Summary: Buying mats are expensive. The industry has changed over the last 30 years as a result of decreasing forest quality. Mats vary in raw material strength and manufacturing quality. Using Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to evaluate mat purchasing is a useful tool to determine the lowest cost of ownership. Results can be surprising. Turns out that freight cost and longevity (itself a function of strength and manufacturing quality) far outweigh purchase price. This post summarizes potential TCO savings for Eucalyptus mats and then examines “Why” below.
Too good to be true? No. We’ve all had the experience of buying something that lasted just a few months, only to have to buy it again. Mats are the same thing (but it’s harder to correct the mistake once they’re laid down.)
For more detail, see TCO Examples.
Ever found that your timber mats or access mats had rotted? Or, have your dragline mats not performed properly? Or that they were supposed to last two years and lasted 6 months?
The question that will save you money is: “What’s the strength specification?”
Most users specify size, not a strength requirement. That’s costing you millions.
That approach might have worked 30 years ago when mats were made of oak, were true to size, and had no defects.
It doesn’t work now: Most mats are made of many different species, they’re thinner than advertised, and defects abound.
The difference is especially pronounced now when mat supply / demand is imbalanced.
Which mats below would you choose?
These 8” mats?
Or these 5” mats?
The performance specifications for a 48” pipeline with large pipelayers is different than the performance specifications for a transmission job with pile drivers and pickups.
A 48” pipeline might need an 8” Eucalyptus mat. Depending on load and ground conditions, a transmission line could use a 4″, 5” or 6” Eucalyptus mat.
The difference between the 8” mat and the 4″, 5” or 6” mat is huge. You’ll save on the initial purchase price, continuing lower trucking costs, and, if it’s Eucalyptus, the mat will last longer than mixed hardwood saving you replacement cost. (The three combined mean a much lower Total Cost of Ownership. )
You can see the rough equivalency of Eucalyptus vs. mixed hardwoods. If you are buying 8” mixed hardwoods these days many of your mats are sub 7.5”; a 6” Eucalyptus mat should save you a lot of money. A 5″ mat might work just fine, too. Compared to CLTs, Eucalyptus access mats are a lot stronger.
There’s a place for almost every kind of mat made. Knowing mat strength combined with performance requirements allows you to save money.
If you ask for performance requirements, you’ll save yourself a ton of money because you’ll be able to match the performance requirement with the best mat for the job.
(DISCLAIMER: Ground and use conditions vary by site. Check with your engineers before you make a purchasing decision.)