Muddy terrain makes accessing the areas where you’re trying to work either extremely cumbersome or impossible. Construction mating allows access into areas that would otherwise be inaccessible due to mud or equipment getting stuck. And in the end, using construction mats to access remote job sites makes the job site safer and prevents remediation and clean-up afterward, and enables work to happen in times of season and in areas where otherwise projects would come to a standstill.
This is something that comes up from time to time. And we always recommend having at least two to three feet of crane mat exposed on the outside of the equipments, either rubber tires or steel tracks. The reason for this is the crane mat itself is designed to distribute the weight and if the tracks or the tires are on the edges of those mats, one, you’re not distributing that weight in a functional way and two, you’re more likely to actually damage the mats because you’re bringing all the weight down on a small area versus having the mat do what it’s supposed to, which is distribute the weight.
So if you had an altering crane, for example, that has a width of eight feet, then you’d want at least two to three feet on each side of that mat, you would want at least a 12 to 14-foot wide mat. And the same would apply for larger cranes that have 32 foot from outside track to outside track. You would want something that exceeds that as well. There are alternatives, in some of those cases, you could use two 12-inch by 4-foot by 16-foot centered under each track and have a gap between instead of just going one long. But in essence, the concept is the same.
Most of the time when this question gets asked to me, it’s from people doing landscaping or tree and arborist work that are trying to protect a driveway or something similar. They have what we consider light duty equipment, such as skid steers, main excavators, pickup trucks, stuff like that in the 10 to 20, less than 30,000-pound range. More often than not a composite mat, a light duty composite mat, like the scout mat, which is a half inch by four foot by eight foot in size, they weigh 88 pounds a piece, or like sheets of ply would accept this a composite high-density polyethylene material.
Most of the time that’s sufficient to distribute enough weight to protect those areas. However, if you do have equipment that is heavier, 18-wheelers or concrete trucks, or things of that nature then we do recommend a heavier duty mat. So really it just becomes a function of what kind of equipment are you using. And that’s gonna be rolling across the areas and mating that up to the right kind of mat. There are mats for all situations.
It’s a question we are asked frequently, what we can expect the longer that I’ve done this the more that I hear about our wooden type of mats from the contractors that use them on a regular basis, anywhere between 12 to 24 to 36 months down the road, a lot of times dry rot will start setting in, even if you’re taking care of the mats and doing your best to preserve them at some point, the wooden mats do dry rot and so one to three years seems to be the average. I do get people telling me from time to time that their wooden mats last longer, whether that be laminated mats, or timber mats, crane mats, and such.
The composite mats, however, that’s different. Composite mats don’t really have a shelf life. They’re made from high-density polyethylene and have additives for UV inhibitors and such that extend the life even in an outdoor environment. And so I usually tell people, as long as you’re not destroying the mats with abuse, there’s no reason why the mats won’t last years and years, if not decades and decades to come. There’s definitely a point where for long-term projects and long-term solutions and people who have a vision for the future and know that they’re going to be using the mats over and over for years and years to come, composite mats tend to be the way to go if they can afford them front because they are more expensive.
Some of the most common sizes of crane mats are eight inch by four foot by 16 foot. Those weigh around 2200 pounds a piece. 12 inch by four foot by 12 foot, those will be around 2,500 pounds a piece. 12 inch by four foot by 16 foot, 3,650 pounds a piece. 12 inch by four foot by 20 foot, 4300 pounds a piece. The 24’s, 5,300 pounds a piece. The thirties, 6,500 pounds a piece, and forties 9,500 pounds a piece. These can vary depending upon what exact species go into the mat. And if the mats have had any time to air dry on the yard versus being just freshly cut and very, very green. So these values can vary.
The three common sizes, 8 by 12, as an example will typically scale 29 mats when they’re new to the truck. And those will weigh around 1600 pounds a piece. The 8 by 14 brand new will typically get 25 to the truck. Those weigh around 1900 pounds a piece. And the 8 by 16s will get 20 of those to the truck and they weigh around 23/2400 pounds a piece.
How much weight can a crane mat hold? This question comes up pretty regularly and it’s a bit tricky to answer because the mats themselves, their performance is strictly correlated to the ground conditions. So the wetter, the nastier, and the softer the ground conditions, the less that the mats will perform. So while one mat may work in one application, that same mat in a different application may be less than desirable.
