The Oil Spill Continued:

Accessing Hard to Reach Areas

In our last post on the Dixie Mat blog we looked at the BP oil spill and the environmental fall out that could potentially arise from the problem. The area at greatest risk for damage as a result of the oil spill are the swamplands of southern Louisiana. These swamp areas create difficult logistical problems when it comes to clean up and protection. As oil drifts between the reeds and through the pools of the vast and reaching marshlands, the ability for clean up crews to access a majority of the affected area is severely limited. Swamp mats and temporary wood roads, however, can help these crews gain access to hard to reach areas thanks to their large surface area. This gives hardwood mats the ability to displace weight over a larger area than the four wheels of an automobile. There are still limitations, but the accessibility that is gained in the use of board roads and temporary wood roads is substantial.

The entire gulf coast is riddled with swamp and marshland. While beaches make up a larger portion of the coastline to the east of Louisiana, there are still miles of swamp and marsh, especially in more protected areas. Should the booms, deployed in the water to block the spread of oil, fail, then these less accessible regions will also be in need of clean up, and, most likely, board roads and hardwood mats.

The process of oil spill clean up is an intensive and long process. Finding harmed wildlife and scrubbing them free of oily residue is one piece of the process. Applying dispersants and oil eating bacteria to biologically degrade the oil are also components of an oil spill cleanup. The most valuable thing that can be done, however, is to contain the oil before it reaches the shoreline. In swamp areas, the deployment of booms is an essential piece of protecting the area. Using temporary wood roads and swamp mats, the process can be facilitated more smoothly. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to oil spill clean up, but there are certainly methods that can greatly aid the process. Hardwood mats, temporary wood roads, and swamp mats are all just pieces in a wide array of tools to help combat the damage caused by oil spills.

The BP Oil Spill

Temporary Wood Roads and Swamp Mats

An environmental crisis, possibly one of the worst our nation will have experienced in recent history, is unfolding right now along the gulf coast of the United States. The oil platform, Deepwater Horizon, exploded two weeks ago on April 20th, two days later it sank leaving oil gushing from damaged pipes near the sea floor. The bubbling wound has been spilling crude oil into the ocean at a rate of more than 200,000 gallons per day. As the oil slick creeps towards the gulf shore, it carries with it the potential to destroy wildlife, habitat, and the livelihoods of local fishermen and gulf coast tourism. Most likely, this isn’t news to anyone, especially given the fact that the leak has continued unabated for more than two weeks now. So, why is it being posted on the Dixie Mat blog? Well, the with the extent of the damage yet unknown, there is the distinct likelihood that Dixie Mat, with their hardwood mats and swamp mats, will become a valuable part of the clean up operation which will take place in the weeks, months, and years following the catastrophe.

The BP oil spill is especially worrisome given the rich wetlands of southern Louisiana and the clean up nightmare that could ensue should the oil permeate into the fragile ecosystem there. Wetland clean up would most likely be incredibly difficult because of the inaccessibility of the area. Luckily, swamp mats and hardwood mats that could be used to construct board roads and temporary wood roads would help allow access to places that would otherwise be nearly impossible to reach by vehicle.

So, what is a board road or temporary wood road? Well, temporary wood roads are simply strings of hardwood mats, like swamp mats, that are connected to each other to create a secure platform for vehicles to smoothly pass over swamp and marsh. As preparations for the wetland clean up of the BP oil spill are made, the use of temporary wood roads and board roads will most likely prove to be an invaluable resource. Despite the terrible cost of an environmental disaster like the gulf coast oil spill, wetland clean up can be made more manageable by temporary wood roads and swamp mats by Dixie Mat.

