The following first appeared in the May 25, 2021, edition of Energy Now:
Bamboo Access Mats: A green alternative to traditional products.
As the focus on environmental responsibility in all areas of our lives continues to grow, participants in the energy and construction sector in Canada are continually looking for ways to meet and exceed the standards imposed by society, governments, and resource developers.
One of the more interesting recent product innovations has come in the area of access and rig mats. These products are used to build temporary roads and platforms that support equipment and provide passageway over unstable and environmentally sensitive ground.
It all began in 2011 when Dean Forbes, a Calgary-based entrepreneur, was asked to see if he could come up with a workable solution to problems with existing access and rig mats. Traditionally made of various woods like oak, fir and pine, these mats are easily damaged, became waterlogged, rot on site and mulch into the ground, driving up project costs for replacement and cleanup. It was uncommon for companies to purchase these products with any thought of reuse.
Dean was able to turn to an extensive global manufacturing network that he had accrued from years of construction and development supply for initial research and development. He gathered a team of engineers and fabrication experts to start the design process. This research and development period ultimately resulted in the development of the laminated veneer Bamboo Access Mat using bamboo sourced in Vietnam.
“Our team was really pleased that we were able to develop matting products that checked a lot of important boxes. Because bamboo is a grass that reaches full growth between 3 and 6 years (compared to 50 years for local hardwoods), our environmental footprint is much smaller” says Forbes “And the nature of the laminated bamboo system means our mats are more durable, flexible, lighter, absorb less water, and are more impervious to rot and insects than traditional matting.”
Since bamboo requires no chemicals and very little water to grow, it is an environmental wonder-plant. While bamboo is still an emerging material in the matting space, Western Canadian companies that have tried Crocodile Products’ access mats have quickly become impressed by the unique characteristics that are appreciated by clients around the world, from Asia to Europe to the United States.
Former ICBA Vice President Gord Stewart, who was instrumental in the Association’s advocacy efforts in the energy space, and in expanding ICBA into Northern BC, recently joined the Crocodile Products team.
“I was introduced to Dean and Crocodile Products through an industry colleague and immediately became intrigued by the ‘green’ story, but also because they support local developing communities in Vietnam through well-paying manufacturing jobs and bamboo forestry and farming,” says Stewart. “I think this is a really innovative product and look forward to representing Crocodile Products with my colleagues in the construction and resource industries.”
The manufacturing and supply chain that Forbes has built over the years has also recently come into play as the price for lumber and plywood has soared over the last year. The durability and longevity of bamboo is bolstered by the cost savings in comparison to traditional timber sources.
Also, three quarter inch plywood prices have tripled in some markets causing builders to reconsider the viability of some projects. “Crocodile Products affiliated company CrocPly utilizes our global infrastructure to offer the highest quality plywood products to the Canadian market that can help builders mitigate the impact of local price hikes” says Forbes.
Overall, the natural features of bamboo and the durability of Crocodile’s engineered bamboo products are forcing buyers to evaluate their priorities when it comes to temporary ground cover and building materials. Throwaway products are not solutions and gone are the days when it was socially acceptable to stabilize the ground with our forests to advance our oil and gas resource development. Crocodile Products provide an easy shift away from tradition.
For more information on Crocodile Products, visit their website at crocodileproducts.com