Western Paving now relies on its software for dirt work quantity take-offs for cut and fills. "When you get the final quantity take-off you can tell how much dirt you have to cut or fill," Cassise says. "It basically will give you a complete color printout of the entire site. Cuts are red and fills are blue. It literally redraws the plan showing the cuts and fills on the site."
He says the system involves using a mouse to trace the drawings of the site plan, breaking it down by building pads, parking lots, and other elements. The estimator types in the existing grades, then plugs in the finished elevation figures and the thickness of the base and paving, and the software calculates the cuts, fills, and even the quantity of hot mix.
"It will give you a quantity take-off for everything: cut and fills, asphalt paving, concrete, building pads, and quantities for asphalt and base material," Cassise says.
It also helps with estimates because the contractor can include equipment, equipment rates, hours using each piece, labor, and expected profit in the program. Cassise says that one of the biggest advantages, in addition to the speed, is the software makes it hard for any mathematical errors to slip through.
"As a tool it will eliminate any mathematical mistakes because this gives a printout and you can check your work. It really gives us peace of mind because it takes out the possibility of human error."
More confidence in bids
He says using the computerized system reduces the time needed to do take-offs and estimates by hand by 25%. "Plus it's accurate and easy to double check with printouts available through the system."
The system produces color 8 ½ x 11 printouts showing actual field elevation in a gird format. "So when the field superintendent goes out to the new jobsite he can look at the staking and see if there are any staking errors before the crews start. It's a pretty good tool to help you visualize what you're looking at versus looking over just a set of plans," Cassise says.
Cassise says the company now can bid more projects because it takes less time to do and construct the estimates. "We can do three or four more estimates during that time frame (we normally would have spent doing it by hand) because we can do it quicker."
"The numbers have to be accurate otherwise the bid isn't worth the paper it's written on," Cassise says. "In this day and age when margins are tightening up slightly it enables us to bid jobs tighter if we need to because we know we have more confidence in the figures."
He says Western Paving hasn't abandoned the "hands on" approach, still working numbers "the old way" if it's a small job. "But we try to use the system whenever possible because then we have a printout of everything, and we can put it right in the file," Cassise says. "That's important because a lot of projects we bid today we might not start for three months. And if we do the take-off and estimate by hand we just have a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper when we go back to look at it. With this it's all broken down."
Cassise says the program and its printouts are helpful because Western Paving often will work on a job in phases. "Maybe we'll do all the grading but only half the paving," he says. "With this information we can go back to the office and check the paving numbers and see if the tonnage and numbers are correct, then we can see how much mix we have left to order for when we go back out to finish that job."