Here is the fact about truck tie down , they probably are talking about totally different things depends on the context, for instance, ratchet straps for truck are definitely 2” and ten thousand lbs tie down while ratchets for pick up will be 1” and 500 lbs tie down, we’re only going to discuss about truck tie downs here, more specifically, we are going to talk about flat bed truck this time, because we can see those tie downs on the highway.

So many different loads can be put on flat beds, the choice of tie downs will be really complicated, they will need quite some different tie down devices to get the job done, such as e track straps for box truck . When it comes to flatbeds , the first thing comes up will be the truck winches, you can see those flatbeds with truck winches at one side on the highway all the time, with those winches it’s easy for the driver to tie down loads with just winch straps with the help of winch bar .

Traditionally truck winch and winch straps are most popular tie down devices for flat beds . When you work with truck winches and winch straps, there is one thing you can’t live without: winch bar, these steel bars are essential for your job, so get one if you don’t already have one.

Of course we just can’t leave out the most used trailer strap for transportation businesses, ratchet strap. What we call ratchet straps are actually assemblies, the ratchet buckles with short straps, one foot or longer, and the long straps, 6 feet or longer.

Ratchet strap is most popular trucking accessories due to their flexibility , you can put them almost anywhere when it’s applicable. With flat hooks, wire hooks, cloth loops, chain anchors, even endless, ratchets just can’t have enough variety, how can we don’t love these ratchets? Width of the ratchets measured from 1” to 4” and the length can be anything from inches to more than 50 feet, the ratcheting mechanism really has it’s advantage. The reason we say that ratchet straps are most popular tie down devices for most trucks can be found in this paragraph, even for flatbeds which use winch straps massively may find ratchet straps attractive if there are no winches installed on the truck.

In order to buy these tie down straps, you have the choice between local stores and online retailers. Depends on different situation , sometimes acquire them in local store is a pretty good idea , sometimes online options are much better. Nowadays there are a lot of forums, blogs and online opinion sites out there, you just need to read some reviews, customer feed backs to figure out the product and service quality of the vendors, there is no need to take chances.

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In the world of webbing tie downs for commercial trucks , the ratchet strap and winch strap are playing a huge role in securing truck load, cargo strap can be used inside the box trucks and on the flat beds , while winch tie downs almost in all cases are being deployed with truck winches on flatbed only . As we all know truck tie downs are much more than just ratchet straps and winch straps , for instance there are grade 70 chains , load binders, logistic strap , etc.

We’re not going to talk about regular tie downs but the reflective straps which have reflective strips on the webbing , in dark environment the reflective strips can be seen from far away , this sounds like a nice feature, is it? When it comes to safety, even 1 or 2 percent reduction of risk of collision should encourage people to get the reflective ratchet straps. Due the reflective tie downs are relatively new on the market, we don’t have much proof of safety benefits, though we can understand that if people can easily see the straps on the truck in low light, the probability of collision will be reduced.

Now compare the price of regular tie down to reflective tie down, get online you will find a lot of interesting information, a simple search tells us that the reflective ones are about 10% more expensive then non reflective ones, tie down straps are usually sold at $10-$12, reflectives will increase the price by $1 to $2 , IMHO it should be more expensive, spend extra 10 dollars or more to get 10 reflective tie downs is not bad, these straps will last more than a few months, the conservative estimation will be at lease 6 months, you almost spend nothing to get the security feature offered by reflective tie downs! If its me I will go all the way for the reflective straps.

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We all know that when assemble tie down strap and ratchets together we get ratchet strap, when the ratchet buckle is replaced by cam buckle then you get the cam buckle straps. Cam buckle tie downs are only for light duty use, and 2” cam buckles are the biggest size we will see in the real world use, and it’s still light duty. Compare to cam buckle the ratchets are stronger and more widely used, the available sizes of ratchets are 1”,2”,3” and 4”, and the ratchet buckle generally has higher working load limit than the  cam buckle, they have working load limit of 3,333lbs, 5,400lbs and 5,400lbs respectively, these assemblies have design factor of 3:1, thus the minimum breaking strength is 10,000lbs, 16,200lbs and 16,200lbs respectively.

