More from: cargo control

How to Secure Cargo with an E-Track System

Most of what we talk about in terms of cargo control pertains to flatbed trailers. That said, we do not want to leave dry goods trailers out. Although cargo control to a certain extent pertains to trailers with four walls and a roof, cargo still needs to be kept in place during transit to prevent damage.

Cargo control is undoubtedly a bit easier when you have walls to work with. In fact, drivers can use those walls to their advantage by way of the E-track system. Most of your modern dry goods trailers come with E-track built-in so drivers don’t have to worry about it.

An E-track system consists of at least one track running along each side of the trailer. Sometimes there are multiple tracks. The tracks take their name from the shape of the receiving holes. Those holes accept a locking mechanism that, when looked at from the side, resembles the letter ‘e’.

Deploying the Shoring Beam

The easiest way to secure cargo inside a dry goods trailer is with something known as the shoring beam. This is an adjustable aluminum decking beam that fits into the E-track on both ends. You simply slide the beam into the track on one side, extend it across the trailer and connect it the other track.

The shoring beam represents the fastest cargo control method in dry goods trucking. Its weakness is that it is limited to certain kinds of cargo. It works well with large carts that might hold linens, paper goods, etc. It does not work well for palleted goods that might shift during transport.

E-Track Ratchet Straps

The dry goods equivalent of ratchet straps for flatbed trailers is the E-track ratchet strap. It works exactly the same way as its flatbed counterpart except that it is held in place on either end by the previously mentioned E-tracks. You simply hook both ends into the tracks and tighten down the strap with a built-in ratchet.

The straps are very convenient and quite effective for loads that will not remain stationary with the shoring beams. And because the straps can be woven in and around pieces of cargo, you can get a really tight fit.

Heavy-Duty Cargo Nets

From time to time a driver might carry a load that is naturally loose. An example that immediately comes to mind is dirty laundry heading from a depot to a laundry facility. A workable solution for keeping the laundry in place is the heavy-duty cargo net.

Heavy-duty cargo nets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are generally made of webbing material and include hooks or D-rings at key anchor points. They can be attached directly to tiedown points on the cargo or to the E-track using hooks and ropes.

J-Hooks and Tie-Offs

If all else fails, a driver can attach either J-hooks or tie-offs to the E-track on either side of the trailer. Ropes can then be used to secure cargo as needed. This is the most flexible solution when you are carrying a load that just cannot be secured in any other way. Having said that, these sorts of loads are not the norm for dry goods trailers.

If you do a lot of dry goods work, you are probably familiar with all of the items described here. The question is, what do your toolboxes look like? Do not be caught off guard by a shipper who calls you to pick up the trailer without properly securing the cargo. Have a good supply of E-track J-hooks and tie-offs just in case the shipper doesn’t provide any other means of properly securing the cargo.


Get Ready for Roadcheck 2019

It’s that time of year again when the entire trucking industry is talking about the annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck. This year’s event runs from June 4-6. The emphasis for 2019 is steering and suspension.

The CVSA teams up with police agencies and other regulatory bodies throughout North America to conduct the annual Roadcheck event. Every year they focus on something different. This past year, they focused primarily on enforcement of the electronic logging rules implemented in the U.S. in late 2017. Cargo control was the focus the year before.

As a company that supplies truckers with cargo control equipment, we feel it’s our responsibility to let drivers know that inspectors still look at cargo securement and safety during every Roadcheck event, irrespective of an event’s particular focus. Don’t let your cargo control be slack this year under the false assumption that the focus on steering and suspension means inspectors won’t be looking as closely at other issues.

Why Steering and Suspension

Focusing on steering and suspension may seem a bit odd given that trucks have to undergo thorough inspections in order to be remain roadworthy. Interestingly enough, the CVSA’s director of safety programs has said he doesn’t think they’ve ever focused on these two areas in past Roadchecks. So this year is apparently the year.

It also seems that steering and suspension violations are cited less frequently than most of the other things inspectors normally look at. That’s not to say that violations never occur; we know they do. It is simply that they aren’t as frequent as violations for improper cargo control, tire issues, brake issues, and such.

Driver should know that this year’s inspections will be guided by the standards of the North American Standard Level I Inspection. Inspectors will be following a strict 37-step process designed to verify vehicle integrity and driver operating requirements. An inspector may opt to also conduct the Level II, Level III, and Level IV inspections.

Cargo Control Concerns

Mytee Products focuses mainly on cargo control, so let’s talk about that in anticipation of the 2019 Roadcheck. It is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to make sure cargo is secure throughout transit. This applies regardless of the type of trailer being utilized.

