More from: webbing straps

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.


3 Reasons to Use Edge Protectors with Parachute Tarps

The ripstop nylon fabric used to make parachutes is a great material for truck tarps. It is just amazing that it took so long for tarp manufacturers to figure it out. But that’s a different topic for a different post. We want to use this post to discuss the necessity of using edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps.

Since parachute fabric is quite durable, there is a tendency to treat it differently. Smart truck drivers know their parachute fabric tarps need just as much care as their vinyl counterparts. As such, the proper care of parachute fabric includes using edge protectors whenever necessary.

Here are three reasons to use edge protectors despite the extra strength and durability of ripstop nylon fabric:

1. Ripstop Does Not Mean Rip Proof

One of the distinguishing characteristics of parachute fabric is that it is classified as ripstop fabric. Whether a parachute is made of nylon, canvas, or some other material, its ripstop designation comes from its cross-weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing. The last thing you would want as you are falling through the sky is to have a small rip become a huge, gaping hole.

The thing to understand here is that ripstop fabric is not rip proof. If you are not sure that this is true, get yourself a piece of scrap material, lay it on top of a cardboard box, and see if you can put your utility knife through the center of it. Trust us when we say you’ll succeed.

The point we are trying to illustrate here is that using edge protectors with parachute tarps still helps prevent rips and tears that could occur when tarp material comes in contact with sharp edges. The possibility of such rips and tears isn’t diminished simply because a tarp is made of parachute fabric.

2. Fragile Cargo is Still Fragile

Sometimes truckers are forced to use edge protectors in order to protect the cargo underneath their tarps. In other words, you do not want fragile pieces of cargo rattling around and bumping into one another. So you secure each piece as tightly as you can and then use edge protectors as an extra insurance policy.

Choosing parachute fabric tarps over regular nylon has no effect on the tendency of cargo to rattle around. So use edge protectors to keep individual pieces from damage during transit. Your customers will be happy on the other end.

3. Webbing Straps are Still Vulnerable

Another important reason for using edge protectors with standard vinyl tarps is the fact that sharp edges can wear away webbing strap material – even if said edges actually pierce the tarp material. This is an even bigger problem when you are dealing with parachute fabric, given that it is lighter and thinner than standard vinyl.

Wherever there is likely to be friction between webbing straps and cargo, you should consider using an edge protector – even if there’s tarp material between cargo and strap. An edge protector mitigates friction and reduces the likelihood of a strap being cut. As an added bonus, the edge protector will also help keep your tarp in place to some extent.

As you can see, truck tarps made of parachute fabric are not perfect or indestructible. They certainly do have some benefits over traditional vinyl tarps in terms of weight and durability, but they are prone to the same kinds of things that damage vinyl tarps. So do yourself a favor and protect your investment. Use edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps in the same way you would with canvas or vinyl.


Acknowledging Tow Operators Who Know Their Business

Not too long ago we published a post detailing the adventures of two people who didn’t know how to use their truck loading ramps correctly. We have also published other posts which discussed tow truck fails brought on by inadequate understanding of standard operating procedures. Those kinds of stories are always a reminder of how much we appreciate tow operators who really understand their profession and work hard to be good at it.

Towing isn’t as simple as attaching a hook to a car and driving away. There is so much more to it than that. Tow operators have to consider everything from the vehicle being recovered to the kind of recovery being undertaken. They must decide whether to use webbing straps or towing chains; whether to make use of a hook truck or a flatbed; and whether it is really safe to secure a recovery vehicle using just tire nets.

None of what we just described even touches the most complex recovery jobs. As an example, consider a recovery this past summer (2018) out of Phillipsburg, New Jersey. It required not only savvy tow operators with knowledge and experience, it also required the right tools and equipment.

Sinking Heavy Equipment

June 22 was the day a local Phillipsburg towing company was called to Heckman and Marshall streets around early in the morning. Apparently, a Case digger was preparing the site for future utility work. While the operator was busy digging a trench for utility workers, the pavement under the left side of the machine gave way. The digger fell into the resulting hole. Half of it ended up in the hole while the other half remained outside, perched at roughly a 30° angle.

