OTR Flatbed

Topic 25768 | Page 1

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Bree F.'s Comment
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I have been been reading a lot of great things on here to help rookie drivers like myself and it’s appreciated! Are there any tips for flatbed drivers (securing faster, learning how to secure different loads, backing, etc)?

Rob T.'s Comment
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Hopefully some of the crazy (flatbed) drivers chime in but I'm guessing it just comes down to repetition. Your backing especially will take at least 6 months before you start feeling confident. Even then you'll have days you struggle. I have a little over a year and a half and managed 2 tight backs (blindside offset and a site side 90 each only had about a foot on each side of trailer) today. Got both in then got back to terminal and struggled with a 90 with tons of room in front and sides.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Solo's Comment
member avatar

I'm too new to really provide you any insight. That being said, I do find myself getting faster with securing/breaking down each week. The key is to find a method to your securement (and breakdown) and fine tune it. Repeat it. Become more efficient at it. Don't keep going back and forth (each side of the truck). Work down one side and then the other. For tarps don't work all 4 corners. Work one end, fold it up the middle, then work the other end.

I've been OTR 4 months now and only 3 of my loads have been untarped...but I still feel I'm leaving a lot of time on the table w/ regards to my securing and breaking down, but I DO see time being shaved off, so I'm starting to finally be consistent and subsequently a bit more timely.

As for securing different types of loads...well, I'm probably not the best one to ask. TMC by default exceeds DOT requirements, and I exceed TMC requirements...it's just what makes me feel comfortable knowing that if something happens to the freight I'm hauling, then the trailer and tractor are going w/ the freight because it's not just falling off my deck due to poor securement. Does that come at a time cost? Sure does...but I've not had any loads shift, that's for sure.

As for backing? Ha...Ya, again...I'm too new. It's a struggle. Maybe one month I'll start to feel like I "get it", but the spread axles are just tricky to me. I GOAL A LOT and pray that with time, I get better.

I really believe it's all in the set-up and unfortunately, during my 5 weeks of OTR training, we didn't really practice backing. Did I back? Sure. A lot. But I just did what my trainer said to do vs me trying to figure it out. Time is money...trainers like money.

During my 3-weeks orientation, we just practiced the 3 types of backing maneuvers to pass DOT test, but didn't really explain how they would be applicable...and if anything, I've paralleled a HECK of a lot more than straight line back and off-set thus far... but should have REALLY spent time doing truck/rest stop backing maneuvers at both orientation and OTR training, since both of those are what cause the most preventable accidents for TMC per safety, but yet that's not their focus.

It's going to be a lot at first, but it does get better. People told me that ahead of me starting, and I didn't believe them but I am finally beginning to breath a bit more easily.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rubber Duck's Comment
member avatar

Most of the big flatbed companies have excellent training programs so if you just learn from them you will learn it all. If you ever feel uncomfortable with a load send pictures to your safety supervisor and he will help make sure you do everything by the book. You never stop learning but you want to learn as much as you can before you go solo. If you went with TMC, Maverick or Gypsum express you would be trained well I’m sure. I know there’s lots more but they are just the ones I know of that train new drivers to be professional flatbed drivers. I wouldn’t go with TMC though because they spend way to much time in the bay doing their tarps and bungies on paper rolls when they could have easily pulled out and finished out the way. TMC needs to train a little more on common curtesy. And the ones that hold me up are usually with a trainer. Sorry tmc. I still love you guys.

Retired supertrucker's Comment
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Hello, im a former flatbed o/o. The biggest way to increase speed that noone ever seems to do is to tarp "square" by securing the back flap first, then pulling tarp tight to center of the trailer while ignoring the bungies in between. Then repeat with the front tarp. Then throw straps OVER the tarp and tighten from front to back. This will tighten the tarp as well. With practice, you will soon be able to tarp and strap a load in less than 30 minutes.

I have been been reading a lot of great things on here to help rookie drivers like myself and it’s appreciated! Are there any tips for flatbed drivers (securing faster, learning how to secure different loads, backing, etc)?

