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Ratchet straps — sometimes also referred to as cargo tie-down straps — are lengths of polyester webbing used for securing equipment or other cargo during transportation. Ratchet straps attach loads to the floor of flatbed trucks or the insides of enclosed vehicles via anchor points. They can be acquired in lengths of 6 to 40 feet and are usually offered in widths of 1 to 4 inches wide.
In this article, we will look at the different types of ratchet straps commonly used when you hire flatbed truck delivery services — as well as the factors to consider when choosing what to use.
There is a wide range of different types of tie-downs in the trucking industry. When choosing ratchet straps to secure cargo, there are a number of factors to keep in mind, including the size/weight of the load, the load limit, and branding considerations. What follows are strap options and what they offer from a variety of perspectives.
In general, lashing straps are the lightest-duty of the types of straps for trucks, with a breaking strength of 220 lbs. and a maximum load limit of 100 lbs. They feature a gator clip, which tends to be easy to use, and are designed for small loads on vehicles like game carts and cargo carriers.
Cam buckle straps are heavier-duty than lashing straps but lighter-duty than ratchet straps — and easier to tighten and release than ratchet straps. They have a break strength of 1,500 lbs. and a maximum working load of 500 lbs. Cam buckle straps are meant for medium-sized cargo like ATVs and dirt bikes.
Ratchet straps incorporate a ratcheting mechanism to lock and secure the strap part, resulting in a more secure, tighter restraint system for loads. They are designed for cargo that is solid and heavy, with a breaking strength rating of 15,000 lbs. and a working load of 5,000 lbs.
In general, the wider ratchet strap types are preferable, as they tend to be stronger. Ratchet straps that are 2 inches wide are good for load limits of 3,333 lbs.; 3 inches wide, 5,000 lbs.; and 4 inches wide, 5,400 lbs. You may have to use a number of straps to disperse the tension, especially if your load is heavier than the specified load limits.
Many FTL carriers like to coordinate straps with the color scheme of their vehicles or brand for visual appeal or brand consistency. There are also visibility factors that may determine which color of the strap is used for heavy haul trucking. While the most traditional color used for ratchet straps is yellow, many prefer red, orange, or green straps for high visibility, especially for low light conditions. Blue ratchet straps are available but are mainly used for branding since blue is not a high-visibility color.
There are different types of anchor points — as well as other factors — that determine which end fittings are the best for your load. Metal hooks are, of course, stronger and more durable than plastic hooks. Stainless steel hooks are more rust-resistant, making them useful for tie-downs with expected exposure to a lot of moisture. End fittings also have particular working load limits. An average load may only require a 2-inch-wide strap with a 2-inch-wide hook, whereas a heavy load requiring more securement may need a 4-inch-wide strap with a 4-inch-wide hook.
Flat hooks are ideal for flat anchor points, such as those found on the underside of a trailer, stake pockets, and rub rails, although they can work with L-trackers with a Double L-Track Plate Flat-Hook Receiver adapter. Flat hooks tend to be easy to anchor things securely and are usually made of coated or plated steel to prevent rust and corrosion.
J hooks — sometimes also referred to as wire hooks — are meant to be used with trailer sides, but especially with D-rings and O-rings, which can be individually bolted to the truck's flatbed. Alternatively, you can acquire floor plates that provide many J hook-compatible anchor points.
Chain hooks — sometimes also referred to as grab hooks — are quite sturdy and work with most types of anchor points. They connect to a chain end fitting and are usually made of a steel alloy plated with gold chrome against rust.
Snap hooks are excellent for heavy-duty loads that require strong securements, such as boats, personal watercraft, and other recreational vehicles. They are designed for easy anchor point connections in areas without much room and provide extra security by way of their built-in keepers, which help keep hooks connected if the truck hits or experiences a bump in the road.
When choosing from the different types of tie-down straps, you need to consider the following factors:
Often abbreviated as WLL, a ratchet strap's working load limit tends to be a third of its breaking strength rating. For example, if the ratchet strap has a break strength of 2,200 lbs., it can safely secure cargo up to about 730 lbs.
The best length for straps is determined by the load size and the strap strength required for that load. It is always recommended to have an extra 3.5 feet of ratchet strap for every 10 feet of cargo. In terms of width, heavier loads and heavier-duty securements favor wider straps.
There are ratchet straps that are consumer grade, and there are straps designed for heavy-duty/industrial loads and applications. You need to make sure your end fittings have the best metal for your purposes and that it is coated to protect against the elements and corrosion.
The expected mode of transportation — such as truck, air carrier, ship, or moving van — will also be a determining factor when it comes to choosing the best ratchet or other tie-down straps.
Some types of tie-down straps have easy-to-use release mechanisms and comfortable/ergonomic handles. Others have grips that are harder to use and release tabs that are more difficult to use. Well-designed, easy-to-use tie-downs are always recommended.
Higher-quality, better-designed, easier-to-use products tend to be more expensive, so your strap budget should reflect the kinds of loads you reasonably expect to transport.
There are three main benefits of using ratchet straps:
Independent securement. Ratchet straps don't require winches to be installed and are designed to be independently secured to any anchor points along vehicles' floors or sides.
Strength/durability. Ratchet straps are long-lasting if properly used and maintained, have a high resistance to abrasion, and tend to resist the elements and water damage.
Lightweight nature/flexibility. Ratchet straps have the heavy-duty capacity of G70 chains but are easier to roll and store due to their flexible, lightweight nature.
Ratchet straps are an important staple for FTL carriers and other cargo transportation service providers. Making sure you have the best ones for various load requirements is crucial for safe securement. Contact LAX Freight today if you have questions about the tie-down straps that will be used for your cargo, and take a look at our extensive range of transportation services.