E&C’s interview with Bigfoot Outrigger Pads, an American family business and only major manufacturer of both custom composite and wooden outrigger pads.
E&C: Tell us about the different uses for outrigger pads.
- Utility Trucks
- Concrete Pumps
- Tree Trimmers
- Fire Trucks
- Any Type of Aerial Equipment that has an outrigger system
E&C: What makes Bigfoot outrigger pads different from the others out there?
BF: Bigfoot is the only major manufacturer of both wood and composite outrigger pads. Our outrigger pads are made in the USA from USA sourced materials. We are the longest running (since 1991) American in-house manufacturer of custom composite outrigger pads. This is 30 years of hands on quality control.
Jeff is not just a business owner. He has firsthand industry knowledge and experience with over 18 years as a lineman working with cranes and stacking steel and in a man basket as well as being a military veteran. This gives Jeff a *personal understanding of the needs of his customers. Working in the field and being a crane operator, as well as working with critical picks, is experience you need to learn hands-on, not just by reading in a book from a marketing point of view. Bigfoot also works with an exceptional local engineering company to determine safe ground-bearing capacities. His passion for his product isn’t about slogans and catchy marketing, it’s about safety for the hard-working men and women in the industry.
Bigfoot’s custom composite blend has been formulated for the maximum compressive load ratings. This American material has been OEM tested and approved since 1991 with zero returns. In fact, we believe so strongly in our composite that we guarantee it for life.
We put a lot of research and hard work into creating solutions that maximize the stability of your job. It’s why we created our own custom blend of lifetime guaranteed composite and use premium Baltic Birch for our wood pads.
Jeff has been manufacturing outrigger pads for the family business for more than 20 years, working with engineers and fully understanding real field conditions and the wide range of variables to work safely is essential.
As a veteran, and witnessing the American jobs getting pulled out of the country, friends and family out of jobs in the mid-1990s, using American materials and employees has not always been easy, but it has always been the right thing to do. Bigfoot will not deviate from who or what we are, an American family manufacturer.
E&C: What is your most popular outrigger pad? For what application(s)?
BF: It is an honor to build both wood and custom composite as well as providing American Steel for the hard-working personnel in the field to work safely.
All cranes have counterweights, but there is a limit to how heavy they can be due to transportation and setup considerations. Outrigger pads were created to stabilize equipment by making the footprint bigger with an extendable outrigger system. After deploying the outrigger system, installing outrigger pads underneath the outriggers will expand their point of contact with the ground and displace the pressure from the equipment through the outrigger pad to the ground.
E&C: Are they customizable?
BF: Bigfoot offers standard and stock sizes in both custom composite and wood. We also make custom outrigger pads, and we can engrave the customers’ logo and phone number on their pads. Handles can be internal, rope, or metal chain. We have also done custom colors on request. Bigfoot can tailor our products to what works best for our customers. Our standard sizes run anywhere from 12” x 12” to 60” x 60” square or round and from 1” to 4” thick.
Our wood pads have been used in the field for decades and have been proven to be durable and dependable. That is because we use Baltic Birch, a wood that is lighter and more durable than other hardwoods. This premium wood gives our pads a life span of up to 10 years with typical usage. We make these in 18”X18” @ 2 inch to 60”X60” @ 4 inch in both square and round. Another option is our Patriot pad which is 1-1/2” composite on the bottom and 2” wood on top. The rigidity of the wood on top displaces the weight through the pad. The composite pad on the bottom gives the pad more flexibility on spanning small ground imperfections and resisting moisture. All Bigfoot Custom Composite Pads carry a Lifetime Guarantee
Our BIG GRIP can be applied to any of our custom composite outrigger pads. Having the BIG GRIP span the entire surface of the pad allows you to use the BIG GRIP Wedge and Cribbing to maximize stability on uneven ground conditions.
Use the pad face down and the teeth bite into the surface area of contact providing great stability on ice, snow, mud and other slippery surfaces. When our Big Grip pad is used face up, the teeth bite into cribbing/dunnage or another Big Grip pad faced down to reach the height needed to level the crane or equipment.
E&C: Regarding the application of outrigger pads, do you have any general suggestions for users out there? Any common mistakes that you see over the years?
BF: Outrigger pads are a tool of safety that can be used with any equipment that has outriggers, down jacks or stabilizers. It is a must for stability when a piece of equipment – such as a crane – lifts loads or personnel aloft in accordance with OSHA/ASME. 50% of crane failure or total collapse is from improper use of outriggers. A pro-active safety approach is using outrigger pads on all set ups. Read more about OSHA regulations here: https://www.outriggerpads.com/osha-asme/
The outrigger pads will displace & reduce the PSI the ground “sees” from the point of contact of the outrigger/shoe/float/pontoon on the equipment. The outrigger pads will also remind the personnel at the jobsite to make sure the outrigger system is being used & used correctly.
Bigfoot is the first company to manufacture safety orange. This was done to address tripping hazards & make sure the outrigger system is deployed by bringing attention to the operator & other personnel on the jobsite. You can learn more on our website, where we have also listed ground bearing capacities of various soil types.
E&C: What general crane advice can you offer?
BF: Six Points for Proper Use
- The set up & leveling is critical on any set up or with any style of outrigger system on the equipment. As with any safety tools, outriggers and outrigger pads must be used according to their manufacturer’s instructions. About 50% of all crane lifting accidents are caused by improper use of outriggers.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s chart on level & grade % allowable for equipment to be set up.
- Get recent soil conditions. Getting a known ground bearing capacity (GBC) will help determine what type and size of outrigger pad will work best. In general, the softer the ground, the larger and thicker the pad that is needed.
- Check for and know where utilities are overhead and underground. Maintain proper clearances from overhead power lines. Find out the voltage of the overhead power lines and determine the minimum approach distance for qualified and unqualified personnel.
- Equally important is Knowing the locations of underground electrical lines, pipelines, vaults, and other voids. The force of an outrigger can damage them and may even punch into a void and cause the crane to tip.
- Outrigger pads must not be used to bridge any gaps or span over voids. They are designed and manufactured for the purpose of distributing loadings, not to support the full force of an outrigger without having ground beneath them.
A Good Rule of Thumb – Ground-bearing capacity may not be available for every job site. In those cases, I suggest following a rule I learned from my father and have used for more than 20 years in the field. If you are working on Grade A soil, (the most solid classification), an outrigger pad should be at least three times the square surface area of the outrigger’s shoe or float. If soil conditions are less than Grade A, create a bigger footprint using outrigger pads and cribbing.
After the equipment is set up and leveled per its manufacturer’s specifications, make a dry run with just the boom. Have a spotter check that the outrigger pads aren’t shifting, sliding, or sinking into the ground. Then check to see that the equipment is still level. If there is any issue, stop, stow the boom, and add cribbing, blocking, or more outrigger pads. The support must distribute the maximum load generated on each outrigger by the pick or lift and keep the equipment level.
STRENGTH / STABILITY / SAFETY!