So far we talked about tie down devices for flatbed trucks or similar commercial vehicles, in reality semi trailers are much more than flatbeds in numbers, since they are box trucks the tie down needs are different, you will see most semi trailers have E Track installed and use logistic strap . It is estimated that 80% trucks are box trucks, and the e track tie down system is just for box trucks , so logistic straps are most popular tie down straps. With 1,000lbs safe load  limit and 3,000lbs minimum breaking strength, e track tie downs are not as strong as flatbed tie down straps, It’s understandable that e track straps have lower working load limit, because the box truck wall will provide strong support for the loads inside, and the truck wall will prevent the loads from falling off, rolling over, tilting and some other dangerous movements. With the help of e track cargo bar, rope tie off and some other e track tie downs and accessories, it’s pretty easy to secure loads inside the box trucks, but easy doesn’t mean not important, you still have to look out for any risks may present in the process of transportation, so secure your loads as reliable as you can, use the right tie down equipment for your job.

In first paragraph we talked about design factor of ratchet tie downs, which is 3:1, so the working load limit is 1/3 of maximum breaking strength for ratchet straps, in the mean time the design factor of grade 70 tie down chains is 4:1, so the chains can support heavier load, and are more resistance to abuse, such as high/low temperature, moisture, while tie down straps usually only work well under normal condition. The standard material of which tie down webbing is made is nylon webbing or polyester webbing, depends on different tie down applications. The typical application for nylon webbing is motorcycle tie down, while polyester webbing is ideal for tying down concrete pipes. Elongation, tensile strength, abrasion and environment, these have to be taken into consideration when making tie down strap. There are mandated criteria for breaking strength and elongation of the tie down straps , while the abrasion and environment are mostly estimation and subjective sometimes, different area may have different requirements. Therefore the manufacturer may have to make these tie downs to different standards.

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When it comes to tie downs, you have to bear in your mind that there are totally different things, there are different kind of trucks, box truck, pickup truck, flatbeds, etc., they use similar or different tie downs, even for same kind of trucks, people probably will use totally different tie downs, say e track straps or plain ratchet straps for box trucks, so try to talk about generic tie downs is not a good idea, to make things simple, I’m sure you’ve already seen flatbed tie downs on the road, we will only talk about flat beds for the time being.

When the jobs come your way, chances are you are not going to decide what kind of stuff will be put on your truck, the only thing you can do is to prepare for all the options , it’s almost always not for you to decide what cargo will be on your truck. When it comes to flatbed truck , the first thing comes up will be the truck winches, you can see those flatbeds with truck winches at one side on the highway all the time, with those winches it’s easy for the driver to tie down loads with just winch straps with the help of winch bar .

Traditionally portable winch and winch straps are most popular tie down devices for flat beds . There is one thing indispensable for truck winch and winch strap tie down combination, winch bar, which is the tool to help you tie down the cargo on the flatbed, since you can only tighten the winch straps through turning winch barrel, this only can be done by making use of winch bars.

Some flat beds come with weld on winches installed, not all trailers have winches installed. Winch straps with winches on the flatbed can be used to secure pallets, machinery, steel coils, concrete pipes etc., with 5400lbs working load limit and the protection of plastic corner protectors these winch straps can tie down almost anything threw at them. Winch straps usually come with flat hooks, because we usually hook the straps on the edge of the trailer, of course the wire hook can be used too. There are 2” and 4” winches and 2” and 4” winch straps , depends on different needs , the length of strap can be 20′, 25′, 27′, 30′, 35′, 40′ or more than 50′ .