More Power

Transmission Lines and Swamp Mats:

In previous posts we looked pretty closely at the process of pipeline construction and the way hardwood mats and swamp mats are utilized to speed up the job and make it altogether more successful. We looked at the how they protect the land from the damaging treads of heavy machinery. We looked at how hardwood mats, pipe dunnage, and pipeline skids are utilized to protect the pipeline itself before it eventually is placed into the ground. We also explored the way that swamp mats have vastly improved the accessibility of once inaccessible and difficult to access sites. Wetlands, streams, and other areas of poor stability no longer provide as much of an obstacle. Because of the many benefits provided by swamp mats, their adoption into the pipeline construction industry has vastly improved productivity and success.

In a similar vein, the industry concerned with the construction of transmission lines is beginning to fully realize the benefits of using swamp mats to increase their productivity. There is little doubt that the use of these hardwood mats has vastly improved the ability of the industry to operate with efficiency. For many transmission line construction sites, accessibility has always been a major obstacle. Running transmission lines through open spaces is one thing, but cutting line through swampy regions and wetlands is a different proposition altogether.

In any given transmission line project, there are numerous heavy pieces of machinery and personal transportation vehicles that need to be able to access the job site. This is confounded by a lack of roads and soggy land where the simple act of crossing it can be an entire project in and of itself. This is where the benefits of swamp mats are great beyond compare. The traction and stability they provide by spreading the weight over a much larger surface can mean a difference in hours and hours of time that could’ve been lost in the process of crossing wetlands. For the construction of transmission lines, the incorporation of swamp mats has proven to be a crucial step in improving the feasibility of many projects. The hardwood mats, crane mats, and swamp mats provided by Dixie Mat have been a boon to the transmission line construction industry and many others as they provide stability and accessibly to difficult to reach places all across the country.

Industry Recap:

Hardwood Mats and Swamp Mats

The extent to which hardwood mats are used in the expansion of industry and the creation of infrastructure is substantial. There are countless industries that rely on the support and stable footing that hardwood mats and crane mats can offer. They can help protect against the erosion and degradation of valuable or highly sensitive land. They can also be valuable in the added traction and stability they provide in muddy conditions and wetlands. Good vegetation management techniques using swamp mats and hardwood mats make crossing farm fields and other sensitive areas with heavy machinery much less damaging. Trees with shallow root systems can be protected, and valuable top soil can be preserved. Because of hardwood mats, the efficiency and productivity of a crew working in any one of the many industries that use hardwood mats can be amplified and improved.

So, what industries are putting these hardwood mats to use? We’ll, we’ve already looked at a few of the more prominent ones. A major player on this list has been the pipeline construction industry. There is an almost endless demand for quality hardwood mats on the front line of pipeline construction projects. Running pipe across hundreds of miles of terrain requires the use of hardwood mats for both the protection of the pipeline and the protection of the land. Often after pipeline construction, the land requires some kind of rehabilitation and repair to help vegetation reestablish itself. By using hardwood mats to protect the land from the heavy and abrasive machinery used in the process, the land can be preserved and require a much less intensive restoration job afterward.

The wind energy industry is also high on the list of places you’ll find hardwood mats and swamp mats. The entire process of providing wind energy to the country requires the extensive use of building techniques that utilize hardwood mats. Again, crossing difficult, swampy, or sensitive land is a primary use for the hardwood mats in this industry. The protection of construction equipment and building supplies are also aided by hardwood mats, crane mats, and swamp mats, the likes of which Dixie Mat has been building for years.

Dixie Mat and the Weather

Mud on the Jobsite

In the last posting we explored the fact that there are a lot of uncertainties out there, like the weather for example. There is no telling, aside from a forecast, what the weather will be like when you start in on a project. It could turn out to be months of rain, and more significantly, months of mud. Or, it could turn out to be months of sunshine and ease. The bottom line is that in a place where uncertainty is often king, that place being the outdoors, hardwood mats can help overcome the obstacles that stand between success and delay with the certainty and foundational support that they offer.

