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For earthwork contractors the key to survival is an accurate estimate of earthwork volumes.
Estimating earthwork construction requires many assumptions and unknowns. Because of
this, it is this portion of the construction project that represents the greatest financial risk to
the contractor.

We use the cross section method. The cross section method involves plotting cross sections
of the existing and proposed levels at regular intervals across the project site. For each of
the cross sections, the cut area and the fill area is determined. The volume between each
pair of sections is estimated by multiplying the average cut or fill area of the two sections by
the distance between them. Once these volumes have been calculated for each pair of
sections the total cut and fill volumes are obtained by adding them all together.

But we have some slightly error when we are calculating the result of area and volume. We
doing some research to find out the mistakes which would easily interfere the result. After
our discussion we can conclude that:

Sources of error in calculating earthwork volumes include carrying out area measurements
(either cross-section or contour areas) beyond the limit justified by the field data, calculating
volumes beyond the nearest cubic yard, and failing to correct for curvature when a section
on a horizontal curve (such as a roadway alignment) has a cut on one side and fill on the
other. Mistakes in calculating earthwork volumes include math errors, using the wrong
formula for the volume, mixing cut and fill quantities, and not considering transition sections
when passing from cut to fill. Error can never be eliminated; it only be minimized.
Furthermore, error is cumulative. A daisy chain of a half-dozen 90% accurate measurements
would result in a final answer of only 50% accuracy.

Even if mistakes are avoided and the calculations are mathematically sound, the results are
always approximate. Surveys may not represent the full extent of the excavation area and
the contours established by the survey are interpolations. For example, even a highly
accurate aerial topographic survey is accurate only to within one half of the smallest contour
interval on the map. So if the resultant topographic map utilizes 2-foot contour intervals, its
accuracy will be plus or minus 1 foot.

We should also never forget the difference between precision and accuracy. Precision and
accuracy are two completely different things that even experienced engineers, estimators,
and surveyors can confuse. Precision refers to the number of units used to describe a
measurement. It is a measure of how close together the measurements are, not how close
they are to the correct or true value. A measurement taken to 10 decimal places will be
more precise than one taken to only two decimal places. However, being more precise does
not improve accuracy. Accuracy of a measurement describes how close it is to the “real”
value, which is not necessarily precise. We should be concerned with accuracy, as this will
determine profit or loss on a project. Precision is of little importance except where it actually
increases the accuracy of the measurement.

1) On construction projects it is often necessary to modify the existing ground levels to

create platforms to build on. Accurately calculating the volumes of soil that must be
removed (cut) or added (fill) to create the final ground levels is an essential part of
the planning process.
2) Without an accurate estimate, the contractor will have little or no chance to present
an accurate bid (let alone a winning bid). And without an accurate estimate of
earthwork volumes, the contractor will be unable to properly assign construction
assets or formulate a project schedule.