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2 Alternatives to Standard Flatbed Tarping


Flatbed trucking is back-breaking work. It can also be arm and leg breaking, too. Just ask any trucker who has climbed atop a load to tie it down or struggled with a tarp in a fierce wind. Flatbed trucking is certainly not for the faint of heart.

One would think that in this day and age of technology, manufacturers would come up with different kinds of tarping systems that would take the physical strain out of flatbed trucking. It turns out they have. One of the two options for replacing manual tarping has been around for years; the other is relatively new.

More flatbed truckers are taking advantage of the two options these days, according to Ohio-based Mytee Products. They are discovering that for a comparably modest investment, they can get a better tarping system that keeps them on the ground and minimizes the physical labor involved with tarping.

Option #1 – The Side Kit

Side kits have been around for quite a while now, according to Mytee Products. The company has sold quite a few of them over the years. A side kit is essentially a series of plastic panels and aluminum posts that create a box around the perimeter of a flatbed trailer. A set of rails over the top provides a frame for one or two tarps.

When a trailer is covered with a side kit, it looks a lot like an old covered wagon. If you have ever seen one, you know that a side kit completely covers a load so that it is protected against the elements, road debris, etc. Most importantly, side kits make covering loads a lot easier than manually applying tarps.

A well-designed side kit can be deployed in about 20 minutes or so. What’s more, most of the work involved can be done from the ground. Reversing the process to unload a trailer is just as easy on the other end, taking only about 20 minutes under normal conditions.

Option #2 – The Rolling Tarp System

A rolling tarp system is similar to a side kit in function. The main difference is how it is deployed. Where a side kit is not intended to be permanently mounted to a flatbed trailer, the frame of a rolling tarp system is semi-permanent.

The frame forms a box around the trailer that is then covered by tarps on the sides and roof. Tarps are rolled away for loading and unloading purposes, then deployed to create a shell that envelops the entire trailer.

The primary advantages of a rolling tarp system are:

  • Automation – Most rolling tarp systems are automated thanks to a few electric motors. The motors roll the tarps up and out of the way during loading, then lower them when it is time to cover everything up. Drivers can operate the systems from the ground. All that’s left to do after tarps are deployed is to secure them to the trailer with straps.

  • Speed – Where it can take 20 minutes or so to deploy a side kit, a rolling tarp system can be deployed in about 10 minutes. That is half the time. And for a truck driver who is looking to spend as little time on cargo control as possible, 10 minutes is a big deal.

The physical labor involved in tarping is considered by some experts one of the reasons it is getting harder to get people to take flatbed trucking jobs. Thankfully, manufacturers are doing their part to ease the workload. Side kits and rolling tarp systems are making it a lot easier to drive trucks for a living.

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