More from: flatbed trucker

Here’s the #1 Reason We Sell Moisture Testers

Mytee Products was built around the idea of selling cargo control supplies to flatbed truckers. We started with basics like truck tarps, chains, webbing straps, and the like. We eventually expanded into other kinds of tarps along with truck tires and trailer equipment. But today, our inventory also includes agriculture supplies. Moisture testers are a good example.

You might think it odd for a company like ours to sell moisture testers. That’s fine. We want you to know why we do it. We think there is a lot of value in offering local farmers a couple of key items they can easily get through us rather than having to send away for them.

With that said, let us get back to the main point: why we sell moisture testers. The number one reason for doing so is encapsulated in a sobering article published by the Abilene-RC.com website in early November (2018). The headline of the article is Mold in Corn Causing Livestock Deaths. That about says it all.

Fumonisin Mycotoxin Killing Animals

A mycotoxin is a secondary substance produced by various kinds of fungus. Mycotoxins in an agricultural setting are almost always a threat to animal health; often times they are deadly. Such is the case with the fumonisin mycotoxin. It has been wreaking havoc in Dickson County, Kansas in recent weeks.

According to the article, both horses and swine in north-central Kansas have fallen victim to the mycotoxin. Rabbits have been affected as well. Where is this mycotoxin coming from? Mold growing within local plant life. They believe the particular problem in Kansas has to do with moldy corn.

If the mold manages to grow in the plant portion of the corn, it can eventually attach itself to the kernels as well. This is normally not a problem at harvest time as long as moisture levels are controlled. But if the corn is allowed to retain too much moisture, the mold grows, multiplies, and starts releasing the fumonisin mycotoxin.

Conditions in north-central Kansas are perfect for fumonisin problems right now. Unfortunately, the local area had a very wet autumn in concert with a spring that saw normal rainfall. The weather produced ideal conditions for mold to grow.

Hay Can Experience Similar Problems

Mytee Products sells a number of moisture testers for both grain and hay testing. Although hay was not mentioned in the Abilene-RC.com article, it is subject to similar kinds of problems. Hay with too much moisture can easily promote mold growth throughout an entire winter season of storage. That mold can result in exposure to at least half-a-dozen different mycotoxins that can have varying effects on cattle.

Some of the mycotoxins associated with most hay produce little more than the animal equivalent of allergies or the common cold. But others can be quite debilitating – or even deadly. We advocate for the regular use of moisture testers for this very reason. It is imperative that proper moisture levels be maintained while hay is in storage. Otherwise, the lives of animals could be at risk.

We get that farmers long relied on experience and intuition in the days before moisture testers existed. We certainly appreciate that as well. But the modern moisture tester represents technology capable of giving farmers a very accurate reading. Why not make full use of it? A moisture tester could mean the difference between preventing mycotoxin exposure or standing by while animals get sick.

 


4 Loads That Are Perfect for the Flatbed Trailer Side Kit

The flatbed trailer side kit is one of those products truckers are not sure if they really need. Technically speaking, a side kit is really not necessary to make a living as a flatbed trucker. But owning one does increase your job opportunities. Some shippers expect their loads to be secured in specific ways, and sometimes that means using a side kit.

If you are new to the flatbed game, a side kit is essentially an on-demand enclosure that can completely cover a load from top to bottom much the same way a dry van does. The advantage of the side kit is that it can be installed and removed as needed. Use it when you need it; keep it stored when you don’t.

Here are four kinds of loads that are perfect for the side kit:

1. Loose Agricultural Products

Agricultural products that will not be damaged under their own weight usually don’t have to be pack too carefully for transport. All the truck driver really needs to do is protect the crop against moisture, sunlight, and road debris. The side kit is perfect for this. We are talking about crops like corn, watermelon, and soybeans, by the way.

Along those same lines, there are agricultural products normally transported in crates that can also be handled with a flatbed and side kit. The advantage of the side kit is that the product can be loaded directly onto the trailer without first having to create it. A side kit makes the job faster and more efficient.

2. Industrial Machinery

The majority of flatbed truckers transport industrial machinery just by securing it in place and throwing tarps over it. But as you may already know, industrial machinery comes in all sorts of odd shapes and sizes that do not necessarily make standard tarping easy. Some pieces can be downright impossible to keep completely covered just with tarps alone.

A side kit completely encloses already secured machinery. There are no worries of tarps flying off en route. There are no concerns over damaging tarps on sharp edges. There is no need to use edge protectors and other peripheral equipment normally used in the tarping process.

