar CNC machines are covered during transport for obvious reasons.

2. Federal and State Regulations

Tarping is sometimes dictated by regulations. If you drive a dump truck, you know exactly what we mean here. Laws in all 50 states require that loose materials being transported in a dump truck be prevented from flying off in transit. While some states leave the decision of how to accomplish this to drivers, other states mandate tarps as the only method of load containment.

3. Shipper Requirements

There are times when tarping a load is dictated by the shipper. Despite the fact that truck drivers are ultimately responsible for protecting cargo, some shippers take it upon themselves to make sure their cargo is protected in a very specific way. They take no chances. As far as truck drivers are concerned, there is really nothing they can do when shippers make such demands.

Shippers know that the legal responsibility to protect cargo resides with drivers. All the same, they are reluctant to use drivers who resist their tarping demands. If they want tarps used, a driver either acquiesces or takes the chance of never getting another load from that shipper again.

4. Driver Preferences

Tarping can even be the preference of the driver. We have known some truck drivers who refuse to use tarps except when they are absolutely necessary. Yet we have also known drivers who would never think about transporting anything without covering it first. Different drivers have their own preferences in nearly every aspect of cargo control.

What is curious to us is that drivers do not get paid for the time it takes to secure their loads. They only get paid when the wheels are turning. And yet, there are drivers that tarp everything. It doesn’t matter whether they are hauling expensive lumber, steel pipes, or concrete road barriers, everything gets tarped.

The big take-away here is that there really aren’t any rules for what loads get covered. Drivers have to assess each load independently alongside federal and state regulations, shipper requirements, and their own tarping preferences.


Why Bees Are One of the Most Challenging Flatbed Loads

In the last couple of months we have seen an up-tick in demand for our bee nets (bee hauling tarps). It happens every spring. Beekeepers looking to transport large colonies over long distances rely on truck drivers and open-deck trailers. The bee nets we sell are intended to keep bees with their colonies and offer some protection against dirt and debris.

In thinking about it, we realized that hauling bees is one of the most challenging jobs in all of flatbed trucking. Right off the top, bees constitute live cargo. Truckers are not just hauling inanimate objects that could easily be replaced in the event of unforeseen damage. They are dealing with living creatures that beekeepers cannot afford to lose.

Dwindling Bee Populations

Honeybee populations have been dwindling over the last couple of decades or so. All around the world, researchers and beekeepers alike have been struggling to find out why colonies are collapsing. In the meantime, they have also been working to restore populations to previous levels. That is the reason truck drivers have to be so very careful when hauling bees.

Beekeepers cannot afford to lose even one hive. They certainly do not want to load a flatbed full of as many as 400 colonies only to have them all collapse before they reach their destination. As such, they are extremely strict guidelines beekeepers and truckers follow for preparing, loading, transporting, and unloading beehives.

From the Trucker’s Perspective

As you know, truck drivers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their cargo from the moment it is loaded until the moment it comes off the trailer. It is a lot of responsibility under normal circumstances, but the responsibility is even greater when a driver is hauling bees.

Truck drivers have to take great care to make sure hives are loaded gently and safely. He or she has to calculate weight to make sure the loaded rig falls within federal and state guidelines. The driver then has to check the height to make sure stacked hives are low enough to accommodate height restrictions. Finally, he or she has to tie down the load with straps in such a way as to secure each one without damaging the protective wood around it.

A bee net is put over the top of the load for reasons mentioned earlier in this post. If the beekeeper has done his/her job, very few bees will escape the hives during transport. Those that do will be kept in the general proximity by the bee net.

Once on the road, the driver has to stop at regular intervals to inspect the load. There can be no room for load shifting as this could upset the colonies. The driver also inspects the bee net to make sure it is still firmly in place. As for the driving itself, the trucker has to take it easy. He/she has to be easy on the gas, easy on the turns, and is consistent as possible with speed.

Good Driving Benefits All of Us

Provided the truck driver does everything by the book, we all benefit. Beehives reach their destination intact and full of healthy bees just waiting to get to work. Those bees are released to pollinate both farmlands and wild nature alike.

