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Ratchet Straps Explained: Your Essential Guide

Ratchet Straps Explained: Your Essential Guide

If you’re new to ratchet straps and want to get up to speed, you’ve come to the right place. As the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of ratchet straps, it’s fair to say that we know these humble devices inside and out - we’ve been designing and manufacturing them for over two decades now.

We thought we’d use that knowledge and experience to put together a comprehensive guide covering all of the essential things you need to know about ratchet straps. From their construction and potential uses to safety standards, maintenance and how to use them, this article will fill you in on the basics.

Want to delve into a little more detail? Explore our other blogs to expand your knowledge further. Or, if you have any questions about our products, get in touch with us today.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at how ratchet straps are manufactured.

How they’re made

Ratchet straps are comprised of three key components: the webbing, the ratcheting mechanism and, in most cases, the hooks.

The webbing can be manufactured from a range of materials, depending on the intended usage and the required lashing capacity (measured in daN). Usually, webbing is manufactured from either polyester, polyamide or polypropylene, with the former being most common. All are acceptable, provided they meet your usage requirements and the relevant safety standards, including EN 12195-2.

Most ratcheting mechanisms use the same basic design, although there are now ergonomic versions intended to make the ratcheting motion that little bit easier. We’ll cover how to use ratchet handles later on in this article.

A variety of different hook types are available, including D rings, claw hooks, snap hooks and chassis hooks. Some ratchet straps are made without hooks, however; ‘endless’ straps, as they’re known, are commonly used for tying multiple pieces of cargo together.

What they’re used for

Ratchet straps have a wide range of uses across the transport and haulage industries. Predominantly, they’re used to tie down cargo during transit - everything from pallets to furniture, building materials and machinery can be secured with ratchet straps, provided the right strap and fastening approach is used.

Vehicles can be secured to recovery trucks using ratchet straps, too. Straps are placed across each wheel and locked into the bed of the truck or trailer, preventing them from rolling or jumping from side to side.

All in all, ratchet straps are extraordinarily versatile pieces of equipment. Provided you choose the right strap and the right supplier, there’s no end to the list of cargo you can transport using them. They are not suitable for lifting, however - you’ll see this noted on the label. Lifting equipment must conform to a different set of safety standards, hence the disclaimer.

Choosing the right straps

A variety of different considerations come into play here - we’ve listed the most crucial ones below:

  • Length: The length of a ratchet strap will determine the size of the cargo you can secure; shorter straps are best suited to smaller loads, while long straps can be used to secure larger items. A variety of lengths are available here at Taut Strap, ranging from 4 to 15m.
  • Minimum Break Force: This vital safety measurement determines the minimum weight at which a strap is prone to failing. For example, ratchet straps with a 5,000 kg Minimum Break Force may be able to take loads of 5,000 kg, but are likely to fail if pushed beyond this. For that reason, this figure should never be exceeded - and it’s best to leave a sensible margin just to be safe.
  • Lashing Capacity (LC): Measured in daN, this figure represents the maximum working load your strap can take without incurring any damage. This figure equates to roughly half of the strap’s maximum weight capacity in kg. Typically, the higher this figure, the wider the webbing is.
  • Webbing Elongation: How much longer the strap will get at its LC, expressed as a percentage. This should be no more than 7% in order to meet European standards.
  • Compliance with safety legislation: Every ratchet strap sold in the UK must conform to EN 12195-2:2001. A variety of other British and European safety standards are in place, too - make sure your straps meet or exceed these.

How to use ratchet straps

The various ratchet straps are used slightly differently, but the main things you’ll need to know are how to thread and release them using the ratchet handle - this process remains the same for all hook types, lengths and webbing thicknesses.

To thread a ratchet strap, simply pass the webbing through the opening of the rotating spool while the ratchet handle is closed. Pull it through, leaving a little slack, and raise and lower the handle to ‘ratchet’ the webbing until it’s tight. The more you ratchet, the higher the tension on the strap; make sure there is adequate tension before setting off with your load.

To release the webbing, all you have to do is pull up on the release tab of the handle and lay it flat, releasing the tension. The webbing will now be free on one side. Pull it through this side of the handle to release the strap and detach your load.

Maintaining your ratchet straps

There are several precautions you can take to look after your ratchet straps and maintain their performance:

  • Store them inside, away from damp and UV
  • Check them carefully for damage before and after use
  • Make sure the webbing isn’t rubbing against anything sharp while it’s in use. If it’s likely to, install wear sleeves or corner protectors to protect it
  • Never exceed the maximum working load

Get started today!

Ready to get some ratchet straps of your own? With a vast range of options in stock to suit every requirement and use case, you’ll be spoilt for choice here at Taut Strap. Explore our full range today and place your order online - we deliver across the UK and Ireland!

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