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Selecting the grading area

Ground grading as slope and collision analysis is a post-table placement feature and can be found in the third tab of the Civil analysis menu:

In the first two windows, we are able to identify slope and terrain collision issues and for a more detailed description of how these functionalities work, check the following tutorials:

Ground grading in its turn is dedicated to solving those issues. And we start by selecting the grading area:

By this selection, PVcase is creating a copy of the current terrain data of our design. All the changes will be made to this copy, and it will be placed under the PVcase Proposed Grade layer surface label.

This way you can keep your original information and use it for comparison later. In the GIF below, it's possible to see that new indicative terrain points are being created as we select the PV area:

These terrain points will have an x, y, z coordinate information associated with them:

Note: The Active surface will automatically switch from Existing to Proposed after area selection.

Grading - table slope

The table slope correction is made in the east-west direction for fixed-tilt frames and in the north-south direction for single-axis trackers. The example below shows how to adjust slopes for a fixed-tilt system.

After having identified the tables that have a slope issue, we can use the Set slope button to define new limits. All the frames that have a slope higher than the specified limit can be fixed accordingly:

It's important to emphasize that the action of setting a slope is only fixing the table inclination. Therefore, it may occur that after fixing the slopes, the frames are still too far from the terrain or experiencing a collision.

To calculate how much earthwork is necessary to attend to the slope requirements, we just need to click on Grade. Here we can choose grade-specific frames or the entire PV area:

The whole grading action depends on the pole length. Both functionalities are tied together. PVcase will calculate how much earthwork is necessary to attend the slope requirement, considering the first and last pole ranges.

Grading - collision

For the collision analysis, the process is really similar to the slope analysis. And this time we are going to evaluate an example with a single-axis tracker. We can start by checking the frames that are outside the pole review limits, and then grading the entire area:

Here we can easily see that PVcase has graded all the orange frames that had poles shorter than the lower limit to 1.4 m:

And for the purple frames that originally had pole lengths higher than the upper limit, by modifying the terrain, all the poles have been fixed to maximum 1.7 m:

It is worth emphasizing that when we select the entire area for grading, the algorithm will only pick up problematic frames that are outside the pre-defined limits. For all the blue tables that were initially in accordance with such limits, PVcase will only recreate the existing surface below the frames, without performing any changes. We can easily check that here:

In the picture above, we can see exactly the same frames before and after the grading action. Just the poles that were shorter than 1.4 meters have been graded.

As mentioned in the slope correction, PVcase will calculate how much earthwork is needed through the piling range specification. The results are shown in the table for both the selected area's grade and also for the entire drawing for the case when we have more than one graded area:

And in case we want to try out different scenarios, we can easily reset all the grading actions by right-clicking on the Net result and selecting the Reset option:

Active Surface Switch

PVcase can now accommodate two different terrain data at the same time. And we can switch between both using the Existing and Proposed buttons:

By switching surfaces, the piling information is also updated, so it becomes easier to make a comparison with the values that we initially had before the grading process. Once again, the proposed topography is created when we select the grading area and PVcase creates a copy of the topography information.

Surface comparison

As a final step, we can easily compare the existing and proposed grade surface using the heatmap provided by the Surface comparison tool. To do so, We have two options on how to illustrate the grading intensity on the project area: either a heatmap, which colors affected segments of the terrain with a corresponding color, or spot levels, which places text denoting the elevation difference in a specific spot on the drawing.

Start by defining the values in the Surface comparison table.

  • Start value - this is the smallest value that will be represented in the heatmap;

  • Table range count - this defines the granularity of the heatmap (number of steps in either direction);

  • Step size - this is the increment in which the values progress.

It is generally best practice to have a table range value of at least 5 - this is to enable you to have a better sense of granularity in the heatmap.

Once you have the variables defined, click on the Fill table and the table on the bottom-left-hand corner of the window will be populated. The red coloring indicates the areas that are subject to material removal, while purple indicates areas where material needs to be added. You are free to customize the colors by left-clicking on them and choosing an option that suits your needs. Example below:

Spot levels

With Spot levels, we can define the density of the text element placement. This does not impact the accuracy of the grading procedure, but rather how many points are placed on the drawing to illustrate the calculations. The resulting elevations are colored based on the Surface comparison table. Toggle on the Spot levels by clicking the On button. Example below:

Spot levels can also be reflected in the bill of materials - just make sure the spot levels in the ground grading window are activated when you export the BOM:


With the Heatmap, we get a colored overlay on the terrain which corresponds to the change in terrain elevation. Unlike with the Spot levels, there are no finer controls available. To activate, toggle it on in the same way as we do with the Spot levels and in a few moments, we will see the results. Picture below:


The surface heatmap illustrates which areas are subject to which type of grading procedure and at what intensity.

Export to CAD

Finally, we can also add a legend with the surface comparison table colors and range values into the drawing by clicking on Export to CAD and left-clicking on the drawing where we want to place this table. This is an accessible way to showcase the range of values and colors used for presentation purposes. Example below:

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