Making matters worse was the fact that the digger was resting right on top of a gas line. Tow operators called to the scene had to figure out how to get the machine out of the hole without allowing it to slip. One slip could have severed the gas line and caused a major problem.

An Hour of Touch-and-Go

As you can imagine, it was impossible for the tow truck operators to just hook up a chain and drag the digger to safety. First of all, the machine was too heavy for that sort of thing. Second, it had to be lifted straight up in order to protect the gas line underneath. Trying to drag the digger would have probably ruptured the line and further weakened the surrounding pavement.

It took a team of two tow operators about an hour to come up with a plan and then successfully execute it. It was an hour of touch-and-go. In the end, they used a combination of two boom trucks equipped with heavy towing chains to slowly lift the digger out of the hole.

The two trucks were positioned on the opposite side of the street, front to back. Their booms were extended out over the digger so as to transfer all its weight to the stronger pavement. Then the two operators used remote control devices to slowly pick the machine up. They had to synchronize their movements to keep everything steady.

It is fortunate that the operators were very experienced, had good judgement and also had the right tools at their disposal to handle what was a very dangerous job. We are guessing they weren’t using cheap towing chains and hooks on something so heavy. Incidents of this kind are a reminder of how important is it be a good tow operator.


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.

 


Cargo Control and Physics: Beware of the Force

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) revised its long-standing cargo control regulations for commercial motor vehicles back in 2004. Since then, the rules have remained largely unchanged. They account for all types of trucks including flatbeds, refers, tankers, and even dry goods vans.

In short, truck drivers are required to properly secure their cargo prior to transport. Nothing can be allowed to move, let alone become dislodged and fall off a trailer. Dry van and reefer operators have less of a challenge given that their cargo is enclosed on all sides. Flatbed operators do not have that luxury. They have to secure their cargo by tying it down to the trailer bed.

In light of that, truckers with the best cargo control skills are the ones that understand physics. They understand the four forces that cargo is subject to during transport. They account for each of those forces by blocking and tying down cargo in specific ways.

The four forces are:

Forward force – experienced during braking
Rearward force – experienced during acceleration
Sideways force – experienced when making turns
Upward force – experienced when hitting bumps or on rough road.

The biggest of these four forces is forward force. This goes without saying. It is the greatest force because it is exerted as a result of cargo continuing to want to move forward even as the vehicle is decelerating. Forward force is a combination of kinetic energy, the weight of the cargo, and the vehicle’s rate of deceleration.

Tools for Overcoming Force

The revamping of FMCSA rules included some new rules for tie-downs, blocks, and other cargo control equipment. Though we will not go through the details here, it is sufficient to say that the government made it clear that they expect truck drivers to use the right kinds of tools to keep cargo in place. The rules specifically mention:

Bulkheads – Bulkheads are sometimes referred to as headboards or front-end structures. They are generally attached to the front of a flatbed trailer and used to block cargo from moving forward. Bulkheads are not required by law.

Webbing Straps – Webbing straps are used to tie down cargo when heavier chains are not required. They are made with synthetic materials that offer maximum control with a low weight cost.

Other Equipment – The rules go on to address chains, wire rope, steel straps, blocks, shackles, winches, and more. Fortunately for truck drivers, the rules do not stipulate how each of these different things have to be used to secure cargo. The rules only talk about the cumulative effect of choosing the right equipment.

It is interesting to note that the rules also draw a distinction between securing devices and tie-downs. Obviously, a chain qualifies as both. But while all tie-downs are also securing devices, not all securing devices qualify as tie-downs. Therefore, truckers have to make the distinction in their own minds as well.

There are very specific rules relating to the number of tie-downs necessary based on the length and weight of a load. The number of tie-downs is independent of other cargo control equipment, save the bulkhead. Why? Drivers can use fewer tie-downs if a bulkhead prevents cargo from moving forward. On the other hand, blocks do not reduce the number of required tie-downs.

It is All about Physics

We have said multiple times in the past that cargo control is all about physics. If you understand the physics involved, you should understand the four forces that are working hard to dislodge cargo. Keep those forces in check and your cargo will stay in place.