Now let’s talk about ratchet strap, which are the most popular tie downs. Actually the ratchet straps are just the assembly of ratchet buckles and tie down webbing, which can be nylon or polyester, the combination of different ratchet buckles and different straps gives us many choices.

Ratchet strap is most popular tie down equipment because of their adaptability , you can use them almost anywhere when it’s applicable. The ending comes with quite some varieties, flat hooks, wire hooks , chain anchor , snap hooks, endless and more. And it’s width can be 1” through 4”, length can be a few inches to more than 50′ . On commercial trucks ratchet tie downs are the most popular tie down devices for shippers , those flat bed trucks without winches installed will find ratchet straps pretty useful .

Before you get out or get online to buy these tie down straps , you will have to know how to get most out of them with less money , first thing to consider is the quality of the straps, maybe you know the local store stuff quality, when talking about websites you have to figure out by reading other people’s the reviews, trucking blogs, such as running tire , customer feed backs, or use alternate methods to make sure if the products and service are good or not.

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The ratchet straps are just the assemblies of ratchet buckle and tie down webbing, but if we use cam buckle in place of ratchet buckle in the assembly we have cam buckle tie down, it’s as simple as that. Cam buckle tie downs are only for light duty use, and 2” cam buckles are the biggest size we will see in the real world use, and it’s still light duty. Unlike cam buckle, ratchet buckle are much stronger, and 2”,3” and 4” ratchet buckles are used in industrial grade applications, such as heavy duty transportation, the typical working load limit for 2” tie downs is 3,333lbs, for 3” and 4” which is 5,400lbs, since these tie downs have design factor of 3:1, the minimum breaking strength is 10,000lbs and 16,200lbs.

Of course what we discussed above is mainly for flatbed trucks and some other kind of vehicles, in reality semi trailers are much more than flatbeds in numbers, since they are box trucks the tie down needs are different, you will see most box trucks have E Track installed and use logistic tie downs . It is estimated that 80% trucks are box trucks, and the e track tie down system is just for semi trailers , so e track straps are most popular tie down straps. And these straps are not as strong as the one we use on flatbed truck, the working load limit of typical e track straps is 1,000lbs, with minimum breaking strength of 3,000lbs. It’s easy to understand that why e track straps are not as strong as regular ratchet tie down straps, inside the box truck the loads already have strong support, at least there is no risk of falling off, all the e track straps will do is to fixate the loads more than tie them down. You also have e track cargo bar, shoring beam, e track tie off, etc. at your disposal, with e track tie down straps you will be able to secure any kind of cargo , make the transportation experience as it should be , but remember that you can never be more careful when it comes to your precious truck and load , make sure your cargo are tied down properly all the time.

We already discussed the design factor of ratchet straps, it is 3:1 and for the record all this says is that safe load limit of tie down straps is 1/3 of it’s breaking strength, while grade 70 transport chains which have a design factor of 4:1, that means the transport chains will work in more tough environment than tie down straps, which usually are chose for regular loads. The standard material of which tie down webbing is made is nylon webbing or polyester webbing, depends on different tie down applications. Nylon webbing has better elongation than polyester, so for shock absorption wise nylon is ideal material while polyester usually is used to make tie downs for heavy equipment. Elongation, tensile strength, abrasion and environment, these have to be taken into consideration when making tie down strap. Breaking strength has to reach the recommendation level no matter what, and elongation has to meet the requirement, abrasion and environment sometimes are not that clear cut, when designing tie downs we may have to consider the most extreme conditions these tie down straps may be in, or we may just consider the normal transportation environment.

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Truck tie down means a lot different stuff to different people, we will focus on big rig tie downs in our discussion, specifically, we are going to talk about flat bed truck this time.

People can and will put all kinds of different loads on their flat beds, or they have no choice some times, they will need all kinds of different tie downs to get the job done .

Talking about flat bed trucks, quite some of the flat beds come with winches installed, or you can install by yourself at a later time, then you can use winch strap to do the job .

Portable winch and winch strap are most popular tie down devices for flat beds .

