FAIRFIELD — Rob Crawford of Macro Plastics easily maneuvered a 38-pound, 4-foot-high, bow-shaped gray plastic panel that can hold up to 84,000 pounds per square foot.
It’s strong enough to hold the weight of everything from cranes to trucks. Crawford showed how the panels can be locked together using nothing more than a crowbar to turn the locking mechanism.
“It fits together just like a puzzle,” Crawford said.
The I-Trac panels can be assembled to form a temporary road or heavy equipment staging area. Macro Plastics rents them out from its Fairfield plant.
Computer giant Microsoft recently used the panels to form a 10,000-square-foot truck unloading area at an employee rollout event for the Windows 8 operating system. Macro Plastics workers on Thursday washed Seattle mud off the panels with a pressure hose, a job that, given the number of panels, could take a few days. Then the panels will be ready for the next job.
Macro Plastics got into the temporary floor and matting business about three years ago and manufactures the panels in Kentucky. But it needed a West Coast location for sales and rentals. The Fairfield plant has been a rental depot for three months.
Not every customer needs temporary flooring as heavy duty as the I-Trac. Macro Plastics also sells and rents its smaller, lighter Supa-Trac.
Crawford has a framed photo in his office of the Supa-Trac panels forming a temporary floor for an outdoor event in a grassy, sandy area at the University of California, Santa Barbara. On top of the gray panels sit dozens of white, fold-out chairs.
Macro Plastics came to Fairfield in 1989 and its main focus has long been manufacturing plastic agricultural bins. It made regional news in July 2011 when about 15,000 containers burned in a six-alarm fire in the outdoor storage area, sending a pillar of black smoke high above the industrial park on Huntington Drive near Travis Air Force Base.
Supa-Trac panels came in handy in the aftermath. Crawford said the company used the panels to create a temporary storage area for its agricultural bins while repairing the fire-damaged, concrete storage area.
Crawford is quick to come up with still more examples of the product in action. A vineyard in Fresno County uses the panels to form a path for forklifts that transport bins of grapes, he said. Before, workers had to keep wetting down the dirt to keep dust from forming as the forklifts drove along. Now Supa-Trac panels are the dust deterrent.
Panels have formed temporary floors in stadiums during concerts, Crawford said. They have formed temporary walkways for outdoor events.
The sky is the limit on how the panels can be used, he said.
Macro Plastics is sending 90,000 panels from its Kentucky and Florida locations to storm-ravaged New Jersey. Crawford said they will be used to form temporary flooring for tents used in the relief effort.
Macro Plastics has its corporate headquarters in Fairfield. The Fairfield plant runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Plant Manager Chuck Bond said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.