Sheffield festival falls foul of no ground protection mats

A park festival in Sheffield left residents outraged after a lack of ground protection mats led to the grass being churned into a deeply rutted wet and muddy quagmire.  

The event was called BassFest and was held on the Ponderosa, a designated ‘open space’ in Sheffield, although not officially a public park.  

Organisers Fire in the Park did not lay ground protection mats, so when the weather proved to be severely inclement on the day, there was nothing to prevent the field from becoming a muddy mess. 

 While this is in the true spirit of British festivals, it left a significant clean-up operation, and local residents are not amused. 

 Petition to put right the Ponderosa 

 Paddy Moloney took to Change.org to petition Sheffield City Council to restore the land to its previous even and grassy condition. 

 He wrote: “After a festival of music on the Ponderosa Sheffield, we the residents of this area are left with churned up muddy field. 

 The Ponderosa was used up to last week as a sports area for two local junior schools. This summer it has been used more by families for picnicking with their children.” 

 He added that “this all finished” due to the damage done during the event, and such use by local families and students would not recommence until the original condition was restored. 

 ‘Working on it’ 

 In an announcement following the petition, Sheffield City Council member for culture, parks and leisure Councillor Mary Lea said the authorities are working with Fire in the Park on the issue. 

 She added that “full reinstatement” is impossible until the ground is dry – and that the grass will not be reseeded until the spring. 

 Fire in the Park added: “We are fully committed to reinstating the ground and are doing everything we can to make this happen as soon as possible. 

 But with autumn-winter on the way, residents face potentially six months before grass returns to the Ponderosa, all for the sake of proactively protecting the ground in the first instance. 

 It’s a great example of why we often recommend ground protection mats for summer festivals, as you never know when the British weather will turn and clean-up can be costly and a lengthy process. 

Creative uses for bog mats

Bog mats are extremely versatile for use on all kinds of construction sites, festival fields, crane lifting platforms and so on, but the possibilities don’t end there.

Timber mats can find a lease of life in some very unusual places – here are just a few examples…

1. A base for buildings

Bog mats provide a stable base for crane lifting operations, parking vehicles on muddy fields and so on, but they can also work well as a base for buildings.

Whether that’s a cabin to serve as your site office, or something semi-permanent like a quick and easy timber base for a gazebo, all of the usual benefits of timber mats apply.

Just drop them into place, fasten them together, and you’ve got an instant hard-wearing floor that you can build all kinds of temporary to semi-permanent structures on top of.

2. Bog-dodging boardwalks

We’ve looked in the past at ways to build up the level of timber mats to create a temporary roadway above the level of boggy or marshy ground.

But why not leave them in situ as a semi-permanent pathway for future access? We have timber mats for sale so you don’t need to return them.

Durable timber mats can survive a good length of time even when exposed to the elements, and for light foot traffic this can be more budget-friendly than building a permanent boardwalk or footbridge.

3. Temporary tracks

Finally, why not turn a temporary roadway into a more permanent track layout for driving experiences?

Nobody’s suggesting you build a Formula One track out of bog mats, but there are plenty of other vehicles where a timber mat track could work perfectly well.

For example, if you want to offer tractor or digger driving experiences on your farm, a simple course laid out using timber mats could be just the thing to offer some stability and ground protection.

In this way you can help to improve safety for your customers, while also ensuring the pressure of the vehicles is distributed more evenly, leaving less clean-up if and when you decide to change the shape of the track, or remove it completely simply by lifting the mats.

 

Laying temporary building foundations using bog mats

Bog mats are often used to create a solid working surface on remote construction sites or where the ground is particularly prone to becoming muddy or churned up by rugged tyres and heavy footfall.

But they can actually also serve as temporary building foundations, especially for buildings that will be removed when work on the site is completed.

The same portability and versatility that makes bog mats so good for working platforms, temporary access roads and crane lifting platforms is what also makes them an excellent choice to place a cabin or even a portable bathroom on.

Some of the benefits of doing this include:

  • Ability to quickly define an area for temporary buildings to be placed on top of.
  • Create a clean and clear floor space on wet or muddy sites.
  • Create a flat, level floor on sites with uneven ground.
  • Protect the ground surface below so less remedial work is required.
  • Connect with temporary access roads for joined-up access across the site.

Simply join together the number of bog mats you need and you can create different sizes of temporary building platform – allowing you to create large staging areas for multiple cabins, or individual building stands connected by temporary roadways or pathways.

 

Why use timber mats as temporary building supports?