Where flatbed trailers are concerned, federal law requires a certain number of tie-downs be used based on the size and weight of the load. Fewer tie-downs can be used if the trailer is fitted with a bulkhead at the front. All of the tie-downs must meet minimum working load limits, and all must be in good operating condition.

Note that inspectors will be looking for frayed webbing straps, worn ratchets, damaged chains, and so forth. They will be looking to see that blocks are used when necessary. In other words, expect them to look over every inch of your flatbed trailer and its load as part of the check.

Order from Our Website

As always, you can order the cargo control supplies you need directly from our website. Ordering online is fast, convenient, easy, and secure. We urge all truck drivers to go through their tool boxes to ensure they have the equipment and supplies they need in advance of the Roadcheck event.

Our industry has done fairly well over the last several years of Roadchecks. Let’s do even better this year. Motor carriers and independent contractors, get your trucks into the shop right now and make sure there are no problems with suspension and steering. Drivers, brush up on your cargo control knowledge and then go the extra mile to make sure you do things right.

 


Can Autonomous Trucks Understand Cargo Control

It seems as though the heavy trucking industry is working harder than ever to enter the realm of autonomous trucking. Every time an equipment manufacturer announces even the slightest bit of progress in the arena of automotive autonomy, dozens of news articles and blog posts begin speculating a future where trucks rumble down the highway without drivers sitting in their seats. We would like to suggest a bit of cautious skepticism.

Set aside heavy trucking for one minute and just consider all the hurdles that have to be overcome to make passenger vehicles autonomous. There is a reason we have been working on this for more than a decade and are might still have while towards achieving driverless driving. Autonomous technology must overcome the imperfections of humanity in order to succeed, and that is no easy task. Things are even more complicated when attempting to apply automotive autonomy to heavy trucking.

One of the biggest problems of autonomous trucking is based in cargo control. Both federal and state laws require truck drivers to properly secure their cargo prior to transit, then ensure it remains properly secured until delivery. Such mandates pose a big problem for autonomy. If you are going to truly automate trucking, you must also find a way to automate cargo control.

Loading and Securing Cargo

The first hurdle to overcome is automating cargo loading and securing. This is easier to do with dry vans, refrigerated vans, and other enclosed trailers. It is not so easy with open-deck trailers. In fact, it’s a lot harder in the open-deck environment.

A dry van is really just a box on wheels. It would be fairly simple to automate loading by utilizing a robotic conveyor system and stacking mechanism. Just create uniform pallets and the robots to handle them and you’re all set. We already have the technology to do it. As for flatbeds, it is an entirely different ballgame.

A flatbed, or open-deck trailer, is used primarily to transport cargo that cannot be moved safely or efficiently in an enclosed trailer. That automatically means non-standard loads that cannot be loaded and stacked by robots. It also means manual cargo control that requires the use of chains, straps, blocks, bungees, and truck tarps. Everything you would normally get in a box trailer scenario has to be implemented manually on an open deck.

We may someday have robots capable of inserting blocks and tying down concrete tubes. We might have drones that can deploy truck tarps much more quickly and efficiently than human beings. We may eventually reach a point at which loading lumber is an entirely automated process. However, we are not there yet.

Maintaining Cargo Control

It is a Herculean task just to automate loading and securing cargo. But for trucking to be completely autonomous, there has to be a way to maintain cargo control throughout an entire journey. Now you are talking about computer and robotic systems capable of monitoring chains, straps, etc. while a truck is in transit. And if anything is amiss, the system has to be able to self-correct.

Given the ever-changing environment of cargo control, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to automate the process at any point in the relatively near future. If true trucking autonomy is ever realized, we are likely looking at decades before workable prototypes are even available.

As wonderful as the idea is, autonomous trucking is more fantasy than reality. Cargo control is just one of the many hurdles that science is not close to overcoming at this point.


Roadside Cargo Inspections: What Do They Actually Check?

What would you say if we told you that the 2019 CVSA Roadcheck is now a mere seven months away? We know, it seems like this year’s Roadcheck was just conducted. Time flies when you’re having fun, right? Anyway, contemplating the 2019 event got us thinking about what inspectors actually check during roadside inspections.

Being that we supply the trucking industry with all sorts of cargo control supplies, we thought it might be helpful to better understand roadside inspections. So we dug around and found an interesting video created by the Indiana State police.

The video was quite enlightening to say the least. While we understand that what the trooper demonstrated in this video is open to some interpretation by police officers and DOT inspectors, the general principles described here are pretty standard. Let’s talk about those general principles.

