NICATS tensioners – The need for this product

Pallet loaded and tensionedStandard ratchet straps have been around for a long time and doubtless will always have an application in load restraint.

However, in the light of increasing health and safety concerns (and legislation), doubts about their suitability for securing loads have been raised.

In fact, in the vast majority of cases, the effort required by the user in order to achieve the necessary tension in the webbing, is in contravention of the guidelines for manual handling!

  • NICATS tensioners require minimal effort to operate.

The guidelines for load security state that an assessment must be carried out which includes a friction lashing calculation for the number and rating of any lashings to be used to secure the load This is based on the Standard Tension Force (STF) being applied.

  • NICATS T2000 unit has an STF of 350daN

As the tension applied in the real world is entirely subject to the operator’s efforts (and energy levels at the time) there is no assurance that the STF has been achieved.

  • NICATS tensioners reliably apply the rated STF. Calculations are valid.

Standard ratchet devices cannot be motorised as they are loose items. If they are fixed they are unable to accept the tensioned strap from any angle other than straight, which limits their scope.

  • NICATS tensioners can accept the tension from any angle within a wide arc

Standard ratchet devices are vulnerable and subject to damage. There is no control over their suitability after sustaining damage other than a visual check by the user.

  • NICATS tensioners are protected within or under the vehicle side rail

Additionally the T2000 tensioner can apply an STF of 500daN if the line is doubled back to a suitable anchor point. The remote control option has the extended possibility of introducing features such as usage logs and force measurement.

So, with its speed of operation, ease and flexibility of use and compliance with guidelines, the product should have rapid take up in the industry.

NICATS tensioner – Pros and Cons compared with conventional ratchet strap

Standard tensioner


  • Consistently applied tension in line with guidance (legally compliant)
  • Minimal effort by user to achieve tension (pull lever)
  • Rapid in operation (2 to 3 seconds)
  • Simple to release (push lever)
  • Discreet mounting  (in side rail of vehicle)
  • Clear indication of rope wear  (different colour core not normally visible)
  • Tensioners maintenance free  (for the typical life of the trailer)


  • Installation cost   (this is quickly recovered through time saved securing load)
  • Additional weight of installation   (unfortunately, this is unavoidable)
  • Maintenance of hydraulic/pneumatic power unit  (this would be part of the vehicle service)

Standard tensioner with remote control option


  • All of the previous pros plus:
  • Simple to use  (push button operation to tension and release on hand held device)
  • All units can be operated at the same time. Ideal for sheeted loads  (software option)
  • In cab warning to driver of loose lashing  (audible and/or visual)
  • Remote re-tension capability whilst it transit  (initiated by driver as required)
  • Remote operation of units from a safe distance when unloading


  • All of the previous cons plus:
  • Additional cost (again, this would be recovered through time saved securing load)

NICATS tensioners – Programme of development for the future

The current unit (T2000) is rated at 2000kg lashing capacity. This is the most commonplace requirement within the road transport industry.

Nevertheless, there is a considerable demand for different lashing capacities both greater and smaller, albeit in lesser numbers. It is our intention to develop the product range to include all equivalent capacities.

There is a need for the units to indicate the value of tension in the line, this is another feature we intend to add to the product, as an optional extra.

We intend to evaluate alternate markets and applications for the product and produce modified versions if necessary.

It is expected that this programme will commence in earnest when the business has become self-funding.