If you’ve never heard about hardwood mats, then today is your lucky day! Let this brief outline of hardwood mat use serve as an introduction to what some (not many, but definitely probably some) have called the greatest thing to grace the world since sliced bread. Hardwood mats wear many hats on the job site, but before we get to that, let’s talk about what we’re actually working with and how these valuable tools are made. A hardwood mat, which can come in many different shapes and sizes and can be called many different names (i.e. crane mat, bridge mat, laminated mat, swamp mat, rig mat, etc.), is basically, in its rawest form, a durable ground stabilizing platform constructed of hardwood lumber.Outdoor construction sites can notoriously become a hazardous or, at the very least, an unproductive place when bad weather and difficult terrain are combined. Mud jungles (never heard this term before? Neither had we until this very moment) can quickly turn a productive day into a day of frustration – being forced, instead of working, to spend valuable time pulling heavy equipment from the mud, clay, grit and grime of a heavily used construction zone. Setbacks like this can cause a lot of headaches, and if you’ve ever encountered this kind of situation, you know that headaches can be bad for the wallet and bad for client relationships if you’re a contractor with a deadline. Hardwood mats, then, are man’s solutions to nature’s curveball. By dispersing the load of heavy machinery over a broader area, and by replacing the loose and slippery earth under foot with heavy and secure hardwood mats, the job site can transform instantly. Because of this, hardwood mats are commonplace on pipeline construction sites small and large. By lashing sawn hardwood lumber together with heavy-duty bolts, a veritable renaissance of productivity is possible on the job site.The pipeline construction business is booming these days. In fact, its been booming since the dawn of mankind’s love affair with petroleum. There is a circulatory web in this country that would make our heads spin if we knew the actual extent of the pipeline zigzagging across the country. So, to prevent any heads from spinning, we’re not going to get into the numbers of it all right now. Suffice to say, this country’s petroleum circulatory system is vast. Often, we don’t really consider the nature of this system, primarily because the pipeline is usually not in plain view. Sure, there are plenty of places where you might catch a glimpse of a pipeline here or there. But, in general, these lines run outside the boundaries of towns, usually through more remote or rural environments, ideally making the least possible impact to the surrounding environment.So, how do you lay miles upon miles of pipeline and still minimize the impact to the environment? Is there really anything obtrusive or destructive about laying some pipe in or above the ground? Well, to answer those two questions you’ve so astutely posed, we need to look at the process of pipeline construction. Typical pipeline projects are often slated and planned years prior to any actual breaking of the ground. There are extensive permits that must be garnered and restrictions that must be taken into consideration. If you are a hardwood mat enthusiast (don’t be shy, we know you are out there) don’t worry, we’re going to get to the good stuff soon enough. Now, although hardwood mats and the use of crane mats, bridge mats, and swamp mats are still a distant, concern. Pipeline construction contractors will often begin planning to have the necessary supply of hardwood mats ready for day one of the actual construction process. Clearly, priorities are important!