The Strapping Good Times Of Flatbeds

The strap of choice for flatbed operations is 4 inches wide X 30 foot long. The straps come in different colors. Usually they are yellow, but blue, red, green, and orange are also common. Straps are made of polyester webbing and hold up to all environments. They can withstand heat, cold, rain, and prolonged exposure to dry weather. They can be rolled up into a tight roll when not in use and stored for years without breaking down. Most flatbed operators will carry enough straps to secure the entire loaded trailer. The usual amount of straps needed is 14, but it is wise to carry at least 18 straps just in case one breaks, is damaged, or the load requires more securement.
The straps have several different types of anchors. The anchor is how the strap attaches to the trailer or the load. The most popular type of anchor that a strap has is called a flat hook.

The second most popular is the chain anchor strap. The chain anchor is the strap of choice for me. It allows for angled movement and provides better stability where the anchor attaches to the trailer. They also have better resistance to being damaged during an accident because of how they wrap around the trailer tie down point.

Straps are the preferred method of load securement for many types of loads, from pallets to jet engines. They are used on average more than chains and more than wire rope. Their main benefits are lightness of weight, ease of use, and amount of working load limit they are rated for. Their main drawbacks are that they are easily damaged by sharp objects, they stretch, they will expand and contract depending on the environment they are used in, they are flammable, and lastly they do break easier than chains. All in all, I prefer chains to straps, but straps get the job done more times than chains are able to.

Straps, Chains, Ropes, And Bungees

The most recognized tools for load securement are straps and chains.  Most chains are about 20 feet long and most straps are about 30 feet long.

The working load limit (WLL) of each strap is printed on either a tag stitched to the strap or on the strap itself.  If the WLL is only printed on the strap, then care should be taken to protect the tag.  One method that always works is to use clear duct tape wrapped around the tag and then wrapped around the strap itself where the tag is stitched.

This tape will protect the tag for years and years against all elements that it will normally face.  The tag will protect you in the event that your load is inspected for CSA violations.

Chains should have the grade of chain stamped on the links and the hook on the end of the chain.  Your securement is only as good as the weakest link in the system.

Ropes are used to tie down tarps along with bungees.  There are many different ways to use the ropes, bungees, tarps, straps, and chains.  They are too numerous to list in this post, but in time, most of them will be detailed here.


Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBR) are in the spotlight again.  Recently the FMCSA has added their EOBR mandate to the highway bill which passed the vote.

Next the Landry-Rahall amendment stopped funding that the FMCSA would need to make the EOBR a reality.  This was voted for by Congress.  A great thanks to the Congress for making this happen.

Now the vote is going to the Senate.  Historically this has passed in the Senate.  If you are an Owner Operator and you care at all about your privacy, this EOBR mandate is going to change your life.

The EOBR will track your position and you must tell it what you are doing at all times.

Call your Senators and tell them to vote against the EOBR mandate by supporting the Landry-Rahall amendment.

Don't know what to say?  Simple.

"Hello, this is (name here) and I am calling to urge Senator (name here) to support the Landry-Rahall amendment.  Thank you."

Direct Tie Down Versus Indirect Tie Downs

There are two accepted methods for securing a load.  Direct and Indirect.

Shown here is Direct Securement:

Here is an example of Indirect securement with only half WLL:
True Indirect securement for full WLL would show the chain going from one side of the trailer to the other side.

Direct securement is a method where the securement device goes from the trailer to the load.

Indirect is a method where the securement device goes from the trailer, through or over the load and then back to the trailer.

Direct securement reduces the Working Load Limit (WLL) of the securement device by half as it doesn't spread the force of the tie down to the entire tie down.  This method will put the entire load securement of the tie down point the device is tied to onto one tie down point on the trailer. 

Indirect securement allows the entire WLL of the securement device to be used on the tie down point it is tied to, over, or through as long as it goes from one side of the trailer to the other.

Over time there will be pictures on here of different tie down methods as well as explanations as to why those methods were chosen and how they hold up during transit.

Oversized Load 3 Delivered

Although I do check every load everytime during transit for shifting and loose articles, this load never moved and the securement devices never loosened.  The tarps arrived just as they were when I loaded them.  More than 2000 miles away.  Proper securement is essential.

Oversized Load 2

Now the tarps are secured to the trailer.  The front flap is rolled up into itself and the grommets are connected together with the "S" hook of the bungee.
This same technique is used for all front and back extra flap material.

The final result is a tarped and secured load.

The load is completed with 2 oversized load signs and 8 red flags.

Oversized Load 1

An oversized load that was only 9 feet, 4 inches wide.

I started with 4 pieces of wooden dunnage that were 4 X 4 X 8 feet wooden timbers.

Next the freight was placed on top of the dunnage.  I used 2 pieces of dunnage per piece so that the dunnage wouldn't come loose and so that the freight is stable.  Each piece was secured with 2-  5/16 inch chains and 2 - snap binders.  The chains were pushed through the holes in the freight with 10 foot long 1 inch aluminum square tubes.  After the snap binders were secured, they were wrapped with a small twist chain with a snap link attached, then the excess chain was wrapped around the binders.

The next step after placing and securing the freight is to protect the freight from the elements and also to protect the tarps from the freight at the same time.  To start off, I used edge protectors on all sharp edges and then layed felt pads out over the load.

Now the felt pads are unrolled over the entire load to protect the tarps from the sharp edges of the sides of the load.
Now the tarps are unrolled over the entire load, starting with the back tarp and then the front tarp is unrolled over the front tarp.