Some flat beds come with winches installed, not all trailers have winches installed . When the flat bed have the winches installed, we can use winch tie down straps to tie down loads on the flat bed , usually we tie down steel coils, concrete pipes, skids, anything that not too heavy for the 5400lbs working load limit . Winch straps usually come with flat hooks, since we usually hook the straps on the edge of the trailer , of course the wire hook can be used too. We can find 2” and 4” truck winches and 2” and 4” winch straps , depends on different situation , the length of strap can be 20′, 25′, 27′, 30′, 35′, 40′ or more than 50′ .

Of course we just can’t leave out the most used tie down device, ratchet strap .

Ratchet tie down is most popular tie down equipment because of their flexibility , you can put them almost anywhere when it’s applicable. The ending comes with quite some varieties, flat hooks, wire hooks , chain anchor , snap hooks, endless and more. And it’s width can be 1” through 4”, length can be a few inches to more than 50′ . On big rigs ratchet tie downs are the best tie down devices for shippers , those trailers without winches installed will look at ratchet straps seriously .

Before you go out or go online to get these tie down straps, you will have to know how to get most out of them with less spending, first thing to consider is the quality of the straps, maybe you know the local store stuff quality, but for online stores you need to find out by read other people’s the reviews, trucking blogs, customer feed backs, or some other venues to determine if the products and service are good or not.

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The  assembly of ratchet buckle and nylon or polyester webbing is the ratchet straps. Usually people use nylon or polyester webbing to make the straps  , the safe load limit can range from less than 100lbs to more than 1000lbs , the width can range from 1” to 4” , usually we can see hooks, loops or chain extension at both ends of the assembly .

The ratchet buckle is primary made of steel, some buckles have plastic handles, some have aluminum handles, and there is one kind of buckle called one piece ratchet buckle, the handle is steel . Following link is the diagram of long wide handle ratchet : Ratchet Drawing .

Both nylon and polyester webbing are used to make the straps, but they have different characteristics, for shock absorption, we need nylon webbing and for tie down bulk loads we need polyester webbing straps, nylon webbing has better elongation than polyester while polyester webbing are stronger than nylon ones, in real world applications we need varieties, that is to say we need both nylon and polyester webbing  straps for different needs .

Webbing can also be coated with suitable materials that will change desirable characteristics, such as abrasion resistance, sealing to prevent penetration of foreign particles and matter, increased(or decreased) coefficient of friction, ultra-violet light resistance .

And the quality of the straps is the critical characteristic, to use these straps properly and safely is a must . Now how to find these straps with quality and low price? Usually your local dealer will have quite some varieties of straps, and the quality probably is OK but the price will be somewhat high . Actually there is a better way to acquire these straps, you guessed it, online stores are probably the best place to find wonderful deals, not most of the time but you will always find what you need, maybe not exactly but it will be close .

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Ratchet Strap Deals

On March 31, 2010, in Business and Open Source, by admin

Ratchet straps are popular tie down devices in trucking business, they come in a lot of varieties, width ranges from 1” to 4”, breaking strength can be 20,000lbs, like this 4” ratchet strap,  or less than 2,500lbs, like this  1” ratchet strap, of course the length can be anyone’s choice.

And these ratchet straps can be used to tie down so many things that it’s almost amazing. You can tie down the billboard with 1” ratchet straps, you can tie down vehicles with 2” ratchet straps, and you can tie down something special with 4” ratchet straps, and much more.

Since ratchet straps can be used virtually anywhere, and to use these straps are relatively easy, the market for these straps are quite big. There are a lot of places selling these straps, usually you can find 1” ratchet straps at almost any retail chains,  2” ratchet straps at specialty stores. But there is a better way to buy these straps, yes, buy them online can save you quite a bit most of the time.

