More from: flatbed trailer

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.

 


Winch Winders: 5 Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Sometimes the brilliance of a particular tool lies in its simplicity. Oftentimes the most efficient tools are those with the simplest design and just a few moving parts. That certainly is the case with the humble winch winder. As a tool for truckers, the winch winder is brilliant in its simplicity and efficient in its design.

As you probably know, winches are fixed to flatbed trailers for the purposes of holding and winding webbing straps. When you use them, you don’t have to use ratchet straps or chains to secure cargo. You simply run the straps through the winch and wind them in place. When it is time to secure a load, straps can be stretched over the top and secured on the other side. Post-delivery, the straps are wound up and secured again.

 

If you are new to the whole winch winder concept, here are five handy tips that should increase your efficiency:

1. Apply a Bit of Tension

You will get a tighter wind and less crimping if you put a bit of tension on the strap as you’re winding. If you are using a two-handed winch winder, apply the tension with your foot. You could also put a wood block on the ground and run the strap underneath it. The block should be just heavy enough to do the trick but not so heavy as to prevent you from winding.

2.Consider a One-Handed Winder

If using your foot or a block doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can opt for a one-handed winder instead. This particular kind of winder is really just a smaller handle that can be cranked with a single hand while you apply tension with the other.

3. Mount According to Favored Hand

This next tip is one that truck drivers normally don’t think of until after they’ve installed their winches. Here it is: install each unit according to your favored hand. If you are right-handed, install your units with the handle to the right side (as you face it). That means the handles will point to the rear of the trailer on the driver’s side but toward the front on the passenger side.

If you are left-handed, install them in reverse. Make sure the handle is on the left side while facing it. Why do this? Because if the handles are on the opposite side, you will either have to use your non-favored hand to wind or you’ll have to turn sideways to use your favored hand. Neither option is all that efficient.

4. Install Every Foot or So

Next, we recommend installing a winch unit every 12 to 18 inches. Although this may seem like overkill, you know that the size and position of your loads is never the same from one trip to the next. If you do not have enough winches in place, you may find that you’re back to using ratchet straps because certain loads don’t line up with your winches.

5. Maintain Your Equipment

Last but not least, treat your winches and winch winders like every other piece of equipment you have. Maintain them by regularly checking for any kind of damage. Oil them periodically and, should one eventually rust, brush it off and seal it to prevent further rust.

Winch winders are a simple but ingenious invention that makes using webbing straps as easy as can be. With the right number of winches on both sides of the trailer, you will be ready for just about any load. Strap down your cargo with confidence and then, following delivery, quickly wind your straps and get back on the road.


Rigging 101: 3 Fundamental Questions about Shackles

Mytee Products carries a complete range of shackles as part of our rigging inventory. Customers use them to perform heavy lifts, particularly when loading unusual cargo onto flatbed trailers. We know how dangerous such lifts can be, which is why we do our best to encourage customers to adopt a safety-first mindset.

Where shackles are concerned, an important part of safety is thoroughly understanding what they are and how they work. There is not enough space in a single blog post to talk about shackles in detail, but we can offer a few basics. We have done so by way of three fundamental questions that we often hear from customers purchasing shackles for the first time.

 

What are the different kinds of shackles?

Shackles are defined by their shape and the pins they utilize. The purpose in classifying them this way stems from the fact that the shackle has two main paths through which energy travels: the main body and the pin.

In terms of shape, you are looking at anchor-style and chain-style shackles. The former is more circular in shape with the legs tapering toward the center of the shackle’s main body. The latter looks just like a chain link. For purposes of description, these kinds of shackles are sometimes referred to as D-shape shackles.

Pins can be either screw or bolt-type pins. A screw-type pin is just as its name suggests. It has a threaded end that is screwed into the opposite leg of the shackle after insertion. A bolt-type pin slips through both legs and is then secured by either a nut or cotter pin.

What are the biggest concerns when using shackles?

This question is usually born out of inexperience. It is a fair enough question and getting the right answers could mean the difference between a safe lift and an unnecessarily dangerous situation. From our perspective, here are the biggest concerns:

• Replacing manufacturer pins with generic bolts or unidentified pins. A replacement pin that is not strong enough can bend under load.
• Allowing shackles to be pulled at odd angles, thus allowing the legs to open. This could lead to a broken shackle.
• Mistakenly using deformed shackles or those with bent pins. Disaster awaits.
• Purposely forcing pins, or the shackles themselves, into position. This puts unnecessary stress on a shackle.
• Exceeding a 120° angle between multiple sling legs. This puts too much stress on sling and shackle alike.

Most of the concern over lifting with shackles relates to creating unsafe conditions by not using lifting equipment properly. The best way to avoid accidents is to thoroughly understand lifting principles and abide by all generally accepted safe lifting rules.

How often should shackles be inspected?

General guidelines say shackles should be inspected regularly. We prefer a more defined answer: inspect shackles prior to and after each lift. Shackles should be inspected for:

• pin hole elongation and wear
• any bending in the shackle body
• distortion, wear, fractures, or blemishes on pins
• pin straightness and seating
• any distortion in excess of 10% of a shackle’s original body shape.

It is always better to be safe than sorry where shackle inspections are concerned. Some normal wear and tear is expected over the life of a shackle, but wear and tear should not be enough to significantly alter the appearance or function of a shackle. The presence of any significant distortion is reason to discard a shackle.

We carry a variety of rigging equipment and supplies for your convenience. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions about our shackles, slings, etc.


Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top