There’s more science to selecting the right outrigger pads for the job than most people think. That’s why Panora, Iowa-based DICA introduced its FIT Safety System. FIT stands for Fitting, Innovation, and Training.
The first step is choosing the right product for the application. “Three factors must be considered when selecting an outrigger pad: ground conditions, size of outrigger foot, and maximum outrigger load of the equipment. By looking at those three conditions we can recommend the ideal pad that provides high performance load distribution and ergonomic safety,” said Kevin Koberg, director of marketing.
A proprietary Performance Calculator, developed by Kris Koberg, vice president, is used to evaluate these factors when a customer calls to talk to a DICA representative. The ability to recommend a specific product based on the equipment and ground conditions is a significant step beyond traditional static load capacity ratings, which assume unchanging or undefined equipment foot sizes, maximum outrigger loads, and ground bearing pressures, explains Kevin Koberg.
“We’ve done a tremendous amount of testing to know how our outrigger pads perform in a variety of types of soils—everything from sand to gravel to asphalt to compacted soil,” said Koberg. Additionally, DICA is working with several crane manufacturers to obtain data on the maximum outrigger loading allowed for specific crane models to use with the Performance Calculator. “Crane manufacturers see this as a benefit to the user,” he said.
Asked whether the Performance Calculator was available to the user for inputting data directly, Koberg explained: “The process is not self-serve. It’s more consultative, and allows us to interact with the customer in their product selection.”
The second part of the safety system is innovation, which highlights the individual features of various models in the Safety Tech outrigger pad product line. Standard features include engineered thermoplastic construction, the TuffGrip™ handle system, radius edge and corner design, and industrial grade texturing.
The (engineered) thermoplastic material is more durable than wood, fiberglass, or aluminum. It is also significantly lighter than other materials—1/7th the weight of steel and 1/4th the weight of aluminum.
Designed to reduce ergonomic injuries, TuffGrip handles help prevent back injuries by limiting lifting to no more than 50 pounds per person. Koberg explained that if one of their pads is intended to be lifted by two people it will come with two handles, or more according to the weight of the pad. The handles also maintain their rigidity when the outrigger pad is lifted preventing pinched or crushed hands. Likewise, radius edges reduce pinch points and radius corners eliminate sharp ends that can cause puncture injuries. And, manufactured abrasive surfaces on the pads minimize the effects of hydraulic fluid and water, provides increased traction between the outrigger foot and pad, and reduces the chance of personnel or equipment slipping on wet or oily outrigger pads.
The Training element of the FIT Safety System provides practical instruction in the basic principles of carrying, moving, and storing outrigger pads. Currently, the company’s website features 17 commons sense reminders. Examples include:
• Never use outrigger pads or cribbing that are smaller than the outrigger foot itself. Doing so will concentrate, rather than spread the load, creating a point loaded setup that could fail.
• Outrigger feet must be smooth and free from debris in order to be stable and achieve solid contact with a Safety Tech outrigger pad.
• To create a better setup, poorly compacted soil conditions should be improved by utilizing appropriate soil compaction measures.
• Do not under any circumstances use Safety Tech Outrigger Pads to span or set up over depressions or voids of any type. Failure to comply can result in serious injury or death in addition to significant property and equipment damage.
• Proper foot placement is critical to proper load distribution. The outrigger foot must be placed squarely in the center of each Safety Tech Outrigger Pad.
In the future, DICA plans to develop additional training materials to address these and other training topics.
“All three elements of the FIT Safety System work together to provide owners, safety staff, site managers and operators the knowledge, tools and confidence they need to create a safe outrigger pad setup,” said Koberg.