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The A – Z of Tie-Down Straps


Cargo shipping is one of the biggest industries in the world. In actuality, 90% of goods worldwide move from one location to another via ships. And within each country, trucks account for the highest means of transport for various goods. When shipping these items, it is expedient to have them secured in place to prevent slippage or collision. As a result, most shippers use various mechanisms, one of which is a tie-down strap. To some individuals, this is also known as a lashing strap, a ratchet strap, or a tie-down. It helps to fasten items in place to ease hauling and shipping.

Tie-down straps come in various types and for different applications. Hence, an individual should know which one of them works ideally for a specific purpose. This comprehensive discusses that and many more.

Selecting a Tie-Down Strap Based on Weight

Ratchet straps come in various weight classes to meet different purposes. In selecting one of these mechanisms, an individual has to consider the cargo’s weight. Using a tie-down with a smaller weight for a heavy item can cause the strap to snap and causing damage or harm in the process. So, kindly bear in mind that tie-down straps have what is known as a Working Load Limit (WLL). This classification helps determine the safety of product haulage during shipping.

When buying a tie-down strap, ensure that it exceeds the item’s maximum weight that needs securing. Hence, if a product weighs 2,500lbs, the ratchet strap should weigh more than that.

The Tie-Down Strap’s Length Counts

Apart from the tie-down strap’s weight, the length is another factor to consider when selecting this mechanism. When fastening an item, the ratchet strap is looped across, hooking one of its end to the truck and fastening the other end with the strap and the anchor. If the mechanism is too short, it will not be sufficient enough to keep the product in place. On the other hand, if it is too long, it may tangle with other items or hinder the shipping.

For lengthy straps, there are wrappers and housings in place to ensure that they are retractable, ensuring that the item is firmly placed. As such, shippers can move products across long distances, whether in-town or internationally.

Selecting the Right Hook for a Tie-Down Strap

Tie-down straps come with various anchors where a hook is attached to secure an item to the transport vehicle. Hence, it is essential to know which tie-down hook works to ensure safe shipping.

For example, J-hooks and S-hooks are used to secure goods to thin metal anchor points or flatbed platforms of trucks or car bumpers. On the other hand, flat hooks are applicable to flat, thin anchor points, including bumpers and square stocks.

Hence, a shipper should consider the above specifications when shopping for a tie-down strap, depending on the cargo’s weight and type of transport system. The ratchet strap for a truck is slightly different from that of a shipping container.

Tie-Down Strap Fastening Means

A tie-down strap spots a fastener that keeps a cargo firmly in place. This mechanism gives the shipper or logistics handler a mechanical advantage and ensures safe shipping across great distances. There are several types of tightening methods, including:

  • Ratchet Strap: this fastening mechanism features a ratcheting assembly that opens up on one end to accommodate the other part of the strap, securing a large item. Once in place, the shipper fastens the product to the truck using a lever.
  • Cum Buckle Tie-Down: it comprises a buckle that comes with a thumb release, which when pressed, keeps the slot open to accommodate the strap as it fastens a cargo to the transport vehicle. There is also a lever that ensures that the item is firmly secured; this serves as an added security feature.
  • Truck Winch Strap: this mechanism has several heavy-duty applications. It keeps a heavy item firmly stuck to a truck. A truck tie-down comes with a hook which the shipper attaches to the vehicle’s anchor point and crosses the strap over the item, fastening it at the other end with a winching system.
  • Retractable Ratchet Strap: just as the name implies, the strapping mechanism comes with a retractable strap that is adjusted to hold an item in place. Depending on how the shipper intends to secure cargo, such a person can retract or loosen the ratchet strap.

Applications of Tie-Down Straps

There are no limitations to what a shipper can do with a ratchet strap; this includes securing light-weight items, like cargo bags, furniture, kayaks, canoes, and surfboards on roof racks and mounted carriers. In the same vein, it can be used to hold large or bulky items in place, including:

  • Heavy-duty machinery
  • Cars
  • Motorcycles
  • Boats
  • Tractors
  • Snowmobiles
  • Heavy commercial appliances
  • Snowblowers
  • Industrial ladders
  • Recreational vehicles

Understanding the Merits and Demerits of a Tie-Down Strap

As with any other product or mechanism, tie-down straps have their advantages and disadvantages, which a shipper should be aware of before securing a cargo. This guide section discusses both aspects, starting with the pros:

Merits of Tie-Downs

  • Tie-down straps can handle various weight classes effortless.
  • They are light-weight, unlike other fastening mechanisms, such as chains.
  • These fasteners come with several types of hooks, including those discussed in the preceding sections of this guide.
  • They do no damage to the goods, keeping them safe all through the journey.

Demerits of Tie-Downs

  • Tie-downs can get damaged when exposed to heat, most especially from a vehicle’s exhaust.
  • Stretching a ratchet strap across a sharp edge can cause it to snap or wear out over time.
  • Consistent exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause the tie-down strap to break down.

Bottom Line

Tie-down straps are go-to fastening mechanisms when shipping large or bulky items from one location to another. Freight shipping companies and other delivery services use these devices to ensure that their cargos are safe and secured.

Once again, several factors are worth considering when purchasing or using a tie-down. The shipper has to evaluate its length, weight capacity, tightening method, hook type, and other security features. Once these aspects are in place, there will be no need to worry about the safety of a shipping item.

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