Ratchet straps are essential for secure cargo transport, particularly in the trucking industry. They come in various end-fittings, such as wire hooks, grab hooks, flat hooks, chains, or S-hooks, to latch onto anchor points on the floor or walls of your truck. Ratchet straps are made of polyester webbing and can be run through a buckle that allows you to loosen and tighten the strap until you have enough tension to secure the load. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about ratchet straps, from types to step-by-step instructions on how to use them.
Ratchet straps are versatile cargo tie-downs that secure your load on flatbed trucks or enclosed trailers. However, ratchet straps aren’t suitable for all types of cargo. While they work by running over the top of a piece of cargo to secure it, they aren’t compatible with very large cargo-like cars. For auto-hauling, you’ll need speciality auto-hauling straps.
Ratchet straps don’t require your truck to have trailer winches installed along the sides, unlike winch straps. Ratchet straps can be secured independently to any anchor point on the floor or side of your trailer. You can use them whenever you need to secure a piece of cargo for transport.
Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on how to use ratchet straps:
Step 1: Use Release Catch to Open Ratchets
The release catch is located at the centre of the movable top of the ratchet. Lift it to open the ratchet handle and axle simultaneously so that the open slot is pointing up. You’ll feed the strap through this opening in step 3.
Step 2: Close and Flip the Ratchet
Close the ratchet so that you can access the axle assembly. Pull up on the release catch and flip the ratchet so the cogs (spiked wheels) are facing upwards.
Step 3: Thread the Strap Through Open Slot
Take the open slot at the bottom of the ratchet (mandrel) and thread the free end of the strap by bringing it underneath the ratchet and pushing it up through the open slot. Wind it around the axle and slip the strap back through the same opening. The strap should lay straight and overlap with the second half of the strap on the opposite side of the ratchet.
Step 4: Secure the End-Fittings
Take the attached end-fittings on both ends of the strap, such as flat hooks or chains, and place them into position.
Step 5: Pull the Free End of the Strap
Pull the free end of the strap until it’s taut so there’s no slack between the two ends of the strap.
Step 6: Tighten the Ratchet
Pump the ratchet handle to remove any remaining slack and tighten the strap. Be careful not to over-tighten, as too much pressure and stress can damage the cargo or tear/break your strap. If you can’t fit at least one finger between the strap and your cargo, it’s a sign it’s been overtightened, and you should loosen the strap.
Step 7: Close and Lock Ratchet Handle
When the strap is completely taut, close the ratchet handle completely and lock the strap in place. Flip the ratchet back into the closed position and press it closed until you hear it latch.
Step 8: Pull and Hold the Release Handle
To unbuckle the straps, pull and hold the release handle. The release tab should be easily accessible at the top of the ratchet. This will override the ratcheting function and release the lock, opening the ratchet handle. Then, the strap will come loose, and you can easily pull it through the axle slot. Flip the ratchet open so it lays flat, and pull the strap from its hold.
Step 9: After Usage, Inspect, Wrap, and Store
When you’re done using your ratchet straps, taking care of them is important. Wrap them up and tie them with a rubber band. Once the strap is secure, put the strap and ratchet gear in a dry case or bag.
Inspect your straps and ratchet after each use to ensure they’re still in good condition. Check for any tears, damages, or elongation/deformation of the ratchet, the end-fittings, and the strap. If you see any damages, you know to replace your trucking accessories before the next job!
Ratchet straps come in different types depending on their use and application. Dry Van Trailer Straps are designed to secure cargo in dry van trailers without anchor points. Winch straps are another type of strap wound unwound by a trailer winch. They are suitable for hauling heavy-duty machinery, vehicles, and boats.
In conclusion, ratchet straps are essential for securing cargo during transportation. Following the step-by-step guide outlined above, you can ensure that your load is secured correctly and that your ratchet straps are properly maintained for future use. Always check your straps before use and inspect them after each job. With the right ratchet straps and proper technique, you can transport your cargo safely and with peace of mind.