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Earthworks estimating software assists engineers forecast costs related to earthwork projects like surveying, landscaping, and excavating. Like general construction estimating software, each estimate is now created by automatically calculating costs for labor, materials, and equipment necessary for a potential project, then using those numbers to develop and submit a professional, polished bid. Notably, this software also calculates the potential volume of earthmoving on a job, such as from cut and fill operations.
Sometimes referred to as earthworks takeoff software, these estimating solutions use available blueprints and schematics of the jobsite in order to calculate the total area of the project, cut and fill amounts, and other specifics. Previously, earthworks estimations were performed by hand with slide rules and grid cells, leaving a lot of room for human error. Since earthworks are necessary before most construction or infrastructure projects can begin, at least to some degree, it’s important to get accurate estimates on everything from topsoil to backfill as soon as possible to keep the entire project on schedule and on budget.
Earthworks takeoff software provides many useful advantages to estimating. Some benefits include:
The first benefit of earthworks estimating is being able to plan out projects from start to finish with greater accuracy. Earthwork services are necessary before starting a wide range of construction jobs, such as:
Before any sitework on these civil engineering projects can begin, the takeoff process is necessary to calculate all possible measurements. From drawing sheets to detailed cross sections, these detailed documents can indicate just how much earthmoving is required, the volume of materials necessary, and other important variables regarding the work.
For example, earthworks excavation software has tools to digitize takeoff into a 3D model to reveal possible complications with existing elevations so solutions can be identified in advance. And site drawings can be converted into CAD files with real GPS data to reflect actual locations on the entire worksite.
Previously, earthworks estimates had to be calculated by hand. Then, basic programs such as Excel allowed for streamlined estimations to be made with formulas. Those numbers were then used in bids to predict job costs. However, human error still caused mistakes to happen. As a result, the actual cost for the project could wind up significantly higher than the initial estimate indicated. Use earthworks estimating software to determine the details and costs of a specific project in order to perfect bids and proposals.
User-friendly digital takeoff tools can ease area and perimeter calculations by showing exactly where various property lines end or intersect. Now, estimates can be completed in minutes instead of hours or days while accounting for labor and equipment costs. And with more accurate estimates, more projects can be completed on or under budget.
Accidents happen in earthworks, though they don’t always have to. Incidents from over-excavation or unstable slopes at high elevations can be avoided with proper planning and adherence to local or federal laws.
Earthwork projects require precision. Quantity estimation is necessary to ensure soil removed matches available fills. A single error during this step can endanger the project and risk the stability of the soil.
There are also safety regulations to consider when performing sitework to prepare a bid. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very strict rules regarding how to safely operate earthworks projects based on soil classification. During the bidding process, you need to be aware of these different regulations when encountering:
Failing to thoroughly investigate and take these different soils into account could delay excavation to prevent collapse when sloping, shoring, or shielding. By utilizing earthworks estimating software, these factors can be addressed early on, reducing the possibility of accidental collapse, worker injuries, and project delays alike. In addition to addressing OSHA regulations, software can adjust for international soil classification systems as well.
Finally, earthworks estimating software can lead to lower project costs overall and higher ROI. With precise estimates and bids, earthwork engineers can lower overall costs on projects. By anticipating every aspect of the project in advance, civil engineers and contractors can avoid unexpected expenses.
For instance, working a site which covers a wide area may result in working amongst different soil classifications. Geotechnical engineers know the tools used for moving coarse-grained soils can’t be used for handling peat. Since certain soil classifications need to be worked by specific equipment, that means adjusting the estimate to include more equipment for each classification at the location. This can further influence the total costs based on worker experience with that equipment and availability of rentals if necessary.
Additionally, in-depth crew analysis can reveal who should be assigned to each earthworks project for the best results. Historical data from past jobs can show who has experience with specific equipment, elevations, or soil classifications. This information can let you know from the start whether you need additional labor or specialty contractors to complete work.
The total costs of earthwork estimating software is largely based on whether you want an on-premise or cloud-based solution. SaaS estimating software pricing averages between $45 per month and $300 per month. There are also one-time perpetual licenses available for on-premise implementation for a set number of users or computers.
Costs may increase to accommodate training classes, annual upgrades, or real-time IT support services. Some systems can be self-installed while others require professional setup, further adding to total costs.
The best software options are designed to fit the budget of every estimator. Several options are able to integrate with all-in-one general contracting software for additional functionality like invoicing and accounting.