Benefits of Modular Aluminum Trench Boxes

Configure these lightweight boxes exactly as you need them.

When you’re looking for design flexibility and fast, easy installation, modular is the name of the game. That goes for everything from closets to multifamily homes to trench boxes.

Terms for these boxes vary based on the manufacturer — Build-a-Box, Modular Buildable Box, Modular Aluminum Panel System (MAPS) — but the idea is the same. Various components that you pin together allow you to build a two-sided, three-sided or four-sided trench box to your specifications. You choose the length, height and width, within the limitations of the tabulated data.

These lightweight boxes offer users great versatility in both configuration and transportation. Here are some of their key advantages.

Easy transport and assembly

The components used to build a modular aluminum trench box are lightweight and compact, making them easy to transport by a small truck. That lighter weight also means you’ll save fuel getting the equipment to the jobsite.

The panels used to build the walls of the box come in 2-foot-tall sections that weigh only about 14 pounds per foot, so smaller panels can easily be unloaded by hand. The corner posts are available in 2-foot to 10-foot lengths and weigh only about 7 pounds per foot.

These boxes require very little room for setup, which makes them ideal for smaller jobsites. Assembly is fast and easy and can be completed with the aid of a lightweight machine — and sometimes without any machine. The box must always be built above ground.

Flexible configurations

On some jobs, the configuration of the excavation may change from day to day. A modular aluminum trench box can accommodate these changes because it can be configured in a variety of ways.

A two-sided box with spreaders at the ends may work well in a linear trench. If crews are working in a pit where each side will have a vertical wall of soil, then panels at the end would replace the spreaders. If a three-sided or four-sided box is needed, the contractor can easily convert a two-sided box.

Multiple size options

The panels that make up the box walls range in length from 2 feet to 16 feet. Panels in the 2-foot to 6-foot range are available in 1-foot increments. Panels longer than 6 feet are available in 2-foot increments.

The smaller increments can be advantageous in small spaces with multiple crossing utilities. Boxes can be assembled with shorter