EASY TO USE: Simeon Brubacher volunteered to test the Johny Tie-down system for us. He says it works well, but admits he didn’t use it on every local load.
NAPANEE, Ont. – Once in a while a new invention comes along that will save lives. Last April I noticed the Johny Tiedown booth tucked away in the back building at Truck World.
I’m no expert or anything but I was impressed by their display of straps and pulleys and electronic scales.
Just the fact that it’s made in Canada caught my interest – that’s rare enough these days.
The Johny Tie-down Load Tension Alert Device is a system that allows flatdeck haulers to monitor load security in real-time while rolling down the road.
A sensor sits on the dash and a red light comes on and beeps if any straps equipped with Johny’s become slack en-route.
The heart of the device is a plastic cartridge about the size of a pocketbook that’s threaded through the cable or strap.
After you’ve lashed down your skids or whatever, you swipe each cartridge with a handheld sensor. The sensor then fits into a harness mounted on the dash.
My deck-hauling days are done, but I ran into Simeon Brubacher at the Canadian Tire store in Napanee, Ont., where he was loosening the straps on a load of top soil. He was happy enough to volunteer to try out the product for me.
Johny Tie-down is a family business from Rouyn-Noranda, Que.
They shipped me a demonstration kit which I dropped off one weekend at Brubacher’s farm near Elmira, Ont., where he runs a top-notch deck business with eight late model Petes and Kenworths. Marwell Transport pulls 48-foot flatdecks and Btrains, hauling lumber, soil and pre-cast concrete, among other things. At the end of the summer I went back and got Brubacher’s report.
“They definitely work,” he told me. “I never had a strap come loose, but I can see they work when I loosen off the tension.”
Brubacher does a lot of local work, sometimes drawing three loads a day. So he was honest and told me he wouldn’t use them on every load. “But if you’re running long distance, like California to Ontario, why not?” he said. “If it takes you a half an hour, it’s probably worth it.”
The company literature says that it takes about a minute per Johny per strap.
Programming is fairly easy with only three keys. Once you’re rolling, the Johny Tie-down system would probably mean fewer stops to check load security.
And the system means more peace of mind at night when it’s harder to see if a load is shifting or coming undone.
The cartridges fit over all sizes of straps (2-, 3-or 4-inches) and standard issue steel cables.
Most of the product testing was done on logging trucks in northern Quebec in extreme temperatures. But loggers anywhere could feel more secure attaching a few Johnys to a load. And the cable cartridges would also work well on loads of scrap cars or the like.
So far the originator, Maurice Tardif, hasn’t yet developed a version for chains, but I hear he’s working on it.
The invention is a labour of love dedicated to his son’s memory. Tardif made his first prototype in 2002, not long after his son was killed driving home for the holidays the previous Christmas.
A barrel came loose from a truck and struck Johnathan Tardif’s car.
The company builds the Johnys tough and guarantees them for a year. There’s a YouTube video that shows a truck running over a cartridge without damaging it.
You can also download data from the sensor to a computer which can then be stored and retrieved, documenting any occurences of load insecurity.
Tardif recommends you use Johny Tie-downs on every other strap or cable, but you can get started with a few units for about $1,000.
Carriers hauling high-value or awkward loads might want to add Johny Tie-downs to their repertoire. After all, what price can be put on safety?
Just one catastrophic incident can ruin a good carrier.
Johny Tie-downs could also save you from fines for improperly secured tie-downs, and loss of cargo incidents cost trucking companies millions every year.
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