More from: truck driver

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.


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.


Top 4 Reasons to Buy Cargo Control Equipment Online

When Mytee Products first began operating more than 30 years ago, online shopping wasn’t a thing. Yes, there were small numbers of retailers forward thinking enough to offer their products online, but the vast majority of retail still took place in local stores and shops. How things have changed.

Today there is virtually nothing you cannot buy online. Even the most obscure products have an online home. As a truck driver, you can get your cargo control equipment directly through our website.

We welcome those truckers who stop in and see us at our Aurora, Ohio facility. If you are ever in town, we invite you to stop in yourself. Meanwhile, there are some particularly good reasons to buy what you need online. Here are just four of them.

1. Online Shopping is Convenient

We would wager that the number one reason people shop online is convenience. Without our e-store, you would have to plan to make a trip to visit our warehouse whenever you needed new tarps, winch straps, etc. That is not a bad deal if you are a planner who normally thinks ahead. It doesn’t work well in emergencies, though.

Online shopping lets you buy the products you need whenever you have the time to shop for them. Turn on the computer and shop just before you bed down for the night. Shop for those new tarps while you are having lunch at the diner. Shopping online is shopping on your schedule.

cargoonline

2. Buying is Immediate

Hand-in-hand with convenience is the ability to purchase immediately. Let’s say you’re unloading and you discover that one of your tarps has a hole in it. In the old days, you would have to wait until you could stop by the store to purchase a replacement or a tarp repair kit. But who knows? You might forget before you ever reach the store.

Online shopping lets you purchase that tarp or repair kit the minute you know you have the need. Buy it right away and there is no chance you will forget it.

3. More Time to Browse

For our money, one of the unsung heroes of online shopping is the person willing to spend a couple of hours just browsing. At the end of the day, the retail world is highly competitive. Even in cargo control, you’re going to find a wide range of prices from one supplier to the next. The wise shopper shops around rather than just buying the first thing that pops up.

Shopping online affords you the opportunity to browse at your own pace. If you’ve a couple of hours to kill at the end of the day, you can pull out your laptop or mobile device and browse for all of the supplies you know you’re going to need in the next several months. Take your time and look around. You aren’t going anywhere anyway.

4. Opportunities to Read Reviews

Finally, shopping online gives you access to customer reviews. You don’t get these kinds of reviews when you’re standing at a retail counter talking to a sales associate. Of course that associate is going to tell you that his products are great. Wouldn’t you rather hear it from a customer who has already purchased those products? That’s what customer reviews are for.

We love the fact that people can purchase Mytee Products online. We still invite you to visit us in Ohio, but we understand that it’s not possible for most of our customers. So just pop online, browse our inventory, and purchase exactly what you need from the comfort of your own truck.


What To Do When You Don’t Have a Winch Winder

We at Mytee Products believe that winch winders are simple but ingenious tools. Winch winders certainly qualify as those little things that make truck drivers jobs easier. It could also be coincidence that they are a popular product with our experienced truck drivers.

A winch winder is essentially a tool you attach to your winches in order to wind up straps post-delivery. It makes strap winding so easy that you can get a strap wound up and secured in under a minute. If you are not using a winch winder, then what? What are your other options?

A Winch Bar?

Let’s assume you use a standard winch bar to tighten down your straps when securing cargo. Winch bars are pretty common. You could, at least in theory, use that same bar to wind your straps back up again. But that would take forever and a day. Not only that, your arms would be pretty tired by the time you get finished. Even a ratcheting winch bar is not all that great for winding straps.

A winch bar is a good tool for tightening straps over the top of cargo. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get straps tight enough without a winch bar. But it’s not the right tool for winding straps no longer in use. A winch bar is just too inefficient for this sort of thing.

Winding by Hand?

Your second option is to wind the straps by hand. You place your hand over the reel and rotate it while you guide the strap with the other hand. This gets old really fast. A lot of drivers will only do this for so long before grabbing a screwdriver and sticking it through the pinhole in the winch axle. The screwdriver solution certainly works, but it’s not a whole lot better than using a winch bar.

Detaching and Rolling?

There are some truck drivers who don’t like to leave their straps attached to winches when not in use. They prefer to detach the straps, roll them up, and store them in their toolboxes. This is obviously an option if you don’t want to leave your straps exposed to the weather and driving conditions. But once again, it is terribly inefficient.

Detaching straps and rolling them manually takes time you just don’t have. Furthermore, there’s no need to worry about the straps being exposed to weather and the elements. They will do just fine. You are still better off keeping your straps attached to your winches and winding them up when not in use.

Ratchet Straps Instead?

Lastly, there are some truck drivers who do not use winches on their trailers at all. Instead, they use ratchet straps run through the rails. Yes, it works. No, it is not the best option. This sort of arrangement requires a lot more manual labor than you really want to expend on cargo control. It’s a good option only if your flatbed work is limited and you’re not using a trailer for which you have permission to install winches.

At the end of the day the winch is still the most efficient way to use webbing straps as a way to control cargo. And as long as you’re using winches, you might as well wind your straps and store them in place. A winch winder makes winding a snap. Just attach the handle, crank it for a minute, and you’re all done. You can wind all of your straps in less time than it takes to get a cup of coffee.