All of the usual benefits of timber mats are also beneficial when using them as temporary building supports.

Timber mats have low inherent value, so they’re relatively low cost compared with other ways to build temporary building foundations.

They sit on top of the ground surface and spread the pressure over a larger area, allowing even fairly large buildings to be constructed without piling or excavation work required.

Bog mats create a consistent surface by joining closely together, but retain flexibility so the ground below does not need to be dead level before they are laid.

And they are easy to re-position, so if you need your buildings to move to different areas of the site at different stages throughout the project, this can be achieved with a minimum of fuss – just use a forklift to pick up and relocate the timber mats to wherever they are needed.

 

If you require bog mats for temporary building support or just regular use contact us today. We sell or hire bog mats depending on whats right for the situation. We’d be happy to advise you.

 

The Bangkok crane fall that highlights importance of crane mats

An incident that left ten schoolgirls injured in Bangkok provides a stark reminder of the importance of crane mats and outrigger pads to create a stable lifting platform for cranes and other lifting vehicles.

In mid-June, a tower crane used in the construction of a 20-storey hotel in the Thai capital fell on to an adjacent building, the Assumption Convent School, leaving ten of its female pupils injured.

The incident was not the first problem to occur at the construction site, which had previously been the subject of complaints after contractors working there dropped debris on numerous occasions on to the school grounds.

On April 1st, a suspension order was issued, calling for an immediate halt to all construction work on the River Garden Hotel site.

But the contractors ignored this, paving the way for the collapse of the tower crane some 8-10 weeks later.

Any failure of equipment is regrettable but when innocent young people are injured in a preventable incident, this is even worse – so how can crane mats help?

 

Creating lifting platforms with crane mats

Some reports describe how the crane ‘toppled’ before raining debris on the school, much of it crashing through the roof of the gymnasium during a PE lesson.

It is essential during any lifting activity to ensure that the crane is stable, including taking into account the shift in its centre of gravity caused by the additional weight of the load it is trying to lift.

This can cause a significant movement in terms of where the pressure of the crane is exerted on the ground.

Crane mats interlock to create a consistent lifting platform, helping to spread this pressure over a larger area and dissipate those highest downward forces.

On unstable ground or where there is a possibility of hidden cavities, underground storage tanks and utility conduits, this helps to reduce the risk of breaking through and toppling the crane.

Meanwhile outrigger pads effectively increase the base area of the crane or lifting vehicle, making it less likely that the centre of gravity will move fully beyond the base and create the necessary instability for the crane to topple.

Together these measures can help to improve stability of the crane structure and of the ground on which it stands – reducing the risk of an avoidable incident like the one above occurring at all.

Can bog mats be used as bridges?

Many work sites involve challenging terrain, and where you have a ditch, gulley or river, temporary bridges and permanent bridges can be required – so can bog mats be used for this?

It really depends on how heavy the traffic over the bridge deck will be, the ground it is being constructed on, and the type of bog mats used.

Obviously the more durable the bog mats, the sturdier and longer lasting the bridge will be, and it is common to see Ekki timber mats used on bridge decks and piers alike.

Emtek heavy equipment mats are also a good option for bridging applications, including constructing heavy-duty boardwalks over marshy land for plant machinery and vehicle access.

 

How to build a bridge with bog mats

There are several ways to build a bridge with bog mats, depending on a few factors like ground quality, clearance and how even or uneven the floor level is

For most everyday applications bog mats are laid directly on to the ground, but when it is uneven this becomes impractical or even impossible.

The first option is to lay long beams in the direction of the roadway and then lay bog mats across them in an H formation – like the sleepers across railway tracks.

On very soft ground, this formation is reversed, so that the beams are laid across to spread the weight over a larger area, with bog mats laid on top in the direction of the roadway.

Again, Emtek heavy equipment mats can be used in this way, with bog mats used as pilings to support the roadway.

 

Spanning gaps with bog mats

If you need to span a substantial gap, bog mats can be used but it is important to ensure they can take the weight of anything that will pass over the bridge.

Again an H formation is typical, with load-bearing beams used to span the trench and then bog mats laid across these.

This can be particularly effective for temporary bridges as bog mats can be placed quickly and are easy to remove once work is completed, with none of the bridge structure left behind.

When and where to use bog mats

“Do I need bog mats?” is one of our most frequently asked questions from customers, and the answer is that if you think you might need bog mats, then you probably do.

The good thing about timber mats is that they’re easy to position, easy to move to a new position, and versatile for use as everything from ground protection mats, to crane platforms, to temporary roadways.

