If you just landed your first trucking job with a freight company that moves extra-heavy loads on flatbed trailers, then you need to learn how to safely tarp your loads. Tarping is the best way to protect your loads from damage in transit, and knowing how to safely tarp and untarp your loads is an essential skill all truckers must learn through experience.
As a new driver, you need to quickly learn more about the tarps and tarping systems available today. To this end, here is some information to get you started:
Rolling Tarp Systems vs. Manual Tarps
While hauling a load on a flatbed trailer, you are responsible for keeping the customer's items from potential damage that can be caused by storm water and road debris. There are two main choices when it comes to tarping systems:
- rolling tarp systems
- manual tarps
Rolling tarp systems have a metal frame that is attached to the flatbed. Tarping systems make the tarping process as simple as raising and lowering each tarp.
If your employer doesn't use rolling tarp systems, then you will use one of three different types of manual tarps:
- steel chain
Here is a bit of information about each type of tarp and their ideal uses:
Steel Chain Tarps
Steel chain tarps are ideal for securing loads such as steel coils, crafted materials, and rebar. These types of loads will damage tarps made of vinyl or canvas and are best contained with tarps made of steel chains.
As the name implies, vinyl tarps are made with a very sturdy industrial vinyl material. Vinyl tarps are ideal for use with loads that are not overly susceptible to damage but that need to be covered to keep them out of the rain. Vinyl tarps are less expensive than canvas tarps, so many truckers choose to use them for rain storms and save their more expensive canvas tarps for snow and times when it is excessively hot.
Canvas truck tarps are made of a thick, industrial-grade canvas that is naturally water resistant. Unlike vinyl tarps, canvas tarps are breathable which makes them ideal for use with loads that will be damaged by excess moisture getting trapped below the tarp, such as classic cars or wooden structures. Finally, where vinyl tarps will have problems with melting and cracking in the excessively hot sun of summer or freezing temperatures of winter, canvas will perform fantastically.