Cut and Fill is a common method to adjust a land surface as needed. During this process amounts of soil or other material of the surface, are either added or removed so we manage to form the surface as needed for our projects. In these cases, usually, the extracted material is also used as the fill material, like soil in plenty of earthworks. Earthworks take place in many engineering projects, like roadworks, quarries, mining projects, and more. To be able to calculate the soil volume that will be needed to be removed or added is very important to plan our projects in terms of cost and time. The Civil 3D software of Autodesk is a valuable engineering tool to help us with Cut and Fill calculations with its advanced toolbar. To be able to proceed with such calculations, we need to have trustworthy elevation data of the surface of our project area. Plex-Earth 5D offers quality worldwide terrain models within seconds, which we can use for our volume calculation.
In this case-study tutorial, we will show how to generate a volume surface between a surface model created with Plex-Earth 5D and a proposed Earthwork, using Civil 3D. Then we will use our analysis results to produce a Total Volume Report, a Material Table, and an EarthWork plan discussion.
In our example, we want to expand the extract work in an existing quarry.
In order to do so, we will have to follow the steps here:
Step 1: Import a Terrain Model using Plex-Earth 5D
You can import the terrain model of your project area, following the steps described here.
In our case, we choose to import a terrain model following the outlook of the island our quarry is located.
Select to import your terrain model as a Polyface, so you can quickly proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Convert the Plex-Earth 5D terrain model to a Civil 3D Surface
You can see how to quickly convert a Terrain model to a compatible Civil 3D Surface here.
In our case, we name this surface created from Plex-Earth 5D elevation data, as Base Surface.
We also add as a border the outlook of our area, through the Civil 3D Prospector.
You can also delete the Polyface of Step 1, as it will not be needed in the next steps.
You now have created your base surface.
Step 3: Create the Comparison Surface
To calculate a volume surface, we will need a second surface that will show the changes we want to apply.
In our case, we have a bunch of contour lines showing the proposed earthworks in our area.
We import them with the help of the Import KML/KMZ command of Plex-Earth 5D.
Now, we go to the Civil 3D Prospector and we add a new surface. We name this surface as Proposed Earthworks.
We select the new Surface, expand it, and we right-click the Contours and select Add. We select the Contour lines imported to create our new Proposed Earthworks surface.
Create a new surface using Civil 3D using the above contours. Now we have our Comparison Surface ready.
Step 4: Create a Volume Surface representing the Earthwork Volumes calculated with the Cut and Fill Method
Go to the Analyze tab of Civil 3D and select Volume Dashboard.
On the Panorama Volume Dashboard that pops up, select Create New Volume Surface.
To the Create Surface window that comes next, we set the name of our new Volume Surface. In this case, we name it Cut and Fill. As a Base Surface, we select the Base Surface we created at Step 2, using Plex-Earth 5D's elevation data. As Comparison Surface we select the Proposed Earthworks Surface we created at Step 3. We leave the Cut and Fill Factor to 1.00, assuming that our material keeps the same volume as a fill material after being cut. We also leave the surface Style as Cut and Fill Banding 0.5m Interval to have a colored 2D representation of our Earthworks.
Now, we get back to the Volume Dashboard. Here, we can see that the Cut and Fill Volumes have been calculated in Cubic Meters. We can also see a Net Graph showing graphically the compared amount of Cut and Fill (Red for Cut, Green for Fill).
To achieve a better representation of our Cut and Fill Volume surface into CAD, right-click the Cut and Fill Volume Surface in the Volume Dashboard, and choose Surface Properties. There, we are going to adjust the Volume Surface into the CAD environment by showing two ranges, one standing for Cut and another one for Fill. On the Surface Properties tab that pops up, set the number of ranges as 2. We will use the first range for Cut Volume, so we set the maximum elevation to zero and the color red. For the fill, we set the minimum elevation as zero, and the color green. Then hit Apply and OK.
Now, our Volume Surface representation is ready. We also add a Quick View, for better visualization to check our Earthworks.
Step 5: Create a Cut and Fill Report
To create a Cut and Fill Report, get back to the Volume Dashboard and select Generate Cut/Fill Report.
Civil 3D will create a Full Report you are able to share along with your drawing.
What else we can do here?
Now, we have managed our goal to create a Cut and Fill Volume Surface and create a Cut and Fill Report. However, we can investigate further our Earthworks for more comprehensive project management.
To do, so we will need to create multiple section views along a path in our earthworks field to better plan our cut and fill process. We also want the Cut and Fill materials to be presented in these sections. To do so, first, we create a polyline that will serve as an Alignment.
We draw the Polyline, go to the Home tab, select Alignment from Objects, and then choose our Polyline. We also set the direction as needed.
Now, we will use our alignment to create Sample lines where our sections will be set.
Go to the Home tab, and select Sample Line. Then select the Alignment created and click OK.
Now on the Sample Line tools, select By Range of Stations.
Then on the window that appears, we set the right and left width to 50m and the stations every 20m.
Our sample line is now created.
Now, go to the Home Tab, and select Create Multiple Section Views.
Choose the Alignment and Sample Line you have created and generate the views.
We want also the cut and fill materials to be added to our section views. To do so, we need to create a Material List. Let's go to the Analyze tab to create a Material list. Select Compute Materials.
In the next window, select the alignment and the sample line you have created.
On the next window, set as EG your Base Surface and as DATUM the Proposed Earthworks and click OK. Now the Cut and Fill materials will be included in your section views.
Now, go back to your Section Views. You will see the cut and fill materials included with red and green colors respectively.
We can finish our analysis by using a Volume Report through our sample line. Just go to Analyze tab and select Volume Report.
You will get a report as the following one, showing the volumes of cut and fill at each section.
You can also add a Total Volume Table to your drawing.
Also, a Material Volume Table could be added.
Cut and Fill Method is a powerful analytical approach to managing your earthworks. To be able to use it, you will need elevation information for your field. The ability to have access to accurate high-resolution elevation data instead of having to perform costly surveys to manage your projects is very important and can reduce the design cost and time effectively. Now, with Plex-Earth 5D, you can have access to high-quality elevation points and terrain data within seconds. You can see it for yourself by starting your free trial today.
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