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Ground Protection: Part 4 - WORKHORSE 1-inch Versus 2-inch Panels; What's the Right Choice?

Our “ground protection journey” reaches its last stop in this fourth post in our four-post series. To get up to speed, we recommend you check out the following three articles:
Part 1: Why Would You Need Flooring Outside, Anyway?
Part 2: So You Need a Hard Floor for Outdoors. What Material Suits Your Job?
Part 3: Plastic Flooring—Choosing Among Durability, Speed and Security of Connection

Whether you are creating a temporary road to your construction site, setting up a field hospital or a temporary base for a medical relief effort, or protecting the ground at your event venue, you need to choose your modular ground protection carefully. Which thickness is right for your application? Today’s analysis can help you save money, time and effort.

First, Clarify Your Needs

At WORKHORSE, we have two basic product profiles: of our three ground protection products, two are 2-inches tall, and one is 1-inch tall. Each product excels in different situations. 

So before we recommend any solution for a customer, we first look at the big picture. So that we can better understand our customer's intent, we ask questions like:

  • What are you trying to accomplish, and why?
  • What solutions have you tried in the past? 
  • What is the timeline?
  • What is the ground like?
  • What kind of weight needs to be supported?
  • Are there any transportation constraints?

Once we have the basic questions above answered, we delve into the first decision point regarding product selection: Standard or Integrated Cable Management (ICM) panels.

Standard vs ICM Panels? 

This first decision point basically comes down to one question: do you need to manage or store wires and cables for your project?

Zipline personnel perform maintenance on a UAV Drone on top of WORKHORSE 2-inch Ground Protection panels

If so, then the WORKHORSE 2-inch ICM Panels might be the best bet for you. Below are some examples of types of applications where the 2-inch ICM have been incorporated:

  • UAV/Drone Operations facilities
  • Temporary medical facilities
  • Outdoor learning facilities (classrooms/museums)
  • Event venues

Some customers opt to go entirely with 2-inch ICM for their solution, that way they have the flexibility to put wires/cables anywhere they want. Because the 2-inch ICM is able to be used interchangeably with the 2-inch Standard, other customers only put the ICM panels where they know they want cables, and use the Standard everywhere else. This is because the ICM is slightly more expensive and slightly heavier than the Standard. 

Visitors tour an museum exhibit in a tent that is on top of WORKHORSE 2-inch ground protection panels

If we have jointly determined that you solution requires cable management, then the 2-inch ICM is the product we will recommend, either on its own or in conjunction with the 2-inch Standard. If your solution does not require cable management, then we move on to our next decision point.

2-inch Standard Panels vs 1-inch Panels

When trying to decide between the WORKHORSE 2-inch Standard Panels and WORKHORSE 1-inch Panels for a customer's solution, there are several key categories to look at:

  1. Intended use
  2. Ground Pressure
  3. Type of Ground
  4. Logistics (e.g. personnel, storage space, transport)

Let's dive into the first one. 

Intended Use

Convention guests listen to a presentation inside of a tent on top of WORKHORSE 1-inch ground protection panels

The 1-inch Panels may be more appropriate if:

  • The ground is firm: there is limited chance of the floor sinking.
  • There is not a lot of mud—for instance, you are placing them on a parking lot or hard packed stone or dirt.
  • There is not much water/rain expected (e.g. you are setting up in the dry season in your area).
  • The duration of the project is short (e.g. an event company making a quick temporary road to haul equipment across a client's grass field, then picking it back up again)

Zipline personnel smile and wave for a photo on top of WORKHORSE 2-inch Ground Protection panels

The 2-inch Panels are generally superior if:

  • You need to get further off the ground for some reason.
  • The ground is muddy.
  • There is a high likelihood of rain or snow.
  • There is a chance the flooring could sink in.
  • The duration of the project is more long-term (i.e. anything from a few weeks to semi-permanent)

Weight Capacity – Ground Pressure

When considering weight capacity, ground pressure—in other words, how much force is applied per unit of ground—is what matters, rather than something's total weight. So things like tire size and quantity are key factors. For example, an M1A2 Abrams tank weighs approximately 72 tons (144,000 pounds), but because that force gets distributed over all the tracks in contact with the ground, the tank only exerts approximately 2,160 pounds per square foot of ground pressure. On the other hand, a 1,250-pound horse standing still exerts approximately 3,600 pounds per square foot of ground pressure—66% more than the tank! This is the reason why snow-shoes work in the winter- they spread the wearer's weight over a greater surface area. 

