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One of the most fundamental aspects of truck driving jobs is the ability of the driver to secure a load properly. In fact, trucking companies often have new applicants go through the process of securing and covering a load as a test of skill before they offer the applicant a position with their company. Flatbed trucking involves traveling at high speeds over long distances. If the load is not properly secured and covered, the force of the wind can easily damage or cause the load to come loose. No one wants that.
Before you even begin to consider covering a load, you need to ensure that is arranged correctly. An uneven load is a nightmare to haul. You need to make sure that the weight is distributed as evenly as possible. You should also factor wind-resistance into how you arrange a load. Ideally, everything on the flatbed should be lower than your truck. Your truck is designed to break the wind. Your load is not. High and broad objects can affect how your truck handles at speed and cause the tarp to tear while en route.
Picking the right tarp for the job is the next step. Canvas and polyethylene tarps are perfect for helping a friend move across town, but for long-haul truck driving jobs, they are inadequate at best. You need a heavy-duty tarp to secure a heavy load. You want a heavy-duty vinyl tarp with a weight of at least 18 ounces. These tarps are much stronger than poly tarps and have the extra benefit of being UV resistant. This will come in handy when crossing the sun-scorched deserts of the Southwest. You will also want to check out the ruggedness of the grommets and the stitching. You want the grommets to be able to withstand a lot of force, and the tarp should be at a minimum double stitched along the edges.
When you have the right tarp for the job, it is time to cover your load. Covering your load is the most crucial aspect of flatbed trucking. You want to stretch the cover over the load so that you have an equal amount of tarp on both sides. Once you have the cover in place, secure it with rubber tie downs. Make sure you tuck any excess under before strapping it into place.
Now, you are going to need some wide nylon ratchet straps to secure the load and the tarp to the flatbed. Some trucking companies use flatbeds that incorporate an enhanced ratchet system. If this is the case, you will place the enhanced ratchet system hook over the load, place the metal bar across your nylon straps, and lock the enhanced ratchet system into position.
By properly securing and covering a load, you reduce the chance of any damage to your load. You also increase maneuverability and fuel efficiency at high speeds. Being able to properly secure and cover a load is one of the most valuable trucking skills you can have.