Five locations for ground protection mats

Ground protection mats can be used for different reasons in very different locations. Here are five places where you might find a need for ground protection mats, which together help to highlight how versatile and important these timber mats really are.

Roads

Roads benefit twice from ground protection mats – once from above and once from below. While the mats protect the road surface against any falling debris, they also help to spread the weight of vehicles and reduce the risk of breaking through the road into hidden cavities below, from buried utilities, to basements and buried fuel tanks.

Grass

Ground protection mats can protect grass, often leaving it in completely fine condition when the timber mats are lifted up again.

This makes them versatile to create temporary roadways, parking and staging areas, or to demarcate routes for pedestrians or vehicles for the duration of an event.

Mud

Muddy ground is one of the most common places to use ground protection mats, as they can hide a multitude of sins underneath to reinstate a dry and solid surface for feet and vehicles alike.

Used early in a project, they can even provide a physical barrier to prevent exposed earth from being churned into mud by heavy tyres, leaving less landscaping work to do in order to put things right later.

Canals

Ground protection mats are often placed in the bottom of drained canals to create a stable and dry surface to work on during maintenance and restoration.

This is especially useful when the bottom of the canal itself has become damaged, as the ground protection mats can create a reliable surface right up to the damaged area, allowing repair work to be carried out safely.

Sand

Yes, ground protection mats can even stabilise sand and other loose surfaces, allowing you to build a temporary roadway across a beach to bring ashore items shipped by coastal barge, for example.

This ability to be used in tidal locations can come as a surprise, but as individual mats can be moved quickly and easily into place, it’s a great way to produce a solid surface on any loose substance like sand.

Emtek heavy equipment mats offer environmental responsibility

Emtek heavy equipment mats are an excellent choice for heavy engineering works where environmental responsibility is a concern – an issue with growing relevance in an era of climate change and heightened social awareness.

While Emtek heavy equipment mats may look like other timber mats, there are several subtle design features that help them to deliver even better environmental benefits, over and above the natural advantage of being produced from sustainable, responsibly sourced timber.

For example, every Emtek heavy equipment mat is treated with LifePro micronized copper technology, which helps to prevent biological decay of the timber; they also feature steel edge protection, which further helps to protect the mat against damage at the edges, a place where mat degradation often begins.

Their laminated billet structure means that they can offer greater strength than other timber mats, yet with significantly less thickness per mat – which means more of them can be transported in a single truckload.

As a result, the fuel consumption of transporting Emtek heavy equipment mats is around half as much as would be required to move conventional hardwood timber mats of equivalent strength, and this means direct cost savings and a reduced carbon footprint.

Environmental responsibility is not just about emissions though, and on some sites you need to ensure the ground beneath the mats is not unduly disturbed – especially on land that forms part of a natural habitat, such as wetlands and swamps.

With Emtek’s interlocking clip system, you can easily create a consistent timber surface with no gaps or separation between individual mats, so there is no risk of isolated areas being left exposed.

On firm ground, Emtek heavy equipment mats have a loading capacity of 4,123 psi and are fully tested to meet the guidelines of ASTM 5456 so that you can calculate the ground pressure and deflection expected from a particular load.

By working out how much the ground beneath will be depressed, personnel can therefore be confident that no significant damage will be caused to soil, plantlife and any root systems at shallow depth below the surface – not to mention buried structures like pipelines that could also be affected.

Demolition protection mats help you stay fallout free

Demolition protection mats are the essential ground protection mats you need when bringing down any kind of structure, from tall towers and multi-storey blocks, to relatively contained and careful dismantling of single storeys.

They serve as all-purpose ground protection mats, providing a stable surface for workers to walk on, helping to spread the load of heavy machinery and rugged wheels on soft ground, and absorbing the impact and general debris of the demolition work itself.

Our demolition protection mats are heavy-duty, available in 150 mm and 200 mm thicknesses, and this helps to give you the maximum levels of safety on-site, including any sensitive areas where underground utilities and service lines might be buried.

With delicate pipework and cables often buried only a short distance below the surface, and prone to cracking if the ground shifts, demolition protection mats help to reduce this risk by spreading the pressure of vehicles and plant equipment, as well as any falling rubble.

You may have seen our road protection mats during demolition works at the University of Manchester on Oxford Road, where the pedestrian bridge access into the Precinct Centre was pulled down as part of campus regeneration works.

