Maxwell Erwin is a Project Manager at Construction Engineering Consulting Group, Inc. in Chico, CA. He has used AGTEK for the past 7 years and recently upgraded his system to the new integrated Gradework, Highway, Materials, and Underground. The new modules work together to eliminate data duplication and create efficiencies for the entire takeoff process – from length, areas, and counts, to cut/fill volumes, to utility trenches. The integration also streamlines the model building process and adds the ability to create and export alignments for stringless curb and gutter machines.
We are a consultant that works for contractors and most of our contractors are doing heavy civil work – highways, bridges, airports, schools, those kinds of things. We do some private work as well – housing subdevelopments, but most of it is big public work jobs.
We’ve used AGTEK for about 7 years and the Sitework 4D software was good, but it was a challenge to work on the big publics works projects with complicated phasing. In Sitework 4D, you would put in a report region to say this is Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, etc. you would get your dirt summarized by phase very easily, but your sectional areas and stripping areas weren’t cut up that way so you had to do a lot data manipulation to break down those quantities by phase.
In the last couple of months, using Gradework 4D and doing our Materials First in the integrated Materials, we can put in all of our sectional areas, stripping areas, new paving areas, removal areas, etc. and then use the phase regions in Materials to cut up all of those sectional areas and summarize them by phase. We then stage those to the earthwork model as report regions that summarize all the dirt by phase. That has been a game changer in terms of the speed and efficiency for us to do a big earthwork takeoff that’s broken up into multiple phases of work.
The kicker on top of that is that in the last couple years, we’ve been getting involved in design-build projects and one of the things that’s inevitable in design-build is that things change. They may come in and change a pavement section thickness or they may change to the phasing and we can make those changes so easily in Gradework now. Before, in Sitework, we had to manually adjust everything, but in Gradework, we can put in our new phase region and have everything (dirt, materials, underground) recalculate and update – it is incredible.
Yes. Typically, we create a class for all of our proposed pavement, removal pavement, and temporary pavement (if needed). We create other classes for all the linear footage and count elements like curb and gutter, metal beam guardrail, signs and posts. Then we can send each of those classes to the appropriate phase and sectional or stripping area. We used to go in [in Sitework 4D] and put all our report regions in by phase and then we would draw in our paving sectionals and stripping areas named by phase. It was so time consuming. Gradework makes that a breeze now.
The projects we do are usually pretty large and the turnaround times are pretty short so sometimes what we do is have 1 person build out the horizonal COGO and put in all of the pavement sectionals and removal areas in while another person is digitizing cross sections. Then I can easily marry the files up in Gradework and apply my sections – then I just review everything for accuracy.
I’m pretty fresh to the new Underground. I just completed my first full job doing storm drains and sewer lines in the integrated Underground and I loved it – it was so cool. Previously, you would go into Sitework and you would build your trench and get your trench excavation quantities and then you’d go into Materials and put in your backfill quantities. You had to look across both of those reports to get the full picture and to fix a mistake you had to start over with your trench. Now, from Underground, I can say I want to compare these trenches to the existing grade or, no, they are actually going to come in and rough grade it first so I want to compare to the design grade. I can easily make that change and the quantities update instantly. It’s going to make our Underground takeoffs so much more efficient.
Another thing that Juan [one of the AGTEK trainers] showed me during the training is staging to the lowest surface and then getting the trench quantity. I thought, wow how did this not exist before? What a great feature.
I have a lot of experience in the earthwork software and so what was great is that Juan [one of the AGTEK trainers] personalized the training for me to focus on the things are new in the software and the things I didn’t know. Mostly, we focused on Underground utilities and the new Materials features.
Sitework 4D and Gradework look and feel very similar so you are really mostly learning the new features and the new integrated Materials and Underground. But, the good news is that the new integrated Materials and Underground operates whole lot more like Sitework than the previous versions did. So, if you know how to use Sitework 4D, then the integrated Gradework 4D is very similar. The learning curve was pretty simple for me, but I am a technology person. Our whole team got migrated over to the new system pretty easily though.
The consistency with which all 4 programs [Gradework, Highway, Materials, Underground] speak to each other is awesome. You could have a situation where you complete your earthwork takeoff and go into Materials to snap all your curb and gutter and do paving areas and you realize you made a mistake; the sectional thickness was supposed to be 2’ not 1.5’. In Sitework 4D, I’d have to go back and make a change in a different file and hope I kept it all consistent. Having the ability to fix mistakes in whichever module you’re in, and hit apply and have the program update your sectionals, stripping sections, and materials sections to match is much more efficient and accurate.
Also, the exporting of KMZ files from Materials now is awesome. Picking colors and hatch patterns and exporting those in a way that is really consistent and that clients can really drill into – they can click on an area and know immediately what the materials area and what thickness we used. They can know exactly what I have done by clicking around in that file and it is a really nice visual.