What are outrigger pads and what are they used for? You may have seen them a dozen times and not noticed, but outrigger pads are quite common with heavy machinery. An outrigger pad is a sturdy, heavy duty mat or pad that helps distribute the weight of heavy machinery more evenly across a surface by creating a larger surface area for the machine’s outriggers/stablizers to rest upon. This helps not only stabilize the equipment, but helps ensure safety and protects the machinery, especially on softer, less ideal terrain. Outrigger Pads are often used with any machine that uses outrigger arms, down-jacks, or stabilizers such as Cranes, R.V.s, Boom Trucks, and other types of lifts.
In this article we are going to discuss the types of materials that are used for outrigger pads, as well as the difference in shapes. After reading through this, you should have the knowledge to help decide which outrigger pad will be a good choice for you.
Firstly, you must decide the material that is best fit for the job and meets safety requirements. There are quite a bit of differences between the materials out there and sometimes the heaviest duty may not be the best job and vice versa. Read below to learn more.
Wood - While wood may be inexpensive and sometimes more accessible, there are quite a bit of drawbacks. Compared to other materials such as plastics and steel, wood is porous and absorbs liquids/chemicals easily. This can weaken the wood causing it to break apart quickly and become unreliable. Another drawback of wood’s porous nature is, as water is absorbed, the wood becomes much heavier, while offering less safety. The heavier your outrigger pad is the more likely someone is to injure themselves while handling it.
Steel - While steel may be the strongest material out there, it's not always best for the job. Steel has been in the industry for years and has always been known for its strength, but is also burdened by its weight. Because steel mats are so much heavier than other materials, they often require additional resources to handle. This could mean extra employees, vehicles, equipment and so forth. Not only does this add significant costs to your operations but it may not be the best choice for the job anyways. But nevertheless, for some of the toughest, heaviest jobs out, steel will always have its place.
Synthetic - Now that we have looked at both the wood outrigger pads and steel options, let's take a look at synthetic. While the thought of plastic being a reliable option may seem odd at first, it's more often than not the best option available and for many different reasons. First off, in terms of sheer strength, steel will always ultimately be stronger, but for most common jobs, composite plastics are not only just as strong, but also lighter and more maneuverable on the job site. Plus they are moisture and chemical resistant which can be a major issue with wood outrigger pads.
When really looking at the overall factors of what makes a good outrigger pad, the durability, and lightweight plus chemical and liquid resistant aspects make synthetic outrigger pads generally the best option for the job. Remember to always consider factors outside of just the job; weather, site conditions, employee count and so forth. Having this knowledge will not only help you get the right outrigger pad, but also ensures you. your team, and your equipment's safety.
Sizes & Shapes
Outrigger pads are built in different lengths, widths, thicknesses and shapes. When it comes to shapes, there are pros and cons depending on what you choose. For example, because large square outrigger pads have a large surface area, they are not as easy to move around on the job site as round outrigger pads, which usually can be rolled into position by one person but have less surface area.
With the exception of mobility and perhaps placement issues, there really isn't much to discuss when deciding shape. The square options are typically more common, but having an additional set of round outriggers will always come in handy. But past that, sometimes it just comes down to preference.
While there is still plenty to learn about how to properly size outrigger pads, after reading this article, hopefully you should have a much more clear idea of how outrigger pads work and the differences between them. Remember, if you need help or have any questions please reach out to us here at Orange Seal and we would be more than happy to answer any questions on outrigger pads that you may have. In the meantime, stay tuned for our next article where we will look more in depth at sizing, and check out our collection of outrigger pads at the link below. Enjoy folks.