British Royal Marines use snow-shoes to walk through the snow in the winter

So what does this mean when it comes to choosing a type of WORKHORSE ground protection panel? The honest answer is: you probably don’t have to worry about it. Given a solid subsurface and a static load, our 2-Inch Panels can withstand up to 47,500 pounds per square foot, while our 1-Inch Panels are rated up to 80,000 pounds per square foot. So unless you have an extreme amount of weight being concentrated over a very small section of ground (called a “point load”—think an elephant doing a headstand, with all of its weight supported by the tip of its trunk), any WORKHORSE product should be able to do the job.

A semi tractor-trailer truck with an Army bulldozer (combined weight of over 100,000 pounds) goes over WORKHORSE 2-inch ground protection panels without damaging them

But what if you’re worried about point load applications, such as jacking up a vehicle for maintenance? Instead of spreading your vehicle’s weight evenly spread over four (or more) big tires, what if you concentrated it all on the jack-stand? Now we have a more complicated formula. Now things like the area of the jack-stand and the firmness of the subsurface come into play. In these instances, we recommend placing a supporting plate underneath the jack-stand prior to applying the load. You do this to spread the weight across multiple ribs of the flooring, thereby decreasing the ground pressure (remember the snow shoe example?).

Type of Ground

If you are building over rolling ground or undulating terrain and do not need a flat surface, the 1-inch is best. It is more flexible, and it will bend and conform to the ground.

a rental company box truck drives over WORKHORSE 1-inch ground protection panels installed over grass

However, if you need, to turn a pitted field into something flat, go with the 2-inch—a much more rigid product. However even the 2-inch will not span large ditches and gullies. But it is firmer than the-1 inch.

Irrespective of your choice, you will still need to get all big rocks and mountains of dirt out of your way—work you would have to do with any ground protection solution. You will not need a commercial grade grader with a mechanical leveler. But you will need to clear big plants and make the ground relatively level, so the panels have a fighting chance.

Logistics

Our 1-inch Panels store and ship in half the cubic volume that the 2-inch does. When we ship it on a pallet, you get 32 panels of 2-inch or 64 panels of 1-inch. In other words, you can get twice as much 1-inch on the same pallet.

Pallets of WORKHORSE 1-inch, 2-inch Standard, and 2-inch ICM ready to ship at the factory

When and how does this fact matter? Some construction contractors, for example, have more limited storage and transportation capacity than some larger construction companies. So the 1-inch tends to be more popular with these smaller contractors for that reason—they can pack away twice as much ground protection flooring. If cubic volume is a driving factor for you, the 1-inch Panels are the cheapest and most shipping-friendly option.

Longevity

Because both types can withstand tons of punishment and have been known to last 15+ years, this generally isn't a decision criterion for most customers. Both the 1-inch and the 2-inch are up for the challenge!

Conclusion

In these past four blog posts , we have covered some of the basics that you need to know to choose the right ground protection for the job. To recap:

  • In Part One, we explored your four basic outdoor ground protection options—do nothing; use a fabric floor; put down crushed stone or gravel; or opt for a hard floor.
  • In Part Two, we offered a side-by-side comparison of the three most common hard floor materials for ground protection—plywood, concrete, and plastic.
  • In Part Three, we did a deep dive into the plastic option and examined the three key elements of all plastic ground protection solutions: durability, speed, and security of connection.
  • Finally, in Part Four, we took you on a tour of WORKHORSE Ground Solutions products and discussed when and how (in general) to use our products to solve problems.

We hope this review was helpful!

Our team is standing by to answer your questions and help you make the best ground protection choice for your needs. Visit our Contact Us page or simply type your question in the chat box; we’d love to talk with you!

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