Bridge mats are basically the same thing as our timber mats or crane mats. We make them in eight-inch thick and 12-inch options, up to 40-foot length is our max capacity currently. Great for getting across a ditch or a Riverbed or any type of clear span application. Also, gets used frequently for getting over underground pipes. We also have abutment mats to make sure that they have a solid foundation that we can offer. And we also offer and recommend decking mats, which helps prevent point loading.
Construction mats are used for crane work, heavy civil, temporary road access into hard to get into areas, right of ways, oil and drilling work, gas exploration, environmental remediation, turf protection, bridging and spanning applications, landscaping, train arborous work, and many other applications.
Crane mats are typically 12-inch thick timbers that are built into a four-foot-wide configuration by various lengths, 12, 16, 20 foot, 24, 30 up to 40 foot in length. Those are the common sizes. Custom sizes are also available and sometimes these are done in an 8-inch thickness as well. There are also composite crane mats that serve the same purpose, both in that same type of timber configuration though using composite billets as well as in overlapping and interlocking composite mats as well, such as the system seven mats.
Ground protection mats are any of the mats that we offer that would be designed to protect wetland areas, to protect grass or concrete, or any type of infrastructure where people are worried about the equipment causing damage to soil or ground or whatever the equipment’s gonna be driving on.
Swamp mats are made of dimensional lumber. Basically like two-by-eight boards. If you have those going north and south, one direction, and then on the middle layer they go the other direction west and east. And then on the bottom layer, again, north and south, you then have three layers of boards that get bolted together. And that’s how swamp mats are made. And that’s also why they’re called three-ply mats cause there are three layers of boards that are bolted together. Typical sizes are 8 foot by 12 foot, 8 foot by 14 foot, and 8 foot by 16 foot.
Not necessarily in any particular order, but I would say that accessing job sites year-round would be one of the most beneficial reasons for using crane mats. Traditionally, some companies wouldn’t do certain work at certain times of the year because it was too rainy and muddy. Crane mats allow for temporary roads out into those areas where work can be performed at all times of the year.
Another benefit would be safety. And this is incapable, as far as protecting human life and protecting investments that are made either through infrastructure or equipment. Crane mats provide a firm stable foundation for the work to be performed. And three, I would say time is money, and using mats expedites the process and makes everything faster and neater. And those would be the three benefits that I see outweighing most others.
Three-ply laminated mats are great for rubber tire vehicles up to 80,000 pounds, or even some tracked equipment on at the lower end. But by the time you have medium to heavy duty excavators and even some cranes up to 120,000 pounds or so, we recommend sliding over to the timber mat. Timber mats are designed to take a lot more punishment, they’re made from eight-inch thick solid timbers. And so excavators that need to perform work off of the mats, twisting and turning, digging such as dredging type work or pipeline construction, we recommend considering timber mats for these types of applications
A dragline mat is nothing more than an eight-inch by four-foot by 16 or 18-foot timber mat. Most of the time, these mats have notches, one on either end. Those notches expose the bolts on each end, the bolts that are used to assemble the mats, and those bolts can be used by an excavator or crane to pick up and move the mat around in pipelines. In the pipeline world, pipeline construction, the mats have been coining drag-line because they’ll tie a hook or chain or something onto that exposed bolt on the end of the mat and they’ll drag the mats around the job site. And that’s where that name comes from.
A protective mat is really a mat of prevention, preventing damage, preventing risk. Any of the mats that we make be it composite or wood could be considered a protective mat, be it you’re wanting to protect the grass. So you don’t have to replace someone’s grass if you’re driving across it or protect someone’s concrete driveway or sidewalks or inside a stadium and their Astroturf field. Depending on the equipment being used, we have mats for all types of scenarios, be it protecting even wetland environment.
A road mat is really any of our mats that will be used in an application to create a temporary road from one point to another point. Typically it’s due to a lack of accessibility from where the equipment would leave roads and need to traverse and get into an area to work such as a wetland area or into a farmer’s field. These mats are laid down one after another to create a road. And then at the end of the job, they get picked back up and can be used again.
A timber mat is also known as a dragline mat or digging mat, they’re made from eight-inch thick timbers. These eight-inch thick timbers get bolted together to form a four-foot wide mat. The two common lengths are 16 foot or 18 foot. And typically these mats are made from dense hardwood, such as Oak and similar species.