Trailer and Cargo

The trooper in the video used an open-deck trailer carrying a piece of heavy construction equipment for demonstration purposes. One of the first cargo control things he talked about is securing all four corners of any load that exceeds a certain weight limit. He rattled off that weight limit like it’s second nature. That’s because it is. Inspectors know exactly what federal law says about tie-downs and load weight.

Next, the discussion moved to working load limits. The trooper used the binders holding the load to the trailer at all four corners as an example. He explained how those binders are legal because they cover all four corners and because their working load limits are applicable to the load.

He also discussed working load limits in relation to the chains used to tie down the load. Interestingly enough, the trooper had a handy gauge he could place on one of the chain links to quickly determine its size and grade. And he also found a marking on the chain that told him the actual working load limit. He calculated the math and decided that the chains were appropriate.

One last thing we found extremely fascinating is that the trooper’s chain gauge had two sides to it. The first side has gauges for all standard chain sizes. The second side had gauges that were 20% smaller than standard. If an inspector can fit a smaller gauge over a section of chain, that indicates the chain is at least 20% worn. The chain can no longer be used. It must be taken out of service.

Other Things They Check

Roadside inspections place a lot of emphasis on cargo control. But inspectors check other things as well. For example, tire pressure and wear are both big things. If an inspector doubts the integrity of truck’s tires at all, he/she will measure depth tread and take a pressure reading.

Oversize loads have to be marked with flags on each corner and the appropriate signage on the back of the trailer. Inspectors are looking for both of those things. When a load exceeds the length of the trailer by a certain amount, the inspector will be looking for some sort of flag attached to the back of the load as a warning to drivers.

These are the basic things inspectors are looking for during roadside cargo control inspections. Obviously, inspectors do a complete check of a truck from front to rear, looking at everything from lights to safety reflectors. We hope you will take this information and combine it with everything else you know about roadside inspections in order to improve your own cargo control efforts. Do not be the next driver taken out of service.

 


Could You Use a Cargo Control Cheat Sheet?

Our position as a supplier of cargo control equipment to the trucking industry affords us the opportunity to hear a lot of stories. Some of those stories involve roadside inspections that pit truck drivers against police officers and DOT inspectors in a battle of wills. It’s funny, but we have never gotten the impression that inspectors are purposely trying to make the lives of truck drivers miserable.

In our regular perusal of trucking industry news, we ran across a CDL Life article featuring a cargo control cheat sheet developed by an Indiana state trooper. It reminded us that there are police officers who genuinely want to help truckers avoid violations. The trooper who put out the cheat sheet seems to be one of them.

Our question to you is this: could you use the cheat sheet? Being that we are not truck drivers ourselves, we cannot answer the question for you. But even with our limited knowledge, the cheat sheet looks like it could be very useful.

Working Load Limits Chart

At the top of the cheat sheet is a chart that acts as a handy reference for working load limits (WLLs). The chart is based on standard sized chains from grades 30 through 100. These would be chains used to tie down coil, heavy equipment, and the like. Below that chart is a second, smaller chart with references to webbing straps.

We assume that truckers could use both these charts as a quick reference to determine whether they are using enough tie-downs or not. We realize that federal law requires a certain number of tie-downs based on the weight of a particular load. Drivers are also required to deploy those tie-downs in such a way as to prevent all forward and lateral movement.

To work out the math, the cheat sheet includes a handy table that a driver can fill out by hand. This facilitates doing the math necessary to make sure he or she gets it right. The chart accounts for:

•Operating weight
•Chain WLL
•Number of chains
•WLL percentages
•Current WLL load
•WLL still needed.

We imagine that using this table would offer a clear visual representation of what is actually going on. We can see how it might be helpful to those truckers trying to understand the tie-downs they need to maintain compliance.

Cargo Control Checklist

Underneath the WLL information is a checklist that asks drivers five basic questions. Those questions are as follows:

•Have you covered 50% of the weight of the load?
•Have you covered the length of the load?
•Have you determined if there is a specific commodity item?
•Are there any edge protection violations?
•Is the load prevented from shifting during transport?

We do not claim to know what all that means, but we trust truckers do. If there are any questions, the trooper who put the cheat sheet together went to the trouble of including the specific regulations pertaining to all five questions. There is no reason any trucker should use this checklist as intended and still get it wrong.

Kudos to the Indiana state trooper who did the work in preparing this cargo control cheat sheet. We hope it turns out to be a very useful tool to flatbed truckers. Heaven knows they could use as much help as they can get to maintain cargo control compliance.

For our part, we are here to supply truckers with the chains, straps, binders, and any other equipment they need to secure their cargo for transit. We offer high-quality products at great prices.