Many people think of mud as just mud, but we know better. Like we briefly touched on last time in our look at hardwood mats and mud, there are a lot different kinds of mud. Mud is can be composed of sandy soil, topsoil, clay, and combinations of all three. Some mud is so slippery that even a well clad machinery stands no chance at maintaining traction. The only hope, of course, is the trusty hardwood mat, crane mat, or laminated mat. A muddy area with a slick mud top layer and a hard bottom layer can spell slippage for every variety of machine, vehicle, and person. Hardwood mats can help to firm things up a bit. Some mud is so dense and thick that vehicles can quickly get stuck in the cement like goop. There is a remedy though, and it involves hardwood mats.

There isn’t really a pressing reason to know about different kinds of mud unless you are trying to pick the kind of traction best suited to your situation. The real point is that all mud, in reality, is slippery, and all mud can create major hassles on the jobsite. Different kinds of mud can be addressed with different kinds of solutions, but one failsafe method, reliable in all types of mud, is the use of hardwood mats. Crane mats supply traction and stability to heavy machinery and light duty vehicles alike. Bridge mats ensure access across bogs and streams. Laminated mats afford stability to the personal vehicles and portable operation headquarters.

Hardwood mats are a lot like mud in the way that there are a host of different variations and kinds. They are also similar in the way that, while the details of variety can be important in some cases, they both do what they do best (mud making things slick and hardwood mats making things stable) regardless of what kind or variation you’re working with. Dixie Mat supplies the right kind of hardwood mat for every job, no matter what you need. Whether it’s crane mats, bridge mats, laminated mats, or full sawn skids that are needed, Dixie Mat has what it takes to keep moving, even in the mud.

Dixie Mat and Weather:

Spring Showers bring Mud’s Power

With spring approaching, there are a few things that can change quickly on any given day at the jobsite. As the weather becomes more uncertain and an afternoon or even morning shower becomes a regular part of the day, there are a lot of unknowns. Hardwood mats are not one of these. In addition to the reliability and functionality of hardwood mats and their myriad forms (crane mats, bridge mats, laminated mats, and timber mats) there is one more thing that is fairly certain in the spring; the fact that there will be mud. How that mud will affect the work day is another issue all together. Hardwood mats stand as the most reliable solution to mud and its multi-pronged attack on the success of a project. When you work in an industry where you make your living based on of how much you can get done, mud can prove to be more than just an annoyance. In the right circumstances it can slow operations to a standstill. Again, hardwood mats in their many forms offer hope. When working with heavy machinery in places that are prone to mud, a rainy day or two can be all it takes to turn what was once a profitable operation into a disaster. When vehicles and heavy machinery start getting stuck in the mud, the complications climb and climb. Dixie Mat has been manufacturing hardwood mats for this very reason, to prevent mud from clogging up your operation.
There are many types of mud. There are many kinds of mud because there are many kinds of soil, vegetation, and terrain. There are a lot of different kind of hardwood mats, too. The mud in one location can be starkly different than the mud in another location. Even on a single jobsite, the mud in one area can be a different kind of mud than the mud in another location. So too, with hardwood mats, different kinds of hardwood mats might be used from one jobsite to another, and even from one end of the jobsite to the other. There are crane mats that offer footing for heavy machinery…like cranes (hence the name), there are bridge mats for crossing streams and boggy areas, there are laminated mats for the stability of personal vehicles and portable operation headquarters. There are a lot of different hardwood mats just like there are a lot of kinds of mud, at least of this much we can be sure.

Dixie Mat and History:

Cranes and Crane Mats

Driving through any developing city or construction zone you are bound to see a crane in one form or another. While there are countless designs made for a wide variety of jobs, we can all recognize a crane when we see it. They are so commonplace in our modern world that most of us don’t stop to consider where they come from or what goes on behind and under them. Well, its time we give the crane some much deserved attention and look at a bit closer at their back story. Of course, no conversation about cranes is complete without talking about crane mats; so for today, we will also look at those overlooked but ever-present hardwood mats that make crane operations possible in some unlikely places.

