Imagine a fully-loaded truck. Once in transit, road and weather conditions change. If the material used to secure the cargo is not durable or not correctly tied, an accident can occur. For cargo securement, the ratchet strap is the most commonly used among the different tie-downs available. Likewise, knowing how to use them properly is as important as having enough of them.
The importance of cargo securement is not only to protect the load but also the general public. That is why logistics companies need to comply with Standard 10 (Cargo Securement) of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) National Safety Code (NSC) to ensure safety. Ratchet tie-down straps are an indispensable fastening tool that makes it possible to conform to the guidelines.
Using Ratchet Straps
Ratchet straps are tie-down webbings made of polyester fibre material with ends fitted to ratchet hardware. It has been in use for a very long time in the cargo transportation industry – from a pickup truck to a fleet of flatbed trailers. One reason is the ease of use. Another is because it can handle extreme pressure during the transit of cargo.
For small vehicles and private use, an ordinary ratchet strap suffices. That is not the case with logistics companies. They need high-quality tie-down straps that are not only durable but also do not stretch too much to keep the cargo taut.
Using ratchet straps look easy, but there are correct procedures and techniques to follow.
Before purchasing or installing ratchet straps, you should measure the cargo’s weight and dimensions. Based on the measurement, you can determine the quantity, size, and break strength of ratchet straps needed.
Make sure to use ratchet straps that have no tears and burnt marks. Even if you are using the most expensive or durable ratchet strap available on the market, one that has clear signs of damage is bound to fail. Once it loses structural integrity, a single line that snaps puts the entire cargo and the truck – and the general motoring public, too – in danger.
Heat is one of the weaknesses of ratchet straps, even if you are using the best brand in the world. Friction between the sharp edges of the cargo and the ratchet strap will cause damage to the webbing. To avoid possible damage to the ratchet strap, you should place a piece of smooth padding between the sharp edges of the cargo and the ratchet strap itself. You can also pair it with a corner protector.
When you are tying down the cargo with ratchet straps, make sure to thread and tighten them properly. Even if a ratchet strap is brand new, accidents may still happen during transit if you fail to secure the cargo correctly. Make sure the straps are taut before travelling.
How Many Tie-down Straps Are Needed Cargo Securement?
A ratchet strap is usually sold in sets depending on usage. The manufacturer would indicate its break strength, which gives you an idea of how much weight that specific ratchet can hold. The break strength of the ratchet strap means the maximum weight it can hold before it snaps.
Never use ratchet straps with break strength equalling the cargo. Instead, it is better to use the working load limit (WLL) as a basis. The WLL is a value that is a third of the break strength. In essence, you are to use the equivalent of the cargo in break strength multiplied by three.
The size or length of the cargo is also a consideration when tying it down. Having longer or taller loads may entail using heavy-duty ratchet straps with lengths reaching 20 feet or more.
As a customer, you do not have to concern yourself with tie-down straps and how many pieces you need to hold your shipment. A reputable logistics company already knows what they need to protect your cargo per the NSC guidelines.
If you recently bought a truck or a trailer, it would be best for you to have someone with expertise in loading shipments. Otherwise, these are among the things you need to learn beforehand.
Here is an overview of what you need to follow:
- The total WLL of all the ratchet straps should be at least half of the cargo’s total weight being loaded and secured.
- Getting the combined or aggregate WLL of all the ratchet straps will depend on where they will be attached to:
- If the ratchet straps are attached to anchor points on the vehicle or platform carrying the cargo, you can add each of the WLL of the straps.
- Suppose the ratchet straps are attached to an anchor point on the vehicle, with other ends attached to an anchor point on the cargo. In that case, you should add 50% of the WLL of each end section of the ratchet straps attached to an anchor point to 50% of the WLL of each end section attached to the shipment/cargo.
- The number of ratchet straps to use in securing the load are:
- If the cargo is 4.9’ or shorter and 500 kg or lesser, at least one ratchet strap is enough to fasten the load securely.
- For cargo between 5’ to 9’ and weighs more than 500 kg, at least two ratchet straps can safely hold the shipment.
- Add another ratchet strap for every additional 9’ in length or fraction exceeded by the cargo.
- If the total cargo weight exceeds 4,000 kg, you should use at least four ratchet straps to tie it down.
Related article: What are the Basic Rules for Cargo Securement?
Choosing a Logistics Company
Being able to quickly and safely deliver cargo is the goal for any shipping company. Having supporting tools for cargo securement is crucial in the industry. You should make sure that you are dealing with a shipping company that uses high-quality products to do its job. A ratchet strap or any other tie-down that is not properly maintained may be dangerous.
When choosing a company to deliver your goods, it is an excellent idea to pay a visit. Even if you cannot do that, you can still observe how their staff works when they pick up goods from your warehouse. Once they begin tieing down, pay attention to the condition of the ratchet straps. Their condition should tell you of the level of service they provide. At any rate, if there are visible signs of damage, you can insist on having them replaced before allowing the trailer to leave with your goods.
Here at Toronto Trailers, we regularly check our tools and equipment for any damages that may cause them to lose integrity. We will never put your cargo in danger at any given time by scrimping or being careless in securing your precious cargo. You can contact us at 416 477 5488 so that our team of experts can address any shipping concerns at the soonest possible time.