Sterling Honored with Chicago Innovation Award for Site Access Mats

Nov. 6, 2018
Sterling won a Chicago Innovation Award for its TerraLam site access mats during the recent 17th annual Chicago Innovation Awards in Chicago.

Sterling won a Chicago Innovation Award for its TerraLam site access mats during the recent 17th annual Chicago Innovation Awards in Chicago.

"Five hundred and nineteen organizations were nominated for this year's awards," said Luke Tanen, Executive Director of the Chicago Innovation Awards. "As a group, these nominees generated over $3.4 billion in new revenues from their new products and services, along with the creation of over 432 patents. The 25 winners represent the best from this impressive group." 

In addition, Sterling also was recently presented with a 2018 Illinois Sustainability Award for its commitment to environmentally sustainable products and practices related to the TerraLam Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) mats.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center for our commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment during construction and maintenance of North America’s energy infrastructure,” said Carter Sterling, chief executive officer of Sterling. “TerraLam reflects our core commitment to foster harmony between the environment and construction with world-class site access solutions.”

TerraLam Cross-Laminated Timber mats use sustainable southern yellow pine to create a site access mat that is said to be lighter, faster and longer lasting. The company's on-site experts work directly with companies and contractors to offer a combination of consultation, products and services.

The mats are used primarily in the electric transmission and distribution, oil and gas pipeline and civil construction fields. Site access mats are used to protect sensitive or undisturbed soil in rights-of-way from tires and tracks of heavy construction equipment.

"We don't wake up each day trying to deliver innovation or to be innovative.  Our innovation is simply the result of listening to our customer's challenges and finding solutions," Sterling says. "We have become a company of entrepreneurs and created a culture where people are encouraged to try new things. This award really validates that what we are doing is substantial and game-changing for the site access industry." 

CLT panels were developed in the 1990s and used in structural construction. Sterling's challenge was evolving existing CLT standards to the site access industry while increasing production capacity to fulfill demand.

TerraLam was born out of extensive research and development and testing. To keep the mats light yet strong, Sterling selected renewable southern yellow pine with an optimized adhesive system for their next generation CLT mat. The strength and durability of this engineered product has been validated by independent laboratories including the USDA Forest Products Laboratory and San Diego State University.

Because TerraLam mats are constructed with farm-raised SYP, they are a vastly more sustainable option than traditional hardwood mats. SYP grows to maturity in as little as 20 years, a dramatic difference to the 80 years required for hardwoods such as Oak and Maple, which are traditionally used for bolted mats.

Sterling also developed an automated manufacturing system to dramatically scale up the production process to meet the demand of the site access marketplace. Previously, dozens of CLT structural panels could be produced every day; however, Sterling's automated manufacturing facility can create more than 1,000 CLT mats every day.

Sterling also deviated from the traditional structural CLT practices by developing Cross-Grain Technology™, which means changing the direction of the board layering to increase the wear characteristics required for heavy construction equipment. By changing the direction of the grain to match the direction of traffic, Sterling was able to maintain high strength performance while significantly improving durability and expected product life. 

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