Drainage System Designer Finds Numerous Benefits in Automatic Pipe Sizing
New Feature in Farm Works Surface Software Saves Him 30-60 Minutes per Job
Joey Schlatter designs drainage systems for family-owned businesses Schlatter’s Inc., which is a Trimble reseller, as well as drainage company West Central Water Management, LLC, both based in Indiana. He has been using the new automatic pipe sizing feature in Farm Works™ Surface software
for more than a dozen drainage design jobs and has found that it saves him significant time in the drainage design process.
Automatic pipe sizing provides recommended pipe sizes for all pipes within a given design, as well as an estimate on cost and material required for the drainage project. With this feature, drainage contractors and farmers can quickly and efficiently produce optimal drainage designs while also reducing material costs.
“The way most pipe sizing calculations are done today is antiquated, time consuming, and inaccurate,” said Schlatter. “The majority of people in the industry today use a cardboard slide rule to manually calculate pipe size. In many cases the average end user just guesses. They will get as close of an estimate as they can with the slide rule and just call it good enough, so they might be under sizing their drainage system, or over sizing their system because they are not calculating it properly.”
“Using manual calculations is not nearly as efficient,” said Schlatter. “For an average size job it might take me a couple of hours to design it, and at least 30 minutes to an hour to manually calculate pipe size properly, but with automatic pipe sizing, that portion of the design process is now literally down to minutes.”
Schlatter also feels that the new feature does a much more precise job because it’s properly calculating the amount of slope on the mains and laterals, as well as how many acres are coming into each main. “Slope and acres are the two main factors needed to calculate the size of pipe required, and Farm Works Surface includes both. The software is able to track exactly how much slope is on the pipe, and how many acres are coming in each line, so I am able to do a very accurate job of sizing the system, and to do it very quickly,” said Schlatter.
According to Schlatter, another benefit of automatic pipe sizing is the flexibility it allows because there are a number of different parameters they can enter on which to base the size of pipe they want, and the software allows for these adjustments. He adds that it is also very easy to use.
“I’ve been doing design work since the late 1990’s and I’ve worked with a number of different software packages. To date Farm Works has been the most comprehensive software package and the most easy to use of them all,” said Schlatter.
More About Automatic Pipe Sizing
With the automatic pipe sizing feature in Farm Works Surface software, diameters are recommended for all pipes within the user’s drainage network based on the terrain, depth, pipe materials available for the project, and drainage coefficient, which represents how much water will be drained from a field within 24 hours. The customer has the choice to use the recommended pipe sizes or manually assign different pipe sizes. Users can view a chart of where the pipe is placed (terrain level, maximum depth, recommended depth, pipe size, and length) as well as where constraints need to be modified to ensure optimal performance. The system also provides a report to help customers determine the required length of pipe, the cost for supplies, and the total system cost.
The benefits of automatic pipe sizing are numerous including improved crop yield because the field is draining at an optimal level; decreased errors with a simplified design process that eliminates manual calculation; and cost savings since the correct size of pipe is installed in the right place in the field.