More from: cargo control

3 Ways Cargo Control is A Lot Like Planning Loads

Owner-operators have one of the toughest jobs in trucking. Not only are they hauling loads from coast-to-coast, they are also responsible for every other aspect of their businesses. They handle bookkeeping, taxes, and even contacting brokers and shippers to obtain loads.

Making it as an owner-operator is not easy. Over the years we have talked to many of them about their secrets to success. What we consistently hear about is planning loads. How a trucker goes about load planning partly determines his or her overall success.

We got to thinking about load planning and realized that it shares quite a few similarities with good cargo control. Maybe that’s why owner-operators with good load planning skills tend to be equally skilled at tying down and securing their cargo. Be that as it may, below are three ways that cargo control is a lot like load planning.

1. Thinking Ahead is a Big Plus

The most successful owner-operators are always planning a load ahead. They do not wait until they drop their current load to start thinking about where to find the next one. Planning ahead keeps the wheels turning and the money coming in. It also gives truck drivers an edge in that, with a little bit of knowledge, they can stay a step ahead of brokers who aren’t necessarily prepared to pay the best rates to drivers who are more haphazard in their planning.

Cargo control requires thinking ahead as well. Winter is long gone right now, but it will be back before you know it. How many truck drivers start thinking about chains, tarps, and other winter equipment needs during the summer? Obtaining what you need before the snow starts flying is the best way to guarantee you won’t be caught without it.

2. Knowing Where You’re Going Helps

Next up, a good owner-operator knows and understands the market he/she is heading to. Let’s say he/she is hauling a load from the Midwest distribution center to a large retailer in the Northeast. What freight lanes are hot right now? What can he/she pick up at the destination that puts him/her in the best position to get into one of those lanes?

Knowing where you’re going makes for better load planning. It also makes for better cargo control. If a driver knows what to expect from traffic, weather, etc. at the destination to which he/she is traveling, he/she also has a better idea of what will be necessary to secure and protect the next load being picked up.

3. Less Favorable Loads Are Sometimes Necessary

It stands to reason that an owner-operator would always want those loads offering above average rates. That’s reasonable. With some hard work and the right skills, it’s also quite possible to get above average rates most of the time. But there are still times when an owner-operator has to take a less profitable load. Sometimes it is better to keep the wheels rolling at a lower rate than remaining idle while you look for a higher rate.

Likewise, flatbed truckers look for the loads that are going to be as easy as possible to secure and transport. The less time and effort spent on cargo control, the more time a driver has to actually drive. Yet there are times when less favorable loads are necessary.

It turns out that load planning and cargo control have a lot of similarities. Whether you are an owner-operator or an employed driver, how much time and effort do you put into both? The best of the best do whatever is necessary to get the job done.


The Roadcheck is Over – Now What?

By the time you read this post, the 2019 CVSA Roadcheck will be in the record books. Trucks throughout North America will have been inspected by CVSA, federal, and state police officials in an attempt to remind drivers of their responsibilities toward road safety. We will not know until later this year how well the industry did when compared to 2018. But now that the Roadcheck is over for another year, what’s next?

As important as the annual Roadcheck is, there is a hidden danger to doing it every year: complacency. Every year we see blog posts, news articles, and even training seminars in the months leading up to the event. These are all very good things. However, all the attention paid to road safety during those months seems to suddenly disappear at the end of June.

Cargo Control Year-Round

Experienced truck drivers know that the emphasis of the Roadcheck changes every year. In 2018, inspectors focused heavily on electronic logging. The big emphasis this year is steering and suspension. However, inspectors are not limited to the Roadcheck’s annual focus. They still give trucks and drivers a thorough review in every respect.

Given that Mytee Products specializes in cargo control, that is what we tend to put our efforts into when we educate drivers. That’s where we go from here. In other words, we will continue educating truck drivers and motor carriers about proper cargo control even though Roadcheck 2019 is now in the rear-view mirror.

Proper cargo control is a year-round enterprise. It does not begin and end with the CVSA’s Roadcheck. In fact, we believe giving the proper amount of attention to cargo control eliminates the need to be extra diligent during the first week of June. If a truck driver is diligent about cargo control throughout the entire year, the week of the annual Roadcheck will not be anything unusual.

Know Your Equipment

If you are a truck driver, your first task moving forward is to know your equipment. Understand exactly what kinds of equipment you need to properly secure your loads. Educate yourself about things like working load limits, lateral and horizontal movement, federal cargo control rules, and so forth.

Also make a point of regularly inspecting your equipment to make sure it is in good working condition. It only takes one frayed webbing strap or a rusting chain to create a precarious situation. Check everything from your ratchets to your hooks and turnbuckles.

When something does show that first sign of wear, do not play games. Either get it repaired or replace it. The last thing a truck driver needs is to be caught off guard with a piece of broken equipment and no replacement. And should that one piece of equipment lead to an accident, dire consequences could follow.

Fully Stock Your Truck

The approach of summer means weather that is a lot less threatening to truck cargo. This is the time of year when you are not worrying as much about heavy winds and the damage ice and snow can cause. So this is also an appropriate time of year to check your inventory. Summer is the ideal time to fully stock your truck with tarps, straps, chains, edge protectors, and so forth.

Hopefully the numbers will look good when the CVSA releases them later this year. Hopefully, America’s truck drivers did better in 2019 than they did in 2018. Let us all work together to do even better in 2020. The more we can do to improve safety within the trucking industry, the safer all of our highways will be.


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.