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Case StudyThe Cinch


The Cinch is an air-powered tensioner, developed by Traction Technologies, that greatly improves the safe securement of loads on commercial vehicles. It works by constantly maintaining tension in the straps used to secure cargo such as finished lumber, logs and other compliant types of freight. Cargo securement regulations require drivers to continually monitor and adjust their straps based on how far they have driven. Industry is increasingly moving towards the use of automatic tensioners for certain hauling applications and wider use is expected to be seen as time goes on.

A cinch.

Business Problem

The Cinch had undergone successful prototype testing in partnership with local hauling companies such as Arrow Transport who provided the opportunity to gather very valuable real-time data within their own fleet vehicles. Our engineers were needed to evaluate performance and prepare a production-ready design by providing design improvements to ensure reliability, improve function and reduce fabrication costs.

Technical Problem

A device like the Cinch sees a lot of abuse. Constant exposure to the weather and abuse on the road present unique design challenges. There were several important design criteria that we strived towards. It needed to be robust and require low maintenance. For ease of install and in order to not deprive the weight carrying capacity of the trailer, the unit needed to be relatively lightweight. Heavy-duty pneumatic components needed to be sourced. Also, a better means of removing the strap tension needed to be developed as a typical ratchet-pawl mechanism was deemed unsuitable since it would require too much exertion by the operator and potentially put them at risk of injury.


A 3D model was created of the design. A load-bearing frame of the unit was designed out of burned and formed QT100 plate with lightening features that were optimized using FEA stress simulation. The frame wrapped a sealed, lightweight steel enclosure. A sealed brake pod was mounted to the backside of the frame with the rod fitted inside the enclosure. The rod attached to a manual winch via a custom-designed wrap spring clutch. The wrap spring clutch provided constant strap tension until an operator wished to release it and, due to its wrap spring design, very little force was required from the operator – this was critical to the safe and reliable operation of the Cinch. A custom design was developed in partnership with one of the leading suppliers of wrap spring clutches in North America and the Cinch is the first automatic tensioner to build in this feature.

The design was optimized and readied for production. Testing helped to establish minimum operating requirements and informed maintenance scheduling. A complete set of production documents was created including fabrication and assembly drawings, sourced components, plate burn files and more. Our engineers were successfully able to assist Traction which further went on to secure interest from distribution partners in the US, gain venture capital investment from Canadian investors and eventually profited from the sale of the intellectual property and commercial rights to a third party.