Let’s take a quick jaunt through time and look at the birth of the mighty crane and its sidekick the crane mat. We’ll have to go back to Greece in the 6th century B.C. to get a good perspective. The Greco-Roman Trispastos, or three pulley crane, was the forerunner to every crane we know of today. It used animals to power the pulley system and was used in the construction of buildings. The development of the crane altered the way construction would be done for the rest of time, shaping the modern world as we know it. I’m sure most of you are wondering, where are the crane mats in all of this? Well, they weren’t on the scene just yet. The Grecian crane used posts dug into the ground; hardwood mats would’ve work against the design of the crane. As crane technology developed, however, the crane mat became more than just a twinkle in its mother’s eye. Necessity, being the mother of invention, demanded that cranes become larger and from this development crane mats would be born.

As cranes became bigger and bigger, their design was forced away from simple post and anchor designs and toward designs that demanded more stability. This meant bigger and more stable bases. Some cranes were built into a foundation in the ground and were unmovable, others were designed to be portable, and from this line crane mats and hardwood mats sprung. I imagine the first crane mat was invented in a muddy medieval field as a castle or moat bridge was being built. The builders were probably unable to lift a load because the soggy ground offered little stable support for the crane. Then it happened, someone created a hardwood mat (it might not have been hardwood back then, but they didn’t know better). They joined a dozen logs side-by-side, put their medieval crane on the wide hardwood mat they had just created, found the stable ground they needed, and successfully built the bridge or castle. It happened as quick as that; and while these hardwood mats were so useful, it doesn’t appear they were really developed on a large scale until a company like Dixie Mat came along and changed the world. Dixie Mat decided to go into the production of hardwood mats and crane mats to offer builders of every kind affordable and stable footing. Now Dixie Mat leads the pack in hardwood mat construction and builds some of the most durable and lasting crane mats on the market.

Energy News and Hardwood Mats:

The Eastern Seaboard Wind Farm

Lets try something. We’ll pick a topic, any topic, we’ll pull away the meat from the bones, and we’ll really look at what lies underneath. I bet that along the way we find some really fascinating things… like hardwood mats. My guess is that whatever topic we decide to dive into, we’ll find hardwood mats somewhere along the way. Since we’ve been talking energy, lets keep with the same theme. We looked at natural gas pipeline construction and saw hardwood mats in all their manifold glory. Crane mats, bridge mats, pipe dunnage, and yard cribbage; the industry was full, even replete, with hardwood mats. Then we looked at oil drilling, and of course we found… you guessed it, hardwood mats. From the crane mats used to support oil rig construction to the bridge mats and road mats used to ensure smooth access, the value of these important components was great. So, where now shall we look? Since we want to remain in the energy industry (that’s where a lot of the big news is these days), but since we also want to branch out, we’ll pick… drum roll please… wind energy. Still keeping with the energy theme, but branching away from non-renewable resources, we have our topic.

The most recent development in wind power news has come from the land of cold winters, cod fish, and our country’s capital. New England is considering embarking on an ambitious and revolutionary project (revolutionary at least for the United States) that could possibly supply all of the east coast’s electricity needs, and then some. While wind power is nothing new to this country, the scope and size of the proposed east coast wind farm, far and away, trumps anything we have attempted in the past. The project could include up to 160,000 wind turbines, all of which would be placed in a region of the Atlantic Ocean called the Mid Atlantic Bight, the region just east of the coast running from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

So where are all the hardwood mats? The scope of this proposed project will require thousands of trips from the shore to construction sites, some up to 100 meters from the shore. This means that millions upon millions of dollars of valuable wind turbine parts will need to be protected during their transport through the Atlantic. Enter the hardwood mats, serving as dunnage to secure the parts as they are shipped, both on land, in trucks, and by sea, in boats. The decking of the transport vessels will also need to be protected. Here too, crane mats and hardwood mats are the solution, providing solid protective decking. The construction sites themselves will be made up of platforms from which workers can securely operate. The decking on these platforms will be most likely include hardwood mats and crane mats, the kind Dixie Mat has been making for years.