Turtle's Comment
member avatar
I wouldn’t go with TMC though because they spend way to much time in the bay doing their tarps and bungies on paper rolls when they could have easily pulled out and finished out the way. TMC needs to train a little more on common curtesy.

So you just stereotype all TMC drivers into one group because of a bad experience you may have had? C'mon man, that's ridiculous. I've seen scores of TMC drivers who are just as courteous as the next guy.

The biggest way to increase speed that noone ever seems to do is to tarp "square" by securing the back flap first, then pulling tarp tight to center of the trailer while ignoring the bungies in between. Then repeat with the front tarp. Then throw straps OVER the tarp and tighten from front to back.

This may have worked for you, but personally I don't agree with that method.

First, I like to see exactly where my straps are being place on a load instead of blindly throwing them after the tarp is on.

Second, once at the receiver I can pull my tarps without having to completely unsecure the load. This lets me shave off a lot of time while manuevering through the yard and waiting to get unloaded.

Third, my company and a lot of others require loads to be strapped before tarps are put on.

Bree, like the others have said, repetition and practice are truly the keys to increasing your speed and productivity. In time you will come up with your own methods that work for you.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Josh's Comment
member avatar

Well I personally like to secure a load first with straps and chains before throwing tarps. Also spend the little extra time in making sure your tarps are as square as possible on the load. Once you get a tarp on I secure the 4 corners first trying to have bungees pulling out from the corners to keep tarp tight. Then do the rest. Another awesome trick that will save you time with your bungees is to get 4” PVC PIPE and cut a 25” section and a 35” section and put your bungees on them. It cuts down tons of time trying to untangle bungee cords or find metal hooks that have fallen off..

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

PackRat's Comment
member avatar

Crimp the S hooks on the bungee end with a set of vice grips or channel locks and they won’t fall off.

Retired supertrucker's Comment
member avatar

You can see exactly where your straps are placed by positioning the spools where you want them before rolling out the tarp. While i dont necessarily think this method should be used with every commodity, it is great for loads requiring 8 foot drops, shingles, and onions. Steel products should never be secured this way because of the high likelihood of tarp damage.

double-quotes-start.png

I wouldn’t go with TMC though because they spend way to much time in the bay doing their tarps and bungies on paper rolls when they could have easily pulled out and finished out the way. TMC needs to train a little more on common curtesy.

double-quotes-end.png

So you just stereotype all TMC drivers into one group because of a bad experience you may have had? C'mon man, that's ridiculous. I've seen scores of TMC drivers who are just as courteous as the next guy.

double-quotes-start.png

The biggest way to increase speed that noone ever seems to do is to tarp "square" by securing the back flap first, then pulling tarp tight to center of the trailer while ignoring the bungies in between. Then repeat with the front tarp. Then throw straps OVER the tarp and tighten from front to back.

double-quotes-end.png

This may have worked for you, but personally I don't agree with that method.

First, I like to see exactly where my straps are being place on a load instead of blindly throwing them after the tarp is on.

Second, once at the receiver I can pull my tarps without having to completely unsecure the load. This lets me shave off a lot of time while manuevering through the yard and waiting to get unloaded.

Third, my company and a lot of others require loads to be strapped before tarps are put on.

Bree, like the others have said, repetition and practice are truly the keys to increasing your speed and productivity. In time you will come up with your own methods that work for you.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Retired supertrucker's Comment
member avatar

Also, i owned the company so i guess i made my own rules haha. I enjoyed this method because if I took my 10 in their lot, i could unstrap during my break then roll into their yard. Also, the tarp was still protecting the products which is priority 1 imo. Once they opened the gate, I'd pull in and have tarps off in 5 minutes and HELP them with dunnage while rolling tarps. I've noticed with my experience that when i helped them with the dunnage, often times the other lift drivers will come over and help because they dont have to leave the seat. I know most people dread menards loads because of the wait. I got to the point where they'd recognize me when i came in and id drive around everyone in line because they knew id be out helping and fast. Just be real cool with them and they may even help with tarps. There you have it fellas, the 15 minute logged unload. In flatbedding, the early bird gets the worm. If you are not first in line everyday, your week is already screwed up from day one.

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