Adequate crane mats or crane cribbing provides an ideal surface for your mobile crane, boom truck or other heavy construction equipment. The primary purpose of having adequate mats or cribbing under your outrigger float pads is to reduce the concentrated ground pressure or to distribute the ground pressure over a larger area. Good mats inter-lock, and provide protection for the ground as well, preventing the crane from sinking when lifting over the area being supported.
There are several choices in reducing the load bearing pressure under your crane:
Wooden blocking is usually either found around the job site and stuffed under the crane or its outrigger pads to reduce the ground bearing pressure. This is probably the cheapest route for supporting your crane but is not necessarily the safest. You can purchase a better version of these blocks from companies that specialize selling wooden blocks. A common choice of crane blocking for crane operators are 6” x 8” x 4’ hard wood timbers that are fairly simple to handle one at a time and can provide the support your outrigger float pads need without having to strain yourself too much.
Wooden pads are another choice for crane support. With multi-layer plywood support these pads are stronger then sheets of plywood alone. These pads are sold with as much as 78 layers of wood to support your crane.
Composite or fiberglass pads are also made from fiberglass composite or plastics that can withstand fluctuations in temperatures without curling or breaking down under the cranes weight. These can be found by visiting companies such as Fiber Rigg, Prime Tech, Bigfoot, or DICA, These pads are lighter then wood and usually do not bend or get deformed. Another choice for reducing the ground pressure under your outrigger that crane operators like to use are engineered outrigger pads. These pads provide high degrees of crane safety with an engineered level of flexibility, strength, and durability that wooden pads might not. Engineered or composite outriggers are also continent in moist and wet condition since they don’t absorb water. This can make this type of crane cribbing much easier and lighter to handle then wooden blocking
Timber mats consist of wooden timbers fastened together using bolts to insure the mats work together as a unit. You can find mats for sale by companies such as Sterling Lumber Company, Paul Davis inc, and UPF Western Division Inc. These crane mats are great when working in muddy conditions, on barges, and anywhere where you do not want the crane to sink. Some of these companies allow you to rent to own these mats.
Many crane incidents and accidents happen because of an inadequate supporting surface below the outriggers. The supporting surface is one of the single most important factors of crane operation. The capacity of your crane is only as good as the supporting surface beneath the outriggers. This is especially important to keep in mind when working over the corner. Since the entire weight of the crane and the load can be transferred to it when the crane is making a lift. Cribbing under the outrigger pads helps support the crane and load weight, adding to the setup safety. Cribbing helps absorb noise, vibration, and provides extra grip for the outriggers. Cribbing must be made of a substantial material, be larger than the outrigger pad, and always level to decrease risk of slipping. Always make sure that the mats or cribbing is sufficient to support the entire weight of the crane and the load.
The combination of quality crane mats, outrigger pads, blocking and cribbing will help you operate your mobile crane more safely, reliably, and give optimally support the load.
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