Which Winch is Which?

air cargo straps

Cargo straps are specifically designed to hold loads in place on air cargo, trucks, pickups, trailers, rail cars, semis, and other freight carriers. Usually produced from polyester, air cargo straps are extremely durable and highly resistant to weathering, abrasion, and corrosion. Choosing the right air cargo strap can seem like a simple task but there is actually a lot to take into consideration before doing so. The types of restraint systems and fasteners you choose depend entirely on your shipment. Let’s explore your options:

To begin, you will need to decide on a valid restraint system for your air cargo straps. This is simply a mechanical device (called a winch) set in place to help you adjust the tension of the straps. Winches come in a variety of styles. First, there is a weld-on winch, which is mounted permanently in a fixed position. Then you have a portable winch that can be placed anywhere along the trailer side rail. For more complex winches, there are sliding and lashing styles. Sliding winches move easily in both directions and fasten in place once pressure is applied to the webbing (they also have the option of being welded in place). Lashing winches on the other hand are bolted to a trailer and work best with a ratchet buckle due to their quick release capabilities.

Once you have determined which restraint system to use with your air cargo straps, you can now select compatible fasteners. The fasteners are the weakest point of the restraint system and vary in workload limit, so it is important to know how much the shipment weighs in order to determine which hardware you will need. Simple fasteners include flat, wire, snap, and grab hooks, delta rings, twisted loops and chain anchors. For a sturdier hold, one of these complex clasps will work wonders:

air cargo straps
Over center buckles, cam buckles and snap hook hardware

Cam Buckle: A cam is a small rotating or sliding piece used to push down on the webbing. Its edge is usually knurled (patterned), which allows for a better grip.

Over Center Buckle: This is a slightly more complex threading procedure that uses a tensioning method to fasten easily. When the fastener is “open” excess webbing can be fed through the buckle; when “closed,” tension is added to hold the buckle in place.

Ratchet: A ratchet is the most complicated type of hardware. It functions like a socket wrench and takes up the slack in the webbing and tensioning the assembly.

So what’s the bottom line? There is more to air cargo straps than just the specific width and material. Choosing the right restraint systems and fasteners can make all the difference when protecting your shipments. So, take the time to explore your options and really assess your load to determine which tools you will need to attach to your air cargo straps.

How to Use Air Cargo Straps

Loading a vehicle or heavy object on a trailer is typically a fairly easy process, but making sure it’s secured correctly is another story. You want to make sure the object being towed is tightly mounted to the trailer, otherwise you could loosen a strap and lose the load. For that, you use air cargo straps. These tie-downs work great for securing a load to an aircraft, to a trailer, or to a hand truck. Using them correctly is pretty easy; it’s just a matter of technique.

1. Look at the object that you want to secure and start to figure out a plan of action. The goal is to make the object being moved and the object doing the moving (pallet, truck bed, etc) one solid unit. By doing this, you minimize damaging the object in transport, and also lessen the risk of loosening a strap because the object moves. To do this correctly, find a space to tighten the load to on the pallet.

2. Secure one hook of the air cargo strap to the tie-down on the pallet or trailer bed, and wrap the strap around the load. If you’re moving a vehicle, wrap the strap around a suspension point such as the axle or lower control arm, or just hook the other end of the air cargo strap to a suspension point. If it’s an object, connect the other hook to another tie down point on the pallet or trailer.

3. Locate the ratcheting mechanism on the tie-down strap. It’s a handle with a barrel in the middle, which the strap wraps around. Place your hand on the handle and pull it in the opposite direction, then back down. This is going to pull the air cargo strap into the barrel, so if you see excess strap, make sure to line it up as you’re ratcheting using your free hand. Continue ratcheting until the strap is tight, and then pull back on the handle really hard to secure the load. Wrap any excess strap around the rest of the strap and tie in a knot if necessary.

4. Repeat this process for any additional cargo strap you want. If this is on a vehicle, you want a cargo strap to be on each corner, pulling the suspension point away from the center on all corners. This way, if one strap fails, the others will keep it in place. Apply the same method for an object that you’re carrying, by orienting the straps to pull in opposite directions.

Below is a detailed video on how to use a ratchet. This will help speed up the process of securing the air cargo strap to your shipment.