So, you want to count trucks?

It seems there is always a lively discussion about how to quantify additional earthwork on a project. While established standards may stipulate that payment will be based on compacted, ‘in place’ volume determined by survey, someone always wants to use a different method for determining quantities of material removed or imported, loose or compacted – and it seems there is always someone who wants to count truckloads.

There are several problems with counting truckloads. First, of course, someone has to be present whenever the trucks are coming and going in order to count them (“Hey! No bathroom breaks!”). Then, the counter needs to be able to differentiate between a truck he has just seen and another one that is in the same vicinity (“Hey! That looks like the same truck. The driver just went around behind the building and came out again. That’s cheating!”). In some cases the counter may need to determine how to consider material that is transferred from one truck to another truck or trucks (“Dude! That truck dumped its load on a pile over there, and the material was picked up and taken away by two other trucks. I counted 3. Should that really be 1? 2?”). Next come the questions about how much material is in the truck: “Is this a 7-yarder or a 10-yarder? Did you fill it even with the top of the dump box? Are the corners filled?” And, oh yeah, “How loose is the material? How should I determine a ‘legitimate’ cubic yard when I see all these spaces between the chunks in the truck?” What is the actual ‘fluff’ factor? And, finally, “This hole looks like it should have taken ten truckloads to remove the material, but I counted fifty! And it’s looking like it will take 42 to fill it in.”

These truck counting problems may be some of the reasons why authorities who establish such standards prefer to use ‘in place’ volume measurement to determine quantities.

But, hey, go ahead and count the trucks, if you want to. Don’t forget to count that blue one over there. Is that coming or going?

Posted in Construction Administration, Site Work

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