The bridge – which would have been 50 years old in 2019 – was demolished in mid-August 2015, with Oxford Road partially closed for only a few weeks afterwards, and fully open again as the new academic year got underway.

Our demolition protection mats helped to make sure the road surface on this important transport route through the University of Manchester campus was not significantly damaged by the works, which would otherwise have seen large high-reach trucks forced to drive on the exposed road surface.

With the help of our heavy-duty road protection mats the demolition works remained focused on bringing down the bridge structure with close attention to avoiding collateral damage in the surrounding built environment – with the buildings at both ends of the bridge retained for refurbishment works.

Ultimately this allowed a valuable transport route to reopen within weeks, and campus redevelopment continues as part of an ambitious multi-year investment – highlighting the importance of demolition protection for surrounding areas to keep large and long-term projects on schedule.

Long-lasting piling rig mats for the UK and Ireland

Durable piling rig mats from Timbermat create a solid and stable platform for piling rigs on ground that would ordinarily not provide enough support for the heavy machinery used in the process.

Like other timber mats, these serve as ground protection mats – preventing substantial damage to the surface beneath – but crucially also help to ensure machinery placed on top can be used safely, with less risk of toppling over during drilling operations.

Available in two different sizes, these are some of the most hard-wearing and long-lasting timber mats available, in recognition of the intensive loads placed upon them.

For smaller projects, there are also medium-duty piling rig mats, which still offer great performance under high-pressure loads, but use slightly less timber and may be easier to move into place with the lifting equipment typically available on smaller sites.

In either case, the strong and sturdy timber mats allow you to construct drilling rig platforms for piling projects, and are also up to the task of taking the weight of heavy plant and vehicles so that you can create a platform for all of your mobile equipment that can remain in place throughout drilling and construction.

We have drilling rig mats for hire immediately throughout the UK and Ireland, and we can also supply piling rig mats for sale, if you need a permanent stock of your own or prefer to make a long-term investment rather than rent piling rig mats on an ad hoc basis.

Larger numbers of mats can be combined to create platforms over large areas of unstable ground, or flat and level temporary roadways across the site – and you can combine this with our other timber mats, outrigger pads and so on to make sure you have covered all of the bases on your project.

Piling rig mats come in 150 mm and 200 mm thickness, and can be delivered to your location anywhere in the UK and Ireland. To find out more or to make an enquiry about piling rig mats for hire or for sale, fill in our online contact form, email info@timbermat.co.uk or call us on 08000 12 1231.

Five steps to a firmer foundation with crane mats

Crane mats are an essential step in laying a firm foundation when using heavy lifting equipment including vehicle-mounted cranes, and if you are not 100% certain of what lies beneath ground level, laying crane mats is an absolute must to help minimise the risk of subsidence during lifting.

Here are five steps towards safer lifting operations, thanks to the firm foundation laid using crane mats and outrigger pads, and a few simple precautions before and during the lifting operation itself.

1. Check the ground conditions

There are a few things to consider here – the type of ground surface, loose soil, wet sand etc, as well as any hidden risks below the surface, for example cavities left behind by underground storage tanks and utility ducts.

2. Choose your crane pads

Consider all of the characteristics of the crane pads you choose – their size, thickness, flexibility and load-bearing strength – and how these correspond to your lifting equipment and the ground conditions on which they will be used.

3. Add outrigger pads

Lifting equipment is more stable with outrigger pads – it’s as simple as that. They significantly broaden your contact base with the ground for a much more stable effective centre of gravity, and provide an extra layer of defence against the crane vehicle or other lifting equipment toppling over under an uneven load.

4. Lift evenly and within range

Don’t over-extend the lifting arm or try to hoist too much weight at once. If necessary (and possible) split the lifting operation into several parts so you can carry less weight or cover less distance, to keep all the variables within range – and look for signs of the outriggers starting to lift off of their outrigger mats, which could be a precursor to toppling over.

5. Watch for deformation

Crane mats and outrigger pads are designed to flex and absorb some of the pressure exerted on them, but look out for the entire mat sinking into the ground, as the soil itself might not be able to take the pressure, and this can quickly destabilise your vehicle or equipment.

