top of page

SharpeSoft Estimator Fast Trax 7/7: Easy Steps for Creating Trench Profiles

Updated: Jul 12, 2023

Scroll down for 4 helpful videos!

Configure the Units of Measure and Materials Table

Before you begin creating a trench profile, volume equivalents and weight conversions must be entered in the Units of Measure and Materials tables. The Trench Profile window needs these values to calculate material use.

Both tables should be checked to ensure they contain the following:

Units of Measure table

Go to: Defaults menu > Company Configuration > Units of Measure

The 'Corresponding Cubic Measurement' column in this window must be configured prior to entering your trench profiles. In that column, you will enter the volume equivalent for a linear measurement already entered.

As an example, if you use feet or yards as a measurement, you would enter Cubic Feet and Cubic Yards as the volume equivalents for these units of measure. Enter the cubic volumes for the most popular linear measures you use when constructing your trenches. These equivalents are needed to calculate your trench areas and volumes.

Common items to include:

  • For linear feet (LF) units of measure you would add "Cubic Feet" (CF).

  • For the meters (M) you would add "Cubic Meters" (M3).

  • For yards (YD) you would add "Cubic Yards" (CY).

Do not try to mix units of measure, such as use cubic yards (CY) for the linear feet (LF). This will produce incorrect results. Match only like units of measure (inches to cubic millimeters, etc.).

Materials table

Go to: Tables menu > Materials

If you buy a trench material by weight, but will use the material by volume, you must enter a conversion weight for the original material. As an example, pipe-bedding sand is purchased by the ton, but it would be used as trench filler by the cubic yard and have a conversion weight of 1.56 tons per cubic yard. The conversion weight converts cubic yards to tons. Therefore, if you enter 1.56 in the Conversion Weight column, you are stating that there is 1.56 tons of that material in every cubic yard. Be sure to add conversions between common units of measures you intend to use when building trench profiles. These conversions would include:

  • 12 inches = 1 foot

  • 3 feet = 1 yard

  • 1 foot = 0.3048 meters

  • 1 yard = 0.914 meters

Review the Trench Profiles Window

Go to: Job menu > Trench Profiles

This window allows you to design the various trenches that will be needed for a job, including their width, depth, design, and shape (i.e. ‘benched’ or ‘V’ shaped). The profiler will also accommodate the placement of pipes at various locations within a trench, and allows detail to be entered by station locations.

You can place different backfills at specified depths, and the system automatically calculates the volume for each backfill section and keeps track of spoils. The fill and pipe sections can be linked to the bid item detail, automatically loading the quantity calculated by the Profiler into the estimate. If you change the fill or pipe quantities in this window, those amounts will automatically be updated in any linked bid item in the detail record.

Create Trench Profile

To create a new trench profile you will click Insert at the bottom left of the Trench Profiles window. The Insert Trench Profile window will open.

The wizard consists of four windows. In the first window (right), enter a Code and Description and the Start and End station numbers (if needed). When finished, click Next.

In the second window you will enter the unit of measure used for the trench width and depth, such as LF (linear foot). Either enter the UM, or click search to choose a UM from the Select Unit of Measure window. When finished, click Next.

If you did not use station start and end numbers in the first window, you will enter the Length of the trench in the field provided in the third window. If you used station numbers in the first window, the system will have calculated the length of the trench and automatically inserted the number into this field.

In the last window, you will enter the Volume UM for your trench fills. This is usually in cubic yards or cubic meters. Either enter the unit measure, or click search to choose a UM from the Select Unit of Measure table. If the unit measure you are trying to enter is not recognized by the system, the select window will automatically open and you can enter it there and then select it for your trench. Once your entry has been accepted, click Finish.

Once you have finished with the Trench Wizard you will be taken to the Edit Trench Profile window where you will begin entering your trench height, depth, and the various fills and pipe it will contain.

Edit Trench

The Edit Trench Profile window consists of a top panel with the trench setup details, a graphical view of the trench, and three tables for editing the trench makeup (Trench Sections, Fill Sections, and Pipes).

Trench Sections

Starting from the bottom of your trench and working your way up, insert one or more trench sections to define the excavation of the trench. Each Trench section consists of Depth, Top Width, Bottom Width, and Slope.

Click Insert directly beneath the Trench Sections tab.

This will open the Insert Trench Section window.

After entering the depth, you can enter your top and bottom width and the slope will automatically calculate, or you can enter the bottom width and slope and the top width will automatically calculate. Click OK when finished. An outline of your trench will now appear in the Edit Trench window. Continue to add additional trench sections as needed.