It’s easy to shop online nowadays, just search through google or some other search engines you can find those online stores in a minute, usually place an order online only take 5-10 minutes, trip to a specialty store may take you more than a few hours of time plus all the costs(such as local sales tax) associated with it. Then there is shipping charge, I know the shipping sometimes can be discouraging, 2” ratchet straps assemblies can be pretty heavy if you buy more than a few. Actually you can buy these straps without paying a dime of shipping, just search “ratchet straps free shipping”, you will be able to find that www.mfrexpress.com actually offers free shipping on orders $25 or more, and this offer is good for all products listed on their website, including the binder chains.

But the deal doesn’t stop here, when you buy single ratchet strap assembly, you will have to pay higher price because there are shipping involved, even you qualify for free shipping, say you buy 2 or 3 ratchet straps, you will pay 2 or 3 tines of the single strap price, but they have boxed deal available, 2″ ratchet straps come in 10 in a box, if you buy a box of the straps, you pay almost 20% less and still get free shipping! Look at this 2″x27′ ratchet tie down straps w/ wire hook, it’s price tag is $14.99, 10 of these costs $114.99, it’s a 23% saving over single strap price! And you have  free shipping too! It’s quite amazing they can offer this free shipping thing, when you consider shipping cost are on the rise(Fedex and UPS all hiked their rates recently), this means more savings for our shoppers.

When I looked around, there are not too many online places offer free shipping on heavy items like load binders, ratchet strap assemblies, not to mention the qualification is mere $25 or more for free shipping, maybe they are the only place which offers free shipping on whole line of cargo control products.

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When your load hit the road, you always have to secure the load in the first place, otherwise there will be dire consequences, be it stopped by police or the load got loose, punitive actions will be asserted. According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Cargo Securement Rules, “The intent of the new requirements is to reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting on or within, or falling from, commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce, and to harmonize to the greatest extent practicable U.S., Canadian, and Mexican cargo securement regulations.”, all motor carriers have to use tie down devices to secure their load to prevent load from causing accidents on the road.

The basic assumption of FMCSA rules are:

  1. 0.8 g deceleration in the forward direction;
  2. 0.5 g acceleration in the rearward direction; and
  3. 0.5 g acceleration in a lateral direction.

The rules are very specific on different kind of loads and cargo securement devices, all drivers have to follow the rules to secure their loads, or suffer the consequence, it’s very clear in the text and in practice, it’s the LAW, we have to follow it, for our own and other people’s safety. But in IT world, the safety rules are largely ignored.

Have a look at recent incidents, “Norfolk Computers Melt Down”, “Broad New Hacking Detected”, the Norfolk, Va incident is classical case of malware strike, of course, all machines infected are running MS Windows, the most insecure OS ever built by human being, and it will continue be the culprit on the Internet. The second incident is a hacking through IE security hole which exists in all version of IE on MS Windows, when carefully crafted malicious web page visited by IE the machine on which IE is running will be controlled by the crackers,  all security measures are off if the machine is inside the company firewall, now the crackers gain access to company network through compromised machine. These two incidents have the exact same security hole, the MS Windows, and we hear and see these kind of security breach all the time on MS platform, yet no one seems to care.

Of course there is no FMCSA equivalent in IT world, if we have such an organization make strict security rules for using computers to access information high way(Internet), and people who use insecure products will be prosecuted if they caused damages to other people(such as propagate malware/virus), the Internet probably will be a much safer place to go. Being a responsible person, I believe we can do what we can do improve the situation, the first thing to do is to learn the basic safety rules of using a computer to access Internet, if you’re running Windows, you have to install all kinds of anti malware/virus tools, and most of times you may have to pay for these services, if you don’t how to do that you can consult Windows expert about this security thingy. Of course as long as you’re running MS Windows, you’re in danger of being compromised or already compromised but you don’t know it, ever wonder where are those spams come from? Not only MS platform, all closed applications have the same vulnerability, which is “CLOSED”, so no outsider can look into the code to spot the problem, the closed entity always has limited resource to seek and fix most the bugs.