Because of this, many of our customers choose to invest in some of our timber mats for sale, so that they have a stock of them set aside for all purposes in the future.

As for the question of exactly when and where to use bog mats, the short answer is that you can use them almost anywhere at any time to give you a more solid or stable platform to work on.

Our most durable bog mats will give you years of service life under normal conditions, or alternatively we have less durable timber mats that can be used in the kind of conditions that are likely to leave them unfit for future use anyway.

Where are bog mats needed?

Some specific examples of when and where to use bog mats include:

  • Tidal areas where the ground surface is constantly shifting e.g. sand or mud banks.
  • Waterlogged ground like river estuaries, wetlands and swamps to improve stability.
  • Land with low particle density or known subsidence issues to prevent sinking.

Ground protection mats

In addition to this, ground protection mats can be used when you know or suspect that there is a void beneath the surface and want to prevent equipment from breaking through.

And crane platforms can be put together in order to spread the weight of heavy lifting vehicles above, reducing the pressure on any one point on the ground.This can be taken even further using outrigger pads to spread the weight, lower the centre of gravity and improve overall stability during lifting operations.

 

It’s unusual to find a situation where using bog mats is specifically undesirable – they’re easy and quick to use, and don’t add to your insurance risk, but can massively improve safety and speed up operations on wet or unstable land.

How piling mats help preserve heritage

Piling mats can help to allow work to continue on heritage buildings, both protecting the existing building while work is completed, while also enabling essential piling and underpinning to support any new additions to the building fabric.

A great example of this kind of approach is the London Screen Academy, a post-16 free school currently under construction at Ladbroke House in Islington.

Preserving history, promoting progression

Once completed, the new 16-19 school will teach specialist skills relating to the screen industries e.g. film and television, so students can progress into employment or higher education.

The project is being overseen by the government-owned property company LocatED, on behalf of the Department for Education, and the site itself presents numerous challenges.

For example, the original 1920s exterior is being retained for heritage reasons, while the new school is essentially built from scratch within its footprint. Adjacent public roads and party walls complicate matters further.

 

In a recent progress update, LocatED show a time lapse video of demolition work within the building as the central space is hollowed out to create new studios.

Timber mats can be seen throughout the video for a range of different applications, from creating temporary platforms for work to continue, to their use as ground protection mats on each level of the building during demolition.

In buildings such as this, piling and underpinning is often required in order to support alterations to the structure above ground – and piling mats help to allow piling rigs to be used safely.

Versatile, reliable shape and size

One of the advantages of Timbermat piling mats is that they can be taken into the building through a relatively small opening, but can be lifted and moved easily and joined to create a near-seamless working platform.

This is especially crucial in buildings with basements or cellars, or other voids below ground level, as a piling rig platform helps to spread the weight of the heavy equipment above so it does not break through any weak spots.

In this way, buildings can be renovated and significantly altered structurally, while retaining their outer facade so that the heritage of the premises remains intact, especially in historically significant locations or conservation areas.

 

Timbermat sell and rent timber mats of different sizes and wood types. If you have a delicate operation like LocatED does, get in touch with us now.

How to free heavy machinery stuck in mud

If you need to free heavy machinery stuck in mud, you’re likely to need two things: more heavy machinery, and a way to reach the equipment that is already bogged down.

Where to start with mud-trapped machinery

Assuming the machinery already stuck is not able to escape the mud even with a dry clean roadway, then it’s important to consider not only the weight of the equipment used to pull it out, but also the additional forces that will be exerted during the pulling or lifting process.

Because of this, it’s crucial to spread the load of the lifting vehicle so as to minimise the downward pressure on the mud and prevent another vehicle from getting stuck.

How can Timbermat help?

We supply emtek heavy equipment mats for some of the most challenging working environments, as they can be used in different configurations to overcome obstacles like waterlogged land and even bridging across gaps. These uniquely engineered timber mats are substantially stronger than standard bog mats and are fully tested, making it possible to calculate specific deflection and ground pressure conditions under certain loads.

On extremely boggy land, emtek bog mats can be laid in an H-configuration with mats laid across beneath the main temporary roadway, effectively acting as outriggers to spread the pressure over a larger area.

This can create an access roadway even on extremely challenging sites, providing a means for the rescue vehicle to reach the swamped equipment and haul it out on to the roadway.

Can you build a road to freedom?

In some cases where equipment is only partially bogged down but unable to move, it may be possible to free it by laying a clean, dry and solid temporary roadway right up to the tyres to provide some purchase.

