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Updated: May 14, 2021

If your company does a lot of trench work, you know that planning a trench can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Accounting for shape and slope, benching and sectioning, pipe placement and backfilling can take hours. Then, once you have figured it all out, you still have to enter the data into your estimate for costing. And, if you need to change something, you have go back into the estimate and manually make the needed adjustments. It can be a lot of work, but not if you are using the Trench Profiler tool in SharpeSoft Estimator.

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With the Trench Profiler you can create cross sectional diagrams of your trenches, factoring in width, depth, slope and design - including ‘benched’ and ‘V’ shaped trenches. You can place different backfills at specific depths within the trench and the system automatically calculates the volume for each backfill section and keeps track of spoils. It also accommodates the placement of multiple pipes within the trench and adjusts your fill totals to account for the area displaced by your pipe. Moreover, you can link your fill and pipe sections to the job bid items and the system will automatically load the calculated quantities for those items into your estimate.

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Creating a new trench begins by clicking the Insert button in the lower left corner of the Job menu >Trench Profiles window.

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A series of four windows will open in which you will enter a code and description for your trench, as well as the length and the relative units of measure (or start and end stations if needed).

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When finished, you will be taken to the Edit Trench window, which displays the information you just entered and provides the grid upon which you will draw your trench. As you enter your details in the Trench Sections, Fill Sections and Pipe tabs on the left side of the window, the system draws a cross-section graphic of your trench on the right and automatically calculates the material quantities you will need.

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Trench Sections

You will use the Trench Sections tab to create the basic structure of your trench, starting with the bottom of the trench and building up. To add your first section, click the Insert button directly beneath the tab. The Insert Trench Section window will open. Enter the depth, top and bottom widths, and slope and click OK. Repeat this for each section, building upwards until you reach the top. As you build, the diagram of your trench will take shape in the grid panel on the right.

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Fill Sections

Beginning at the bottom of the trench, you will define the materials that you will use to backfill each trench section. Clicking the Insert button directly below the Fill Sections tab opens the Add Fill Section window. In there you will enter the section description, depth and unit of measure. You will also select a unique color that will identify that section in your graphic (white for bedding, gray for pipe zone, etc.). Next, you will enter the material you will be using by clicking the search button in the Material field and choosing the material in the selection window that opens. If you intend to backfill the section with native material, check the Native Material box and the system will recalculate the spoils accordingly. The window also allows you to enter percentages to account for shrinkage, fluff and waste.

Finally, you will link your fill materials to specific bid items in your job. This is done by either adding and linking a new material to the detail record, or by linking to an existing detail material. Once a fill item is linked, if you increase or deduct amounts in the Edit Trench window, the amounts for the corresponding totals in the Bid Items window will automatically update.

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Once you have entered your fill sections, you will move to the Pipes tab. Clicking the Insert button directly below the tab opens the Insert Pipe window. In there, you will enter the pipe description, dimensions, unit of measure, depth, and position of the pipe for that section. As with the fill sections, you will click the search button in the Materials field to choose the pipe you want, and then select its identifying color. The system allows for both round and elliptically shaped pipe, and you can place multiple pipes at various depths within your trench. As stated above, the system will automatically adjust fill amounts to account for the area displaced by the pipe. Again, you will link your pipe materials to their corresponding bid items in your job by either linking a new material to the detail record or linking to an existing detail material.

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Once you have finished building your trench, it is saved to the Job Trench Profiles window as part of the job you are bidding. However, you can save hours of data entry time in the future by saving your work as a Trench Profile Master.

The Trench Profile Masters table is a library of trench profiles that you have created for past jobs and saved for future use. The next time you need a similar trench for an estimate, you can load the master into the job record, saving you from having to build the trench again from scratch.

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Create a trench profile master You can make any trench in your Job Trench Profiles window a trench profile master. Simply open the window, click on the trench and then click Save Trench Master in the Actions menu or toolbar. It will be saved to your Trench Profile Masters table, where you can place it in any grouping format you choose.

Loading a trench profile master To load a trench profile master into the job you are working on, go to the Job menu and open the Job Trench Profiles window, then click Insert in the toolbar. The Select Trench Profile Masters window will open. Expand the organization tree to locate the profile you want and double click on it. The Edit Trench window for the trench you selected will open. Make any changes you need to fit the job you are working on, link the fill and pipe materials to the bid items in your estimate, and then click OK. A 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 for the job you are working on, and the system will update the affected bid items to reflect the quantities from the trench master you just added.

TAKE TIME TO PRACTICE If you are have not yet used the trench profiler, take some time to practice. We suggest you create a practice trench and have some fun playing around with the Edit Trench window. Use the system Help for more detailed information while building your trench. Of course, if you have questions, feel free to call SharpeSoft technical support for assistance.

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