3. Weather-Sensitive Loads

As wonderful as truck tarps are, they cannot always keep out the weather entirely. Loads extra sensitive to precipitation and sun might be better off enclosed by a side kit rather than covered only in tarps. Loads could be anything from designer building materials to sensitive manufacturing equipment. If there is a need to take special precautions against moisture and sun, a side kit is usually a better option than tarps alone.

4. Wind-Sensitive Loads

Similar to weather sensitive loads are those sensitive to the wind. We are talking about loads that are unusually light, loads that can easily be tossed about at highway speeds if wind were allowed to get underneath them. It might be a lot easier in such cases for the truck driver to install a side kit rather than having to go to great lengths to make sure there is no possibility of wind getting between tarp and load.

Side kits do take some time to install and remove, so they are not ideal for every job. But some jobs require an extra level of protection that tarps alone do not offer. These are the kinds of jobs that are ideal for side kits. If you are a flatbed trucker and you do not own one, now is the time to get one. A side kit will give you more opportunities to find work and make money.


The 9 Components of the FMCSA Cargo Securement System

It is common for truck drivers new to the flatbed game to wonder whether the use of bulkheads is required by law or not. In short, it’s not. But there is a lot more to cargo control than that. The federal government lays out a very strict set of rules defining how cargo is to be secured and controlled. Bulkhead deployment is just one small part.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes its rules in a document known as the Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement. It can be downloaded from the agency’s website free of charge. Section 2 of the rules describes the ‘Components of the Securement System’ as defined by the FMCSA. There are nine components to consider:

1. Floors

The assumption here is that the floors referred to in the rules relate to the decking on a trailer. Dry vans, reefers, and straight flatbeds have a single level and, as such, completely flat decks. Step deck trailers are a different matter. You can have two or three different levels depending on design. At any rate, floors play a crucial part in cargo control by providing a certain amount of friction wherever the load comes in contact with flooring.

2. Walls

This component only comes into play for flatbed truckers when side kits are used. A side kit offers temporary walls that can help contain cargo that would otherwise be difficult to control. Obviously, dry goods vans and reefer trailers have the benefit of full enclosure.

3. Decks

This can apply to either the multiple decks of a step-deck trailer or the dual decks of an auto hauler. Decks are similar to floors in terms of their usefulness for cargo control.

4. Tiedown Anchor Points

Tiedown anchor points available for securing cargo are perhaps the most critical component of a cargo control system. Truckers use those anchor points with chains, webbing straps, and bungees. In a dry van or reefer setting, tiedown points are usually mounted on the walls.

5. Headboards

A headboard is the equivalent of a bulkhead on a straight truck – flatbed or box. It prevents the cab of the truck from being breached by shifting cargo in the event such cargo moves forward.

6. Bulkheads

The bulkhead is that forward barrier on the front of a flatbed trailer. In the absence of a bulkhead, flatbed operators have to use extra straps to keep cargo from moving.

7. Stakes

Stakes are anchor points attached to the floor of a trailer or straight truck. They can be used in a number of ways with straps, chains, and blocks.

8. Posts

Posts protrude from a flatbed trailer frame along its perimeter. Posts are an important part of the side kit in that they provide both stability for walls and extra anchor points for cargo control.

9. Anchor Points

The term ‘anchor points’ is more of a generic term encompassing every kind of anchor point on a truck or trailer. Cargo is connected to anchor points by way of chains and straps. The more anchor points, the better.

All of this is probably elementary to you if you are an experienced truck driver. However, a helpful reminder every now and again is not a bad thing. In the arena of cargo control, knowing what you’re doing means all the difference in the world to both safety and legal compliance.

We recommend you download the FMCSA rulebook and keep it handy. You never know when you might have a cargo control question that doesn’t have a quick and easy answer.

 


That Moment Your Expensive Headache Rack Pays for Itself

CTV news in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) aired a shocking story back in December 2014 following an accident involving a flatbed rig carrying steel beams on Highway 1. The truck driver was lucky to walk away with only minor injuries in what could have been a fatal incident. His experience serves as a reminder of why headache racks are so important.

The tractor-trailer headache rack is a lot like those drop-down oxygen masks in commercial airliners. They are there if you need them, but you hope you never have to actually use them. But life doesn’t always go that smoothly.

All across the country there are tractor-trailer drivers who do their jobs with the peace of mind that comes with being protected by a headache rack. But there are trucks not fitted with headache racks. More often than not, they are used mostly for local delivery operations.

