Ratchet straps go by many names. They are similarly called tie-downs or lashing straps. These straps are used for material handling and are highly dependable when securing cargo during transport.
They mainly provide leverage and thus make cargo easy to ratchet, thus the name. It also allows cargo to be quickly and tightly secured. Ratchet straps are extremely versatile because they can also be used in vans, trailers, flatbeds, and pick up trucks.
Quality ratchet straps possess the following features:
- They are lightweight and strong
- They can be used in various applications
- They are abrasion-resistant
- They allow a minimal stretch
- They are UV-resistant
- They are resistant to common chemicals
- They absorb minimal water and so do not shrink easily. Plus they are free from rot, mould, and mildew
- They last long and is relatively inexpensive
Despite their strength, they need to be appropriately cared for in order to keep them functioning effectively and safely. Though they are considered as dependable straps for cargo securement, any damage a ratchet strap incurs from constant rubbing or exposure to sharp corners could affect its breaking strength and working load limit. The latter could put equipment, cargo, and individuals at risk.
If ratchet straps are properly cared for, they can be used for many years. You will also save money as they need not be constantly replaced. Below are helpful tips on how to care for ratchet straps.
How to Care for Ratchet Straps’ Mechanism
The mechanism which makes ratchet straps functional requires utmost care.
- Inspect the mechanism regularly to ensure it is damage-free
- Clean the mechanism using a small brush to make it free from debris and dirt
- Lubricate the mechanism’s moving parts, specifically its handle, using WD-40 or light oil. Doing so keeps it moving quickly and properly. Make sure no other part of the ratchet is touched by oil such as the webbing because it attracts more dirt and may cause the webbing to bind.
- Keep water from getting into the mechanism as it could cause rust and affect how the moving parts function
- Dry the mechanism if it gets damp or wet prior to use
How to Care for Ratchet Straps’ Webbing
Regularly inspect the webbing to ensure there are no tears or rips that could cause ratchet straps to snap.
- Check the presence of frayed fibres because it is a sign that the webbing may have come in contact with sharp edges.
- Use rubber corner snap protectors to prevent further damage on the webbing
- Clean the webbing with warm water and soap using a good quality brush. Dry the webbing before putting it in storage.
- Avoid using bleach-based cleaning items or those with acid additives.
- Wind the strap up properly instead of tossing it in a storage pile after use. Doing so allows you to easily see abrasions, tears or rips.
How to Store Ratchet Straps
The following are proper ways to store ratchet straps.
- Store them away from direct sunlight as the ultraviolet rays can lead to the discoloration of the straps and therefore weaken the webbing. Continued sun exposure can make the straps brittle. Through time, the straps become easily vulnerable to snapping.
- Coil the webbing properly around the ratcheting mechanism and have it securely placed by either a rubber band or Velcro. You can also place them inside a fabric or plastic bag.
- Store the straps in a clean and dry space. When exposed to moisture, mould and mildew can make the webbing of heavy-duty ratchet straps very weak. The polyester could also be easily destroyed. Be aware that high humidity or rainstorms can even cause mould on ratchet straps.
- The mechanisms of ratchet straps have the tendency to build up corrosion if they are exposed to moisture. When this happens, they become difficult to utilize.
- Bungee balls are ties that help wrap up tie-down straps as well as secure canopies, keep box lids closed, bundle tent poles, anchor yard ornaments.
- Similar to bungee balls, bungee cords are able to fit the largest ratchet straps.
- Clinch straps are usually made of velcro and are effective in making loose webbing secure.
- Roll the straps to avoid them being tangled with each other. Having to untie them could be a problem especially if you spend a lot of time doing so.
- Be aware that irreparable damage can occur if ratchet straps are not properly stored.
- Ensure that the straps do not rub against objects or sharp edges as it could damage or weaken spots and therefore cause rips and tears. It could even produce burn spots.
- Replace the straps immediately once you see burns. Ensure that the straps used to replace them have an equal working load limit.
How to Read Labels on Ratchet Straps
Ratchet straps have the following coloured labels that provide safety information users need to know prior to securing loads.
- Lashing capacity (LC) shows a rachet strap’s strength. It indicates how a strap is sufficiently strong enough to completely secure your load. LC is measured in decaNewtons or kilograms (kg).
- Take note that straps are used for lashing and not lifting. Safety factors involved in lifting are different from the equipment used for lashing. Using a lashing strap for the purpose of lifting is prohibited thus the European Norm demands such a statement to be placed on lashing labels.
- A Geprufte Sicherheit Certificate is issued by testing companies. After a lashing strap is tested and is seen to comply with standards indicated in the EN 12195-2, only then is a certificate provided. Such a certificate gives manufacturers the permission to utilize the GS logo on a strap label. The certificate ensures that the straps are reliable and have been tested independently.
Care for Ratchet Straps by Properly Assembling and Operating Them
When ratchet straps are assembled incorrectly, tie-down fails could occur. It could similarly cause property damage or injury. They, therefore, need to be assembled correctly.
Ratchet straps have two main parts: the main section and the webbing’s longer section. The former consists of a ratchet buckle, a shorter webbing length, and a hook. The latter part contains a longer open webbing and a hook end.
- Begin by connecting every hook end of the strap onto a secure anchor point on your trailer or truck. Then, place the strap across the cargo you are looking to secure.
- The ratchet strap needs to be cycled until the axle’s open slot is positioned upwards when the handle is in a closed position.
- Feed the webbing’s open end through the axle’s bottom side. Pull through all of the slack.
- To tighten the ratchet down, open and close it three or four times. Lock the ratchet in place by returning it to a closed position. Try not to overtighten the ratchet.
- When disengaging the tie-down straps, pull down the bar’s center release. The handle should be rotated a complete 180 degrees until a click is heard and tension is finally released.
Ratchet straps that are not properly cared for could easily wear and tear. Eventually, this leads to failure, malfunction, and even cause unintentional damage to both life and property. However, an appropriately maintained strap has the ability to last for a number of years. Focus on minimizing if not eliminating risks as well as maintaining a strap’s longevity as doing so similarly ensures your cargo’s safety and security.
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