I am not afraid to admit that I’m a big fan of tiedown straps. They can be top-of-the-line cam straps from Rollercam.com or generic ratchet straps from the big-box department store. It doesn’t matter to me as long as they do the job. And for the record, I gained my fondness for tiedown straps while working a job that involved driving a box truck.
Tiedown straps inside a box truck? You bet. Just because a box truck has walls, a roof, and a secured door doesn’t mean your cargo will stay in place on its own. Unless you are working with a fully packed box, cargo still moves around as you drive. The movement can cause big problems.
Delivering Coffee and Water
The job which I previously wrote about was a route sales job that required me to deliver coffee and water to local businesses. Boxes of coffee and five-gallon bottles of spring water made up the bulk of my cargo. But I also carried racks of coffee pots along with cream, sugar, tea, bottles of soda and juice, and even some paper products.
If you can picture it, imagine a truck full of boxes of varying sizes and shapes. Also imagine full water bottles being traded for empty ones throughout the day. There was so little uniformity that preventing things from moving around was nearly impossible.
Thursdays Were a Nightmare
My biggest delivery day was Thursday. I handled over 120 bottles of water and dozens of boxes of coffee. As for the other stuff, all I can say is that I moved a lot of it. By the end of the day, the remnants of my load were scattered throughout the box. I had so many empty water bottles floating around that they literally enveloped the remaining coffee products I had on board. Wading through that sea of bottles to find the remaining cases of coffee was a task I did not relish.
Eventually I hit on a solution: tiedown straps. My boss suggested a load bar, but it would have been too high to do the trick. So instead, I secured the lower layer of empty bottles with two straps. Then I placed plywood on top and started building a second layer. It was also held securely by tiedowns.
Problem solved. Thursdays were no longer a nightmare. My empty bottles stayed where I put them, leaving me with easy access to the rest of my load. It worked so well that I modified the system to account for the different loads on the other four days of the week.
Physics Don’t Change in a Box Truck
Using tiedowns seemed so simple that I felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner. For some unknown reason, it never occurred to me that physics does not change inside a box truck. Motion is still motion. Kinetic and potential energy still behaves the same way. The only difference is that I had a box that prevented my cargo from spilling out onto the street. But that didn’t stop it from moving around inside.
It has been a long time since I drove that truck. And yet here I am, still using tiedown straps when others laugh at the idea. Let them laugh. I have discovered the many advantages of securing cargo in place during transit. Whether it is moving to a new house with a rental truck or carrying cargo in the back of my SUV, I tie things down. I don’t want a repeat of Thursdays on the box truck. I’ve had enough of that chaos, thank you very much.