Did you know honeybees are among the most prolific pollinators in all of nature? They do the majority of the heavy lifting, so to speak, which is why we cannot afford to allow bee populations to fall any further. Those truck drivers who haul beehives do a difficult job for which we should all be grateful.


Are Parachute Fabric Tarps Good for Lumber Loads?

We were talking about some of the past conversations we’ve had with truck drivers when we remembered one particular conversation from about seven or eight years ago. The topic was parachute fabric and whether or not it was a good choice for truck tarps. Believe it or not, parachute fabric tarps were available back then. They were just not very popular.

This particular discussion was more about whether or not parachute fabric was appropriate for lumber loads. The driver in question didn’t know much about the fabric, nor did we at the time. His concern was that it was too light to withstand over-the-road travel. He also questioned whether the fabric would flop around enough to damage the load.

We did not have the answers back then, but we do have them now. Are parachute fabric tarps good for lumber loads? Absolutely. Like anything else, it is simply a matter of using them the right way.

How Parachute Tarps Are Constructed

Let us first discuss how parachute tarps are constructed. They are made of a ripstop material, generally nylon, chosen for its weight and strength. The material is designated as ‘ripstop’ because of the special weave pattern that prevents small holes and tears from continuing to grow.

Note that ripstop nylon will not hold back water forever. As such, most parachute fabric tarps still rely on a vinyl top panel to keep out moisture. Only the drops are made of the ripstop fabric. You still get a lighter tarp without sacrificing water resistance on the top.

Using Edge Protectors

Next, it’s important to use edge protectors when you’re deploying parachute fabric tarps. Even though these tarps are made of ripstop fabric, they are still susceptible to being punctured on sharp edges. There is no point in risking the integrity of a tarp based on the notion that ripstop fabric makes it stronger than vinyl.

Should you end up unintentionally puncturing a tarp, you can repair it. There is less risk of that puncture becoming a major problem due to the ripstop nature of the fabric.

Securing the Tarp

Finally, it is true that parachute fabric will flop around in the breeze more readily than vinyl. It has two things working against it in this regard. The first is its lighter weight. Second is a weave pattern that is specifically designed to catch the air. What does this tell truck drivers? To secure a parachute fabric tarp all the way around the load.

Some drivers go around the perimeter using webbing straps or a series of bungee straps. Others use long lengths of rubber rope. Still other drivers attach bungees at each grommet and secure them to the trailer. How you go about it is entirely up to you. The point is to secure the tarp in such a way as to prevent as much movement as possible.

We Carry Parachute Fabric Tarps

At the end of the day, parachute fabric is an appropriate material for lumber loads. It is also great for steel, cable, machinery, and just about anything else you could carry on the back of a flatbed trailer. Just know that you have to be a little more careful at deployment and removal. Parachute fabric tarps are easily caught by the wind, so you have to be more deliberate in order to maintain control while you’re tarping.

We are happy to say that Mytee Products carries a selection of parachute fabric tarps. We invite you to look over our inventory whether you’re looking to add to your existing tarps or replace those that are worn out or damaged.


You’re a Good Candidate for Parachute Tarps If…

A typical week here at Mytee Products sees us answering questions about parachute tarps from at least one flatbed truck driver. Sometimes we get half-a-dozen or more inquiries. One of the things drivers ask is why they should buy parachute fabric instead of vinyl. Maybe it’s because truckers have been so used to vinyl for so long that they just have no idea there are alternatives.

There is no single thing we can point to that says parachute fabric is better than vinyl or canvas. It has been our experience that truckers prefer different kinds of tarps for different kinds of jobs. The best we can do is offer a few suggestions that might help them figure it out.

Let us try that here. You are a good candidate for parachute tarps if…

1. You’re Not As Young As You Used to Be

It has been said that truckers never die, they just downshift. Whether or not that’s true, truckers do get old like everyone else. And with age comes aches and pains. We say that you might be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you are an older driver who no longer has the strength and stamina to wrestle with vinyl.

The biggest benefit of a parachute tarp is its weight. Parachute fabric is lighter, so you have a lot less weight to throw over the top of a load with a parachute tarp.

2. You’re an Expert at Tarping

It’s not unusual to caution new truck drivers against using parachute tarps given that they don’t offer the same kind of protection against moisture. By the way, that’s why parachute tarps have vinyl tops. The vinyl will hold back standing water where parachute fabric won’t.

