Under wraps: Tarping and tie down systems

by Katy de Vries

TORONTO, Ont. – Safety is a critical part of every operation, and it is a priority of the trucking industry to look after its number one resource – its drivers.

A critical part of a driver’s day is securing the load. It’s a procedure that is performed routinely but yet must be monitored closely because there is a great deal riding on doing it right.

Manufacturers and entrepreneurs have this, among other crucial aspects, to contend with when developing cargo control products.

Joe McDaid, operations manager for Northern Star Cartage and inventor of the McDaid Binder Lock, says safety was his primary motivation when designing his newly created device.

“With 23 years on the highway, I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of unsafe loads travelling along side of me and many inexperienced drivers maneuvering these loads,” says McDaid, “so I devised this simple way to provide extra insurance that the load is secure.”

McDaid’s product is a small steel lock with a pin that will secure any load binder because it is universal.

It is easily stored and will fit five different locking positions, and it serves an important safety function in that if the chain does loosen, the driver will hear the metal device hitting the binder and will know to tighten the chains.

It saves time, says McDaid, but most importantly, he points out, it saves important insurance claims.

Walco Equipment of Elmira, Ont. is a distributor of cargo control equipment and recently agreed to distribute the McDaid Binder Lock.

“It is simple but very effective,” says John Guichelaar, Walco Equipment manager. “There are no questions asked as to whether that load will let go, it just won’t release, it’s a great safety device.”

The McDaid Binder Lock, the newest product in Walco’s line, will be distributed across North America and is expected to be available in May, 2003.

Cargo control is a part of the industry that is under the watchful eye of the Ministry of Transportation, and there is a pending legislation change for 2004 in regards to cargo restraint and tie downs.

Larry Harrison, general manager for Kinedyne Canada, says the regulations play an important role in the manufacturing process.

“A new regulation may affect a product, it may even require a product to be changed, but it would still be driven by the end user,” says Harrison. “We can’t control how much a product is regulated, or how much it will be embraced by the end user, but we can make sure we offer something that is an end solution to allow less exposure to liability.”

Kinedyne’s Central Canada sales rep, Todd Walker, says one of the challenges in the industry is the trickling down of information from the manufacturers to the end users.

“The information download to the driver is very slow, but it is the driver and company feedback that helps build the product, so it is an important aspect for us,” says Walker.

The new legislation, he says, will begin with the manufacturers building their trailers to comply and it will then be introduced to the end user through product education.

“In fact some manufacturers have already begun to include Kinedyne’s Kaptive Hook Tie-Down system when manufacturing their trailers,” says Walker.

Harrison says one of the pending changes for 2004 is that cargo straps cannot come loose at all, and Kinedyne’s Kaptive Hook system accounts for that with the hook in a pin environment so that even if a strap did come loose the hook cannot be taken off unless it is turned in a certain way.

The strap technology is constantly being refined and features are added that allow for even safer loads.

Kinedyne has designed Rhino Web, a webbing for straps that is 30 per cent more abrasive resistant than its other webbing.

Indication lines have been incorporated into the webbing so that a driver will know when the straps should be taken out of service.

Verduyn Tarps in Hamilton, Ont. also has an edge protector for its two-inch, three- inch and four-inch straps. It is a tougher type of thread that is used on the edges of the strap that will help prevent fraying and stand up better to tears.

“It does make a difference,” says Lloyd Verduyn, owner of Verduyn Tarps.

“We were using the edge protected straps but then switched back to our original straps until customers told us they have used both types of strapping and they wanted the edge protectors back,” says Verduyn.

Tarping systems are becoming popular with drivers, says Verduyn whose Eagle system has recently undergone refinements.

“We have just recently made changes to the front end, where a driver can open it from the ground now keeping their feet on the ground at all times, and we are developing something similar for the back end of the Eagle as well,” says Verduyn.

For Daniel Canning, manager of WE Canning in Laval, Que., safety, speed and ease of use are the three things he focuses on when designing a tarping system.

As extensions to the traditional stake and rack and side curtain systems, Canning has two newer systems to offer that he says have revolutionized the transport market.

The Ta6000 is a retractable system where both tarped sides and the tarped roof retract back to front and front to back.

“It takes about two minutes to open and close, there is an aluminum track and wheels on a skate that slide on the track, and the sides tighten at the end board and head board with a wratchet or a special lock,” says Canning.

He says the second system has taken the Ta6000 and gone even further by incorporating the side curtain technology, which he calls the Must system because it is a must have.

“We want to compete against the van industry with this, it is multifunctional so you can haul almost anything you want,” says Canning.

The Must is virtually the same as the Ta6000 but with a solid frame.

A driver can haul wood from the sides, load LTL boxes from the back, or load steel coils from the top using a crane.

Another variation of the Must system is the Hybrid, says Canning, which is curtaining that can hold up to 40,000 kilograms of chip while the walls stay straight and this will guard against running with an empty trailer.

Meanwhile in Western Canada, Fred Bodecker, owner of Ground Control in Marysville, B.C., has developed the Tarping System 2000, also created to haul chips in a B-train configuration.

“It is a 100 per cent no-climb tarping system, and it can be used in lieu of ladders and walkways,” says Bodecker.

“We are getting better tarp life with it and it provides all the tools a driver needs to open and close the tarps from the ground.”

The Tarping System 2000 is a low maintenance, simple system that is made with flexible pulp safe materials, says Bodecker.

Having hauled chips himself for 20 years, Bodecker says he knows what kind of system drivers are in search of.

He has also designed a mechanized load grooming apparatus that complements the tarp system.

“Both components are ergonomically correct for the driver and easy to use. The two systems work together and eliminate the need for climbing onto a load or any concerns of mechanized load grooming,” Bodecker says.

General manager of Cambridge Canvas, Tony Campbell, has a drive-in service for tarping repairs.

“We keep the tarps in top notch shape so drivers don’t have to be on top of the load fixing something. We want to save them time and keep them safe,” says Campbell.

Campbell says they are always shopping the market for the best material product out there.

“Any material that comes out, we are the first on it to see if it will be good for our tarping needs. We are never at a standstill in that respect,” says Campbell. “Currently we use 18 ounce coated vinyl, and that has treated us well for the 27 years we’ve been in business.”

Till-Fab Inc. of Norwich, Ont. and home of the Roll-Tite system, a customized tarpaulin covering and enclosure system for trailers, has recently begun printing graphics on tarps for customers.

“Our customers come to us with an idea and we do the layout and the printing,” says Graeme Lowry, president of Till-Fab Inc.

“We have done some pretty wild grap
hics on our tarps, especially for show pieces. The customer does it on a napkin and we take it from there, it is a great way to advertise,” he adds.

Lowry, and all fellow companies, can only promise more to come in the cargo control industry.

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