Fill Sections

Starting again from the bottom of your trench, insert fill sections to define each layer of backfill material. Click the Insert button directly below the Fill Sections tab and the Add Fill Section window will open. For each layer, begin by entering the material description and the depth, changing the UM if necessary. You should also select a unique color for each fill section, which will be used on-screen and in the report to identify this fill section.

Select or enter the code for the backfill material. If you are using native material, check the Native Material box to hide the material selection and recalculate the spoils accordingly. Be sure that the correct bid item is also specified.

  • You should navigate to the bid item detail where you want the trench materials to be inserted before inserting a new trench profile. This is because the currently open detail item will be used as the default bid item in this window. However, to link a material to a different item, click search next to the bid item label to bring up your bid item tree and pick the bid item where you want this fill material to be entered.

If you like, you can enter a Waste factor (for example, to compensate for over digging) and/or a Shrinkage/Fluff factor to account for compaction. The Weight field represents the density of the material, based on the material’s UM and the trench’s Volume UM (for example tons per cubic yard). If your selected material had a default conversion weight assigned to it in the Materials table, the value will already be entered, although you can change it to whatever you like. Although the quantity calculation uses this weight by default, you may need to use a volume measurement for your material, based strictly on the cross-sectional area. For example, if your fill material is concrete, you can just click the ‘Area/Volume’ selection in the ‘Calculate quantity by’ box and it will calculate in cubic yards instead of tons. Click OK to continue.

If you have more than one vendor price for the selected fill material in your Materials table, you will then be prompted to select which vendor price you want to use. Although you can change the price and/or the vendor from the bid items later, select the vendor you want to plug into the bid item for now.

  • You can create multiple fill sections with the same material type, linked to the same detail record in your bid item detail. This will allow you, for example, to create one fill section for bedding and another for the pipe zone, even if they are filled with the same material. You can even link fill sections from different trench profiles to the same detail line. If you do select a material that already exists in this bid item, you will need to decide if you want to create a separate material record in the bid item or to link to the existing material record.

Continue adding fill layers, opening the Add Fill Section window for each layer of fill, until you reach the top of your trench.


Adding pipe sections will account, not only for the quantity of pipe needed, but also for the displacement of the backfill materials. To add pipe to this profile, click the Insert button directly below the Pipes tab.

After entering a description for the pipe, specify the pipe’s location, by entering its distance from the subgrade (to flow line) and its distance from the center, and the pipe’s dimensions, by entering its inside diameter (or height and width for elliptical pipe) and wall thickness.

Note that the UM you specify for the inside diameter is also used for the wall thickness.

Select a color for the pipe and then enter or select the pipe material itself. In the same way you specified the bid item for your fill materials, make sure your pipe material is linked to the correct bid item.

Click OK when finished.

Continue adding pipes as needed, opening the Add Pipe Section window for each. When you are finished, the Edit Trench window will contain all of the trench elements.

The quantities of each fill section are displayed to the left of the trench, and the depths are displayed to the right. Click OK to return to the Trench Profiles window.

  • You can easily duplicate an existing trench by using the Copy and Paste buttons in the Toolbar. In this way, you can easily account for differences in various sections of the same pipeline by creating a trench profile for just one section and then simply copying and pasting it for each additional section, making whatever changes might be necessary to each pasted section, such as station numbers, length, and depth.

When you review a Bid Item Detail with any linked trench materials (fill and/or pipes), you will see a small trench icon next to the quantities for your materials.

This indicates that the quantity is being calculated by one or more trench profiles.

If you double click on this icon, it will bring up the trench profile it is linked to, or, if you have more than one trench linked to a single detail record, it will bring up a list of trenches linked to that detail and you will double click on the trench you want to review.

Saving and Loading Trenches

Go to: Job menu > Trench Profiles

You can save your trenches to the Trench Profile Masters table and use them in future jobs, saving you the trouble of having to re-create the same trench each time.

Saving a trench

In the Job Trench Profiles window, click on the trench you want to save. In the toolbar, click ‘Save the selected Trench Profile’. The Save Trench Profile Master window will open. Click the node icons to expand the navigation tree. Click to select the trench you need and then click Select in the window’s lower right corner.

The Insert from Trench Profile Master window will open, prompting you to enter a new code for the trench.

Once you enter a code and click OK, the trench will be copied into the Job Trench Profile window.

From there, double click on the trench to open it, and then adjust your fills and pipes to the bid items in your current job.


Getting started with SharpeSoft is a breeze. Whether you are looking to create a new job or add one, SharpeSoft has got your back. We have the tools and expertise necessary to help you make it happen without breaking a sweat.

You can continue on to other helpful Fast Trax articles below. To learn more about this particular subject, consult your system Help manual, or just give us a call and we’ll be glad to walk you through it.

109 views0 comments


bottom of page