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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.


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.


Tips for Finding the Right Cargo Control Supplies

Mytee Products sales personnel take a lot of pleasure in helping new flatbed truck drivers stock their trucks with cargo control supplies. We take immense pride in the fact that we have just about everything a trucker needs to keep cargo in place. Yet we get the fact that figuring out cargo control is a learning process. Drivers new to flatbeds may not necessarily know what they need.

We obviously want you to make good purchase decisions. It helps neither you nor us when you buy cargo control equipment you do not really need. It also doesn’t help you to be caught in the field without the right equipment. So to address both potential problems, we have put together a list of tips for finding the right cargo control supplies.

Figure out Your Loads

The very first thing to do is figure out the kinds of loads you are most likely to carry. As a new driver, you are probably willing to take just about anything that will fit on the back of a trailer. But realize that newbies do not have access to everything. It takes a while to work your way up to the more complicated loads. As a new driver, the bulk of your work is likely going to be things like lumber, pipe, building supplies, and other types of easy-to-manage cargo.

Visit Online Trucking Forums

Online trucking forums are a great resource for helpful information. You should join as many as you can even if you are not looking for cargo control advice. Having said that, feel free to post questions having to do with everything from tarps to ratchet straps and using blocks.

Veteran truckers should be happy to share their knowledge with you. And make no mistake, they are a wealth of information. The most generous among them will tell you everything you need to know down to brand name preferences. Some of them might even recommend us as a preferred supplier.

Ask Shippers Direct Questions

Next, do not assume to understand what a shipper expects. Instead, ask very direct questions about how they want cargo secured and protected. Some don’t really care as long as the load gets to its destination safely. Others are very particular. They expect you to use a specific number of straps, a particular kind of tarp, and a certain number of edge protectors.

Check out Other Rigs

You are going to encounter other flatbed rigs during your travels. Pay attention to them. Check out how other drivers are securing the same kinds of loads you carry. Not only will you increase your knowledge of cargo control equipment, you will also learn some of the best trade secrets. Always remember that observation is a great tool.

Talk to Our Sales Professionals

Lastly, we recommend speaking with Mytee Products sales professionals. We may not drive trucks for a living ourselves, but we have decades of experience in this industry. We know exactly how every piece of equipment we sell is supposed to work. We know what each piece of equipment is intended to do. We also know how to use our equipment and supplies according to federal and state regulations.

If necessary, one of our sales professionals can even demonstrate how to use a piece of equipment on your truck. We are more than happy to help if you need that kind of assistance.

At the end of the day, we have everything the flatbed trucker needs to keep cargo secure. It’s just a matter of figuring out what your loads require and then stocking your truck accordingly.


How Much Time Can You Really Save with a Winch Winder

We recently began carrying two kinds of winch winders designed to make it easier for flatbed truckers to use webbing straps. These handy little devices wind up your straps right in place. There is no manual rolling or toolbox storage necessary. With a winch winder, you are spending less time taking care of straps and more time driving.

So, how much time can you really save with a winch winder? It may not seem like much in the moment, but it is quite a bit when you add it up over an entire year. Remember that every minute you spend doing something other than driving, you are not making money. So keeping your wheels turning is critical to your livelihood.

winch winder

Save Hours Every Year

You can visit our YouTube channel and see both of our winch winders in action. You’ll see that it’s easy to wind up a strap in under a minute. But for easy math, let’s just say it took you one minute per strap and you’re using four straps to secure a load.

It would take you a total of 4 minutes to wind and secure all your straps. Now what if you were rolling those straps manually? We will be generous and say it takes you 3 minutes to tightly wind each strap for storage. Now you’re looking at a total of 12 minutes as opposed to just 4 with a winch winder.

A total of 8 minutes difference doesn’t seem like much. But if you saved that amount of time every single week for 50 weeks (you are on vacation for two), you would be saving 600 minutes annually. That works out to 10 hours. You save a full day of additional driving every year. How much is that worth to you?

Winch Winding Is More Efficient

We bet you’ve probably never stopped to think about how long it takes to manually roll straps and store them away. Likewise, you’ve probably never considered how much time winch winders can save you over the course of a year. In the end though, it really boils down to efficiency.

Winding a strap in place is far more efficient than pulling it off the truck, stretching it on the ground, and manually rolling it up. The efficiency comes by way of eliminating several steps. For starters, you are not actually removing the strap from the truck. It remains attached to the winder throughout.

Second, you’re not having to stretch out the strap along the ground in order to manually roll it. And third, you’re not carrying the straps to your toolbox for storage. Everything occurs in place for the most efficient storage option of all.

It All Adds Up

Again, we understand you probably don’t think a couple of minutes per strap is all that important in the grand scheme of things. And maybe it’s not. Perhaps you don’t haul enough flatbed loads to warrant, at least in your mind, investing in winch winders. But consider this: it’s all of those little things that add up.

Truck drivers do a lot of things that have nothing to do with driving. There’s the pre-trip inspection, checking manifests, planning routes; and on and on it goes. All of those extra things add up to a lot of time the driver isn’t earning any money.

The point of installing winch winders is not to save you $1 million on strap storage. It is to reduce the time spent doing one of those mundane tasks for which you don’t earn any money. And the end, every little bit helps.


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.