A Life-Saving Investment

We get it that some motor carriers do not believe investing in headache racks is a wise use of valuable financial resources. If you’re running a local or regional operation that dictates most of your trucks travel fewer than 100 miles per day, it’s easy to view the headache rack as an unnecessary accessory. But the moment a headache rack saves a driver’s life, you realize just how important the investment really is.

For the record, the driver in the 2014 Vancouver accident was not charged in the mishap. Local police said that his load was properly secured and that his truck was not overweight. Still, two of the steel beams on his trailer shifted forward when he hit the brakes too hard on an off-ramp.

One of the beams slammed through the back of the truck, the front windshield, and across the hood. The front of the beam landed on the pavement while the rear of the beam remained inside the cab. In what can only be described as a miracle, it completely missed the driver’s head. Just a few inches to one side and the driver could have been decapitated.

The point to make here is that even a properly secured load can break free under the right conditions. Here in the States, flatbed truckers have to use extra straps when there is no bulkhead on the flatbed trailer, but even extra straps are not foolproof protection. The headache rack isn’t foolproof either, but having one is still safer than not having one.

Added Storage Space to Boot

From our perspective as a dealer in trucking equipment and supplies, we see an added benefit to outfitting all your trucks with headache racks. That benefit is extra storage space. As long as you’re investing in headache racks, you might just as well spend a little more on models that include storage space for straps, chains, bungee cords, and more.

It is true that you can get just a plain headache rack with no storage built in. And if budget were your primary concern, that would be understandable. But you still need storage space for all those cargo control supplies your drivers use to keep their loads secure. All those things have to be stored somewhere.

A headache rack with built-in storage reduces the need for externally-mounted toolboxes. They definitely eliminate the need for you to store equipment on the back of the trailer; equipment that also needs to be tied down to keep it secure.

That moment a headache rack saves a driver’s life is the moment you realize how important headache racks are. So, are your trucks properly equipped?

 


Bulkhead or Penalty Strap: You Make the Call

The common trailer bulkhead can be viewed as a multipurpose tool. A driver can use it as an anchor point for tarps or the starting point for installing a side kit. But at the end of the day, the primary purpose of the bulkhead is to prevent forward movement of cargo. For the flatbed trucker, it is either bulkhead or penalty strap.

We are not quite sure where the term ‘penalty strap’ comes from, but it does a good job of describing how some truck drivers feel about having to use extra tie-downs to prevent cargo from shifting forward. Extra tie-downs means extra work. To that end, a driver might feel that he or she is incurring some sort of penalty for choosing to not use a bulkhead.

There is no right or wrong choice here. It is a matter of driver preference. Knowing the finer points of both options gives drivers a clear understanding of what is best for them.

The Kinds of Loads Carried

Let’s face it, some loads are easier to secure with penalty straps than others. A load of brick stacked on wooden pallets does not need a whole lot of extra effort to prevent forward movement. Do a few calculations, grab an extra strap or two, and the driver is good to go. Not so with a load of rail.

Rail doesn’t benefit as much from gravity and friction as brick does. Therefore, preventing its forward movement is a little more complicated. The extra time and effort it takes to deploy penalty straps could easily be avoided with a bulkhead.

Doing the Math at Load

A good case for installing a bulkhead is to avoid having to do the math at loading time. For instance, check out these starting calculations:

A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight of 1,100 pounds or less = 1 tiedown.
A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight in excess of 1,100 pounds = 2 tie-downs.
A load between five and 10 feet, regardless of weight = 2 tie-downs.                                                    A load longer than 10 feet = 2 tie-downs with an additional tiedown for every 10 feet.

These numbers just tell the driver how many tie-downs to use. The driver also has to consider the working load limits of each strap. It is a lot easier just to install a bulkhead with a high enough rating to cover most of the loads the trucker will haul.

Straps and Chains Wear Out

One final consideration is that straps and chains wear out. It is conceivable that a trucker can use the correct number of tie-downs and properly account for working load limits and still be found in violation. That’s because inspectors can take straps and chains out of service if they observe what they believe to be unacceptable wear and tear.

Bulkheads are subject to wear and tear as well, but not nearly as much. Therefore, it stands to reason that taking penalty straps out of the equation in favor of a bulkhead reduces the chances of being found in violation. The fewer tie-downs in play, the fewer opportunities for wear and tear to cause problems.

We understand that there are very valid reasons for declining to use a bulkhead on a flatbed trailer. Yet, there are some very definite advantages to choosing a bulkhead over penalty straps. It’s really up to each driver to decide what’s best for him or her. Should you decide to go the bulkhead route, Mytee Products can get you squared away.