What can we do now? Since being “CLOSED” always brings problems, “OPEN” comes to rescue. Being “OPEN” means being watched by the world, not selected a few, this way the problems will be spotted as soon as possible and the fix will be prompt, just the way we see in the Open Source world. I am not going into details here, just judge from our own experience. In 9 years we don’t have one security incident, no malware, no virus, no security breach, no mysterious system problems, we even have a few destops from 2000 which are still working great, how is this possible, you ask? It’s actually very simple, we only use free(as in speech) and open(as in source code) software on our computers, the OS is GNU/Linux, we’re running a few different flavors of Linux, U/ Kubutu, Fedora, CentOS,  etc., we’re really happy with what we can do and what we can get with system we choose, most important is the peace of mind, you know those mysterious security breaches won’t happen to your system is priceless.

Here at www.mfrexpress.com we take our own and people’s safety very serious, we only sell high quality tie down products, and we ony run secure systems on our hardware, we want to protect both ourselves and customers from being harmed by bad products, both in IT and Trucking area.

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Trucking and Open Source

On January 28, 2010, in Business and Open Source, by admin

You’d ask why trucking has anything to do with open source, particularly GNU/Linux?

Let’s see how does this Linux thing can help you lower your operation cost while  keep or even improve your service.

First, there is no exorbitant license fee to pay. You can download the Gnu/Linux distributions off the Internet,  or buy installation CD/DVD at shipping cost, you can install the system by yourself of someone knows Linux in your organization or follow online  help step by step, you will have GNU/Linux up and running in no time nowadays.

Then you have old hardware which is not capable of handling the latest Windows OS, you probably will have to buy new hardware just to run Windows, now you can keep using these old buddies for quite some time with GNU/Linux, because Linux can handle low end machines very well, just go online to see how to do it.

Now you have  system installed, applications are running, what next? Say you need accounting software, well, LedgerSMB is all you need. What about eCommerce? Zen Cart or Magento will do the magic. Gimp will help you to retouch your digital pictures, personal or business. You can surf the net safely with Firefox. These are just some of the great things I can think of right now, you will find there are a lot more interesting things you can do with Linux.

OK, you ask, what about those malware, virus,  spyware? Actually this is the strongest point of using Linux, as long as you don’t login as root to run your desktop, you are safe from most malware, spyware and virus.

All the benefits above, exactly what is there for Trucking business?

An important part of trucking business is hauling loads, before you go on your trip you need to make sure your load is safe, you need tie downs to secure your load, most of these tie down products are pretty heavy, especially transport chains, a few chains can weigh more than 150lbs, you can buy them locally, usually with high price, then you can buy them cheaper online, but the shipping charge sometimes can be prohibitive. Now let’s have a look at one online cargo control products store, www.mfrexpress.com, they are selling all kind of tie downs on their website, heavy duty chains, ratchet straps, cargo bars, truck winch and winch straps, etc., this may not be that special because a lot people are selling these stuff online, hat makes them special is that they offer free shipping on orders $25 or more,meanwhile they offer nice quality cargo control products at lower price than most online retailers, these two things together you have a really nice deal.

Now the question is how can they do that without being broke? Since the shipping charge is pretty hefty especially for binder chains and load binders, they will have to lower their operation cost quite a bit, this is where Linux, Open Source come into play. They run their office on all open source software, from OS to applications, from web server to email server, fax server, all based on Linux. Their desktop machines are from 2002/3 and still going strong under the command of Linux, their servers are all bought on EBA lately and running nonstop already for more than 3 years, they have their own email, fax, web and VoIP server, all of these greatly reduced the maintenance cost and ongoing security cost, for 6 years they haven’t needed any major spending on hardware or software, no malware/spyware/virus whatsoever, almost no down time except serious power black out.

In a weak economy, cutting cost often times means cutting corners, but with open source you can lower operation cost but not lower your standard.

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