Hardwood Mats and Oil Fields

So, thousands of miles of pipeline run all throughout the country carrying natural gas and oil. From refinery to holding and distribution sites, all the way to the factories, vehicles, and homes of customers; this circulatory system of petroleum products is essential for life as we know it. In previous posts we looked at the exclusive role that hardwood mats play in the construction of pipeline. In each stage of the process, hardwood mats and crane mats are there. Whether in the pipeline production yard serving as dunnage on the front lines serving as pipeline skids or crane mats, hardwood mats are a crucial part of the project. But, lets trace things back even further. All the petroleum products come from somewhere right? There are dozens of major oil fields in the United States alone, not to mention the countless smaller oil rigs scattered across the country.

Some of these oil rigs are in Texas where the climate is usually dry and there is less of a need for hardwood mats; although in rainy months they can be a welcomed help. While solid ground make for easier working conditions, sometimes drillers are not so fortunate. Oil is ancient organic matter that has been under intense pressure for ages. There is no room for being picky choosey about location in the oil industry. Drill sites go in wherever the fossil fuel is found. Sometimes it is in the middle of the desert, sometimes it’s in the middle of a swamp. This is where hardwood mats become incredibly important. This precious resource has to be extracted wherever it is found, and that can mean planning nightmares. How do you get all the components necessary for a massive oil rig into the middle of a swamp? Well, hardwood mats are the solution. In muddy and unstable soil, timber mats and even laminated mats are perfect for creating roads that defy the wet and unstable conditions. Bridge mats create a stable crossing over streams and swamp areas. Crane mats and laminated mats create a solid staging platform and solid decking around a drill site. Crane mats also allow the heavy equipment necessary in oil drill sites to operate without the problem of unstable traction and land degradation.

To keep the country running, Dixie Mat supplies the toughest and most durable hardwood matting around. New and used, DM is a forerunner in supplying these essential hardwood mats to the energy industry. By expanding the area and time of year that oil can feasibly be accessed, the country gets its oil a little easier.

Behind the Scenes and On the Front Line

Hardwood Mats Make Pipeline Construction a Reality

Because hardwood mats and pipeline construction are so closely tied to one another, its only appropriate to look more in-depth into some of the processes involved. A first look at this industry reveals that it would be impossible to complete any kind of industrial construction without the support of many unnoticed and often invisible elements; like hardwood mats for example. Crane mats and hardwood mats serve many purposes and play a vital behind-the-scenes role. And, when you consider the scope of planning and organization required to complete a pipeline construction project, the importance of available and the reliable resources like hardwood mats becomes incredibly clear. In nearly every step of this carefully coordinated and intensive process you’ll find hardwood mats being used in one capacity or another to bring about that final product, a functioning pipeline.

Even at the drawing board, before the project is ever put into motion, there is a fundamental understanding around which the whole project operates. This is the premise that if even one segment of the pipeline is damaged, the consequences could be costly. Full sawn skids are the answer to the call for undamaged pipe. Hardwood mats serve as cribbing for the pipeline from the moment the pipe is created in the factory to the final second of onsite pipeline construction. From its birth onward, there are countless opportunities for pipeline to be damaged. In the hard knock world of industrial construction, this is an ever present risk, a risk minimized by hardwood mats.

Now, a good question here might be, “aren’t pipes made of steel and designed to withstand some natural wear and tear?” The answer is, “yes… but…” It is true that pipe is made of high quality steel and designed to withstand the stresses of the real world; but, when working with the immense amounts of pressure required to push natural gas through an extensive system of pipes, even a small flaw in the pipeline can, over time or very quickly, result in a very serious problem with expensive repairs. This reality is the reason for the extreme care taken with pipeline. Hardwood mats, crane mats, pipe cribbing, and pipe skids are put to work every day protecting the valuable materials used during industrial construction. In every step of the process crane mats and hardwood mats from Dixie Mat ensure that the job gets done right and that the pipeline remains unharmed.