Be that as it may, parachute tarps might be right up your alley if you’ve been trucking long enough to be a tarping expert. You know what works and what doesn’t. You don’t have to practice tarping overkill to protect your loads.

3. You Have a Tendency to Rip Vinyl

Next, you might also be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you have a tendency to rip vinyl. This is not to say that parachute fabric never rips or tears; it does. But parachute fabric is ripstop fabric. That means it is made with a special weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing.

Bear in mind that using edge protectors is still a wise idea even with the tarp made of ripstop nylon. But at least a minor tear or rip will not become a major disaster before you get your load to its destination. You cannot necessarily say the same thing about vinyl.

4. You Want to Try Something New

You’ve been on the road now for decades. In all your years you have used nothing but vinyl and canvas. Now you’re looking for something new, something that will shake things up a bit. Perhaps it’s time to give parachute tarps a chance. Parachute fabric certainly does take some getting used to, and you might welcome the challenge of tarping with a lighter material that can sail away in the wind.

Please note that all of our parachute fabric tarps offer the same quality and durability as our vinyl and canvas tarps. Parachute fabric tarps come in a variety of sizes and styles designed to meet the needs of the modern trucker. If you have any questions about our parachute tarps, don’t be afraid to ask. And if you need something you don’t see in our inventory, let us know. We’ll do what we can to get it for you.


Truck Tarp Terms Every Flatbed Driver Should Know

The internet is a great source of information for new flatbed drivers trying to figure things out. But it can be somewhat amusing to read online conversations between veterans and newbies. The newbies are desperately looking for answers while the veterans are using terms the rookies just do not understand. Sometimes they have to go back and forth for a while before both are speaking the same language.

One of the hardest things about mastering flatbed trucking is learning how to cover loads. Truckers call this tarping, and it is a critical skill for succeeding as a flatbed driver. It helps new drivers to learn the terminology so that they can have productive discussions with veterans.

 

Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

To that end, here are some truck tarp terms that every flatbed truck driver should know:

1. Tail

Sometimes known as a flap, the tail is an extra piece of material that hangs off the back of the load. Some tarps have an additional flap for the front, in cases when a trailer doesn’t have a bulkhead. The point of the tail is to provide that added protection at the rear. As an added benefit, the tail also helps truck drivers better position their tarps by giving them a centering reference point.

2. Drop

Every flatbed load has to be accounted for in terms of both width and height. The term ‘drop’ refers to the height of the load – from the bed of the trailer to the top. Let us use some simple numbers to illustrate this. A load that sits 8 feet high and 8 feet wide has a drop of 8 feet on either side. Covering the load entirely would require a tarp at least 24 feet wide. Remember that you have to account for the top surface as well as both drops.

3. Gusset

Seamstresses and tailors know the gusset as an extra piece of material sewn into a garment to allow for movement. In the truck tarp arena, a gusset is also one extra piece of material. But it is not there to allow for movement. Rather, the gusset serves as an extra rain flap.

Gussets are sewn into each side of the tarp, along the back edge. Once the tarp is folded down to cover the drop, gussets are folded across the back of the load and over the top of the tail. It is a lot like that extra paper you have when wrapping a Christmas present. You fold it over on the sides and tape it down.

4. D-Rings

D-rings are just what their name implies: rings manufactured in the shape of a ‘D’ and sewn into tarps at regular intervals. They are reinforced by extra material and stitching so that they do not pull out under load. The purpose of the D-ring is to provide an anchor point for bungee straps or a loop through which a webbing strap can be threaded. D-rings help keep tarps in place.

5. Tarping System

Last but not least is the tarping system. This term is used to describe a complete system consisting of aluminum frame, tarp, and motor used to deploy tarps automatically. Such systems are found most often on dump trucks and trailers. But they can be used with side kits as well. A tarping system virtually eliminates all the work of deploying tarps.

Now you know some of the most common tarping terms in the flatbed trucking industry, it is time for you to start stocking your truck with the tarps, straps, and edge protectors necessary for doing your job. You will find everything you need right here at Mytee Products.