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Chicago Innovation Award Winner

Sterling

Winner in: 2018
Winning Product: TerraLam CLT Mats
Winner Category: Chicago Innovation Award
Industry: Industrial and Energy

South suburban-based Sterling can’t make construction equipment walk on water, but its TerraLam work platforms can make equipment more effective on land.

Sterling’s TerraLam mats are built with multiple layers of kiln-dried, southern yellow pine, stacked in alternating directions. The mats are then bonded with structural adhesives and pressed to form a solid, straight, rectangular panel. Based on real-world experience at infrastructure sites that include Wrigley Field, TerraLam provides a superior work platform for heavy construction equipment that is light-weight, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable.

Traditional bolted access mats and timber mats are made haphazardly with a variety of mixed hardwoods and softwoods, resulting in inconsistent and unreliable wear. Hardwood bolted mats also are exceptionally heavy, limiting the number of mats loaded per truck and increasing the amount of fuel necessary to deliver them to construction sites.

TerraLam mats are engineered to each customer’s performance specifications, resulting in a far more durable and reusable construction mat. Lighter than same-size traditional mats, TerraLam mats reduce truck transportation costs by 60 percent, and decrease the time needed to deploy them, significantly reducing operator and equipment hours.

Drawing on three generations of lumber expertise, family-owned Sterling built a unique environmental selling proposition around TerraLam. Its raw material – wood — takes about 20 years to grow where the hardwood species used in bolted mats can take 80-to-100 years to regrow. Since 2016, Sterling estimates it has saved 37,000 acres of hardwood timber from being harvested.

And the adhesive holding TerraLam mats together becomes chemically inactive before leaving the Sterling site, pre-empting harm to the environment. The metals in bolted mats oxidize, leaching contaminants into the ground and creating disposal difficulties.

Additionally, the solid surface and adhesive barriers between layers of TerraLam prevent invasive species from embedding into the mats as the pests do with traditional mats.

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