Again emtek heavy equipment mats are a good choice for this on very wet ground, and we have an extensive range of alternative options that could also be suitable in less challenging conditions.

For this purpose, the idea is to lay a dry roadway in front of the vehicle (or behind it, if attempting to reverse out of a mud slick) and use its own engine and tyre tread to establish enough grip with the textured surface of the timber mats and transfer enough power to drive out on to dry and solid ground.

Timbermat can help free your trapped equipment. Just get in contact with us today to discuss options. It might also be a good idea to be prepared for next time!

How to maintain timber mats to keep them in good condition

Good quality timber mats will give you years and even decades of service life, with only some simple maintenance needed to keep them safe from avoidable damage.

Here’s our five-point guide to how to maintain timber mats to keep them in good condition for many years to come.

 

1. Know your type of timber mat

Different timber mat species have different service lifetimes, so make sure you know how long you can expect your timber mats to stay in peak condition.

Tropical hardwoods with the highest durability ratings can last for decades, whereas some of our European hardwood mats are rated for closer to 5-10 years.

 

2. How to keep timber mats clean

Timber mats are designed for outdoor use, so it is generally not a problem if they occasionally get wet or muddy, but you should avoid prolonged exposure to wet and dirty conditions.

Because of this, once you have finished using them on a job, you should clean any surface dirt and then allow the timber to dry out before storing them in a dry place – ideally somewhere indoors – until the next job.

 

3. Avoid damaged edges

The edges of timber ground mats are more exposed to damage, so try to keep vehicles in the middle of your temporary roadway or working platform whenever possible.

You can protect the edges of timber mats even more by using access ramps at the entry and exit point and ensuring adjacent mats are laid fully flush to one another and joined together using the designated connecting points where these are provided.

 

4. Replace damaged timber mats

When damage occurs, replace damaged timber mats at the first opportunity. This takes the damaged mats out of circulation so that you are always using safe and stable temporary roadways and crane platforms.

We have plenty of good quality timber mats for hire, so if you find you are facing an unexpected need to replace damaged timber mats from your own stock, it could be a fast and economic option to hire some as a temporary solution.

 

5. Hire or buy?

As well as timber mats for hire, we have a varied range of responsibly sourced timber mats for sale, with different characteristics to suit different needs.

If you have a job coming up and don’t have the right kind of ground protection mats, for example if you are using heavier crane vehicles than usual, give us a call and we can recommend the right timber mats for sale at the present time, which you will then have close to hand for future work whenever you need them.

Durability classes of timber mats – how do tropical hardwoods compare?

The durability of tropical hardwood timber mats is one of the main selling points, with decades of use under normal conditions – but what are the durability classes of timber mats like Ekki and Dabema?

First of all, the obvious disclaimer – wood is a natural product and when used under different conditions, especially challenging conditions like heavy construction sites, its durability will vary.

But a dense tropical hardwood timber mat will generally outlast a softer wood due to the more closely knit fibres within the timber, and durability classes of timber mats are there as a guide to this.

Timbermat Class Scale

Class 1 timber mats are the most durable of all. When used in contact with the ground, as our timber mats usually are, these should last for a minimum of 25 years.

With intermittent use and careful storage, this lifespan can be extended considerably – and the toughest tropical timber mats like Ekki could easily stay in usable condition for 50 years or more.

 

Class 2 timber mats are rated for 15-25 years, while…

 

Class 3 timber mats last for an expected 10-15 years. Again, this all depends on usage and ground conditions, including exposure to tidal and saltwater locations.

 

Class 4 timber mats have an expected life span of 5-10 years.

 

Class 5 timber mats are the least durable at between zero and 5 years.

 

Types of Hardwood

So how do tropical hardwood timber mats compare with European hardwood timber mat species?

 

Ekki is generally regarded as one of the world’s most durable hardwood species, if not the most durable of them all. It’s a Class 1 hardwood with an expected life of up to 50 years or more.

 

Dabema is a close runner-up, and is rated at between Class 1 and Class 2 – a durable option for all but the heaviest duty applications.

 

In European hardwoods, Oak is our most durable option. Ranking as a Class 2 timber, oak wood mats give you up to about 25 years of use in normal conditions.

 

Beech by contrast is a Class 5 timber, which means up to five years of usage, yet during that time beech timber mats offer some high strength characteristics, including resistance to crushing and abrasion.

 

If you’re not sure which durability class to choose, or how your usual operating conditions might affect the lifespan of your timber mats, give us a call on 08000 12 1231
and we’ll be happy to talk you through the options.

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