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May 19, 2021

5 Ways to Improve Site Balance

Achieving site balance on grading projects is much easier with the right tools and processes!
Tracking site balance doesn't have to be hard! TraceAir makes it easy.
The Keys to Site Balance

Last week, TraceAir hosted a webinar to discuss best practices in managing site balance, where we discussed why site balance is important and what makes it so challenging to calculate. Legacy methods, such as traditional aerial topos, soil borings, and hiring multiple consultants, are inefficient and cost-prohibitive to managing site balance effectively. Watch the recording of our webinar to learn more or continue reading to get a few recommendations.
1. Fast, cheap, regular topos

Old school methods like aerial and hand topographical surveys are not fast or cheap, and that's why they can't be done regularly. Drones are without a doubt the most reliable and affordable method of capturing aerial survey data, so project teams can survey as often as weekly (or more!). It's a matter of preference whether project teams want to fly drones themselves or hire a third party, but either way, drones provide accurate project data quickly and cheaply.
2. Fast, accurate calculations

Once regular topo data is available, the project team must be equipped with site intelligence software that enables them to run cut & fill to design calculations with a reasonable degree of speed and accuracy. Software also allows them to visualize the results for collaboration. By tracking site balance weekly, teams can identify problems early and correct them before they become expensive. Accurate cut/fill calculations make it possible to balance even the largest grading projects. A small hint here is to always exclude the finished areas of the project from the cut & fill to design calculations to improve the accuracy of site balance number.
3. Plan for remedial grading

Complicated projects with massive amounts of remedial grading require a different approach. Basic cut/fill to design calculations do not account for over excavation, removals and keyways. These projects benefit from more complex analysis that calculates:

  • Volumes to date (raw and remedial)
  • Historical bulk/shrink to date
  • Volumes remaining (raw and remedial)
  • Balance prediction
These calculations require multiple inputs of design documents, which brings us to our next point....
4. Design in 3D

3D models of rough grading plans, proposed remedial (corrective) grading plans, and remedial as-builts make managing complicated site balance calculations possible. The initial cost to develop 3D models is a lot to bear, but the cost of a dirt imbalance can be far greater! It costs between $10 and $30 per cubic yard to import or export dirt. Just a 5,000 cubic yard imbalance can cost $150,000, not including the cost of a schedule delay! Not to mention the cases when exporting dirt is prohibited on the project... When it comes to large grading projects, the cost of 3D design is a worthy investment.
5. Use one source of truth

We've heard from many owners that one of their biggest challenges is reconciling multiple site balance estimates from various consultants and sources. The primary reason for discrepancies is that different consultants are using different inputs, such as existing and proposed grades, boundaries, etc. Using consistent inputs will result in less confusion for owners.
We want to help!

At TraceAir, helping our customers solve their biggest project challenges, like site balance, is our passion. Reach out to our team to learn more about our proprietary software that includes easy cut/fill calculation tools or customized site balance reports.
Want to get started? Reach out to learn more!
We take topographical surveys captured by drones (ours or yours) and process the data overnight.
What is TraceAir?
Project Document Overlays
Our team integrates your project documents (all formats, including CAD, PDF, vector, and raster) to allow you to check against the most recent as-builts to ensure no errors.
Site Balance Tools
Track your site balance and minimize waste with our cut/fill tools. Our platform also accounts for soil bulk/shrink and backfill.
Communication & Collaboration
The entire project team can access TraceAir from anywhere. No app needed, TraceAir works flawlessly from any smartphone or laptop.
3D Topographical Surveys
TraceAir is a user-friendly, collaborative platform that provides visual and volumetric site intelligence to the entire project team.
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