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BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Excavation
Types of Excavation
There are several types of excavation used in the building process, the type and method
depending on the amount of ground to be excavated. Broad divisions are:
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)

Soil strip
Reduced level excavation
Bulk excavation
Trench Excavation
Hole or pit excavation

Soil strip excavation


The top layer of ground contains material which is decomposing, along with active plant
life in the form of grass, flowers, roots or shrubs etc. This material is easily compressible
and as such is unsuitable for construction purposes. Therefore, the top layer of soil should
be removed before starting any construction work on the soil and this removal of top soil
is called, soil strip excavation. This soil layer has been made up by nature through out
thousands of years and very valuable. This soil can be stock piled in a convenient place
so that it can be used gardening purposes after completing construction works.
A motor grader, Bull Dozer or excavator can be used in removing top soil.
Reduced Level Excavation
It is usually necessary to provide a level surface from which construction may take place,
and this level may be lower than the top of the existing soil level. In such cases,
excavation will have to be carried out in order to reduce the level of the ground. If the
available material is suitable for filling purposes, this excavated material can be used to
fill the other part if the construction work is going on a sloping land. Bulldozer, Motor
grader or Excavator can be used for this type of excavation.

Cut

Fill
Figure 1 Cut and Fill
Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26

BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Bulk Excavation
Where large volumes of soil are required to be excavated in order to reach the formation
level, the excavation is known as bulk excavation. This type of excavation may be to
reduce levels or to provide basement areas. Excavator, Bulldozer can be used this type of
excavation.
Trench excavation
After preparation of formation level, it may be necessary to excavate trenches for the
foundations. Trenches are also required out side the building for the laying of pipes and
cables for supplying utilities. This can be done manually or using a backhoe wheel loader.
If there is considerable width, Excavator also can be used.
Hole or pit Excavation
Whenever it is necessary, to excavate pit or hole, Hand or Mechanically driven Augers or
drills are used.
Water in Excavations
The water level at which it rests in the ground is called water table. In case of excavations
deeper than this water table level, the further excavations and any construction work
beyond this level will be extremely difficult. Under such circumstances, the water will
have to be removed during excavation and while construction work is being carried out.
This water removing process is called dewatering and the easiest way of removing water
is the usage of a water pump. Water pump may be agricultural water pump or a
submersible water pump.
The objective of dewatering is to lower the water table in the vicinity of the working area
to provide relatively dry conditions for the excavations. Several methods can be used to
achieve this objective. Pumping from an open sump and well pointing are the most
commonly used methods.
In open sump method, a small sump will be excavated within the excavation area ( in the
deepest point) preferably away from the working area and water will be removed from a
pump. A trench can be cut around the excavation area so that the standing water would be
minimized. This method can handle only minor amount of water inflow.
A well point system consists of a closely spaced series of small-diameter wells. The
objective of the well point system is to produce a cone of depression in the water table so
that excavation can be carried out in a dry condition. In this system a riser pipe is inserted
in to each well and at surface level it is connected to a header pipe which in turn is
connected to a suction pump.
Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26

BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Figure 2 Well point system


Deep well systems consist of one or more individual wells, each of which has its own
submersible pump at the bottom of the well. They are more powerful than well points,
require a wider spacing and fewer well holes

Excavation Support Systems


Excavation support structures include all means and methods of preventing a collapse of
the earth walls which surround an open excavation. Usually the simplest way to support
an excavation is to slope back the sides of the excavation to the acceptable angle of
repose. As long as the excavation is not too deep, and adequate space exists on the site for
the sloping to occur, this method can be applied. But the supporting becomes more
complicated when the depth of excavation is higher. In this type of a situation earth
retention systems must be designed which meet the specific requirements of the site and
soil conditions. The issue of excavation support becomes further complicated when there
are adjacent buildings as excavation could cause the settlement of the foundations of
adjacent buildings.
The supporting system could be done in three ways. They are;

cantilever,
braced
Box

Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26

BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Within the three basic configurations there may be any number of variations. Steel,
timber or concrete members can be used for the supporting work.
The cantilever method is the simplest form. In this method, vertical members will be
inserted into the ground and earth is supported by both horizontal members behind
vertical members. This method relies entirely on the passive resistance of the soil below
the excavation line to support the excavation loads. There is no limit to the excavation
width. There are no walers and struts to interfere with other construction operations. The
limitation is that a 20-foot or less excavation depth is the normal practical limit. Another
disadvantage is the piles must penetrate below the excavation at least equal to the height
of the excavation. The cantilever is relatively structurally inefficient.
The braced system uses internal bracing and the embedded pile to share the support of the
excavation active pressure and surcharge loads. The braced system has the advantage of a
more efficient structural support system than a cantilever method. There is no limit on
depth of excavation, since multiple layers of walers and struts can be added as needed.
One disadvantage is that the walers and struts may interfere with other construction
operations.
The box system relies entirely on the internal bracing to resist the excavation active and
live load forces. Each of these shoring systems has their application. Box shoring system
can often be designed to be very efficient structurally. The walers can be placed to reduce
the unsupported pile lengths. In weak soils with low internal friction angle boxes are
effective, as the box does not rely on the passive resistance of the soil. Another advantage
is that the piles do not extend below the excavation. If there is a hard rock layer close to
the bottom of the excavation, the box eliminates the need to penetrate the rock for
support. The major disadvantage is the excavation and backfill is often required in at least
three stages to install and remove the waler systems. Also there is that much more
installation work and interference.

Figure 3 Earth supporting systems


Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26

BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Figure 4 Supporting using struts


Figure 5 Supporting with poling boards,
& poling boards

struts & walers

Figure 6 Supporting with struts, poling boards & sheeting

Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26

BTEC HND in QS & CE

Week No: 03
BCT/03/02/04

Glossary
Trench
A long narrow ditch.
Dewatering
Removal of water from excavated area, structure etc.

Self Reference
Bary,R(1999). The Construction of Buildings Volume 1. 7th ed., Oxford: Blackwell
Science Ltd. P 28
Frank Harris (1994). Modern Construction and ground engineering equipment and
methods. 2nd ed., Essex: Longman Scientific & Technical pp 92-103

Review Tasks - Excavation

What is excavation?
What are the general types of excavation?
Identify the factors affecting the selection of a particular method (manual or
machinery) of excavation and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of it.
Why do we need to provide support to the excavation area?
What are the methods that can be used in providing supports to the excavation?
What are the dewatering methods?
Why do you have to learn this topic as a quantity surveyor?

Ms.Kandamby
QS/11/26