Azobe mats for heavy duty crane operations

Azobe mats are our most durable timber mats for heavy duty crane operations, and give you a safe and stable platform for crane outriggers to stand on, spreading the load across an even larger area on ground where stability is still a concern.

Azobe is also known as Ekki and belongs to the botanical species Lophira alata, a durable tropical hardwood placed in Durability Class 1, with our highest volume mass, elasticity and flexibility strength.

Each of our most heavy duty crane pads measures in at 1m wide, 1.5m long and 200 mm thick, with two steel-reinforced lifting points for easy manoeuvrability.

Inside each lifting point is an M24 steel bar, secured on the side of the timber mat with a countersunk steel bolt and washer for a surface finish that is flush with the surface of the wood itself.

The dual lifting points not only make it easier to move these heavy duty ground protection mats from location to location as the crane needs to move, but they also ensure that the mat itself stays stable when in motion, with two points of contact with your lifting equipment.

All of the timber used comes from sustainable sources in accordance with present day laws on hardwood manufacture and procurement, and this is verified via registration with the Forest Stewardship Council, so you can have complete peace of mind that you are using outrigger pads made with sustainable timber.

The crane operator ultimately bears the responsibility for the use of crane outrigger pads, and by opting for a Class 1 durable hardwood like Azobe, you benefit from high-density timber mats with excellent strength and elasticity.

Also in Durability Class 1-2 are Okan and Dabema timber mats, both of which also offer high slide strength and pressure strength, along with flexibility and elasticity that comes a close second to Ekki timber mats.

Meanwhile for less heavy duty applications, our American and European Oak mats, as well as Beech timber mats, offer lower volume density, with slightly lower pressure and slide strength, but still good flexibility and elasticity – and every species of timber mat has its own applications for which it is ideally suited.

To find out more about the best timber mats for your upcoming project, call Timbermat today on 0800 012 12 31 or 0161 442 3157 and we will be happy to discuss your options.

Ekki timber Hastings Pier wins 2017 RIBA Sterling Prize

The biggest prize in architecture has been won by Hastings Pier, a minimalist expanse of Ekki timber boards known by locals as ‘The Plank’.

When the pier’s substructure was severely damaged by fire in 2010, two years after storm damage forced it to close, it looked like the end of Hastings Pier.

But with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund and tireless fundraising work by local residents, an architecture competition was launched to redesign and rebuild the pier to full working order.

In the end, London-based architects dRMM won the RIBA competition with a design that did not seek to rebuild a replica of a Victorian pleasure pier, but instead to construct a distinctly 21st century version.

Their minimalist structure has few permanent buildings, instead favouring an expanse of Ekki timber boards that serve as a versatile outdoor stage for performances, concerts and other uses, and have earned the reconstructed pier the affectionate nickname of ‘The Plank’ from locals.

RIBA recently announced the pier as the winner of the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize, the biggest award in British architecture, and praised its forward-thinking design.

Ben Derbyshire, president of RIBA and chair of the jury for this year’s prize, said: “Hastings Pier is a masterpiece in regeneration and inspiration. The architects and local community have transformed a neglected wreck into a stunning, flexible new pier to delight and inspire visitors and local people alike.”

The Ekki timber used in its construction is the ideal material to ensure the pier remains in good condition for many years to come, as the hardwood boards should be well resistant to the spray from the sea, not to mention its salt content and the strong coastal winds.

Ekki timber mats are used throughout construction for these hard-wearing properties, as well as making an excellent option for use as ground protection mats in coastal and tidal works, on waterlogged land and to provide stability on soft mud and sandy surfaces.

What size bog mats do I need?

One of the things you will need to know when ordering bog mats for hire or for sale is what size bog mats you actually need – but don’t worry, as it’s fairly straightforward to decide.

Standard bog mats come in a range of different sizes and thicknesses, and in terms of area you can usually choose between 3m or 5m in length and 1m in width.

But it is the thickness of bog mats that really affects how much load they can bear, and they range from 70mm thick up through 100 and 150mm to the very thickest mats of 200 and 250mm thick.

At this thickest end of the range there are larger area bog mats to choose from two, at 1m width and 6m length, and these can help to cover a larger site with a thick, solid and stable ground protection layer.

Thinner mats are still relatively solid, and 70mm bog mats should bear the weight of lighter construction vehicles like dumpers without any problems, at loads of up to 35 tonnes in total.

Go up to 100mm bog mats and you can expect your temporary roadway to withstand vehicle loads up to 45 tonnes, while 150mm bog mats can handle up to around 60 tonnes.

The thickest bog mats can withstand even heavier loads, but are also often used on very unstable ground, such as on sand or during works in tidal conditions.

For very poor ground conditions where heavy cranes need to pass over it, consider our Emtek laminated system, which measures in at 1.75m by 4.9m and 89mm thick, but is highly effective at spreading vehicle loads.

And finally, for extra grip and effective ground protection, Timbermat Ground Guards have a textured surface that makes them ideal for use as temporary pedestrian walkways in challenging conditions.

Whatever you need, there is a bog mat to suit the task at hand, and we are always happy to advise on the correct thickness if you’re not certain.

We can also advise on issues of accessibility, for example if you need to lay a temporary pathway suitable for wheelchair users as well as for pedestrians on foot.

American Oak vs. European Oak

Not all timber mats are the same, and one of the main factors that affects the life span and performance of timber ground protection mats is the particular species of wood used.

You might know that we offer Ekki bog mats and Oak bog mats – but did you also know that not all of our Oak timber mats are the same species, or even from the same continent?

In fact we can supply Quercus Petraea, commonly known as European Oak, as well as Quercus Alba, better known as American Oak.

So what’s the difference?

American Oak – Quercus Alba

American Oak is hard and heavy, with medium strength against crushing and bending, and this gives it low stiffness, making it ideal for temporary road surfaces beneath the heaviest construction traffic.

Flexibility is not a weakness here, as it’s important that a temporary road surface can flex to absorb the weight of traffic passing over it, especially when heavy plant vehicles are moving around.

All of our timber mats sourced from North America are certified by the continent’s Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) so that you can feel confident – and prove via documentation, if required – that the trees were farmed sustainably and exported legally.

European Oak – Quercus Petraea

European Oak timber mats have an expected life span of anywhere from 15 to 25 years, depending on how they are used and stored, and the conditions they are exposed to.

Quercus Petraea is fairly hard and dense, and again has low stiffness, which allows it to absorb shock impacts well – its strength against bending and crushing is even higher than its American cousin.

We recommend European Oak temporary road mats as ground protection for light to medium traffic on construction sites and similar premises, whereas American Oak is suitable for heavy cranes and as outrigger pads.

European Oak falls under durability Class 2 and is easily available across the continent, making it a hugely popular material for use in the UK.

If you need a supply of timber mats to buy or you have a one-off project and need timber mats to hire, contact us today to find out more about the right species of timber for your upcoming work.

Crane mats reduce your biggest risks

Crane mats do more than just protect the ground – they also protect you against some of the biggest risks you face on an active job site, where instability of heavy lifting gear or crane vehicles can lead to a costly catastrophe.

HSE statistics show that since 2001, there have been more than 60 reported safety incidents involving tower cranes in the construction industry, with 25 people seriously injured and nine people killed.

Along with this completely avoidable human cost, there is the financial cost – the destruction of cranes that topple on unstable ground, the value of anything destroyed where they land, the potential health and safety fines, and the lengthy interruption to construction work.

The sheer size of cranes and the quantity of goods that they can lift means the destructive forces involved in a collapse can be huge – but crane mats can help to make sure that the ground surface is properly prepared, to improve the stability of all lifting equipment, from the very largest to a relatively small vehicle-mounted crane.

When you lay crane mats, you can create temporary roadways for crane vehicles, or stationary platforms for static lifting equipment, so that you know what surface you are working on.

The mats help to spread the pressure and the downward forces from the crane’s legs, wheels or outriggers, and this in itself means you are less likely to sink into soft ground or break through into a hidden cavity below.

You can combine this with outrigger pads where appropriate, to achieve the same added stability for individual outriggers, rather than putting in place a completely solid platform or temporary roadway.

You reduce the risk of the ground giving way beneath the crane by distributing the weight more evenly; you lower the risk of the crane toppling if the ground on one side is softer than on the other; and where necessary you construct a temporary roadway that doubles as a demarcation system to highlight the safe route.

On top of all of this, crane mats deliver the general benefits of ground protection mats, protecting exposed earth, soil and lawns against being churned up by bulky crane vehicle tyres, and reducing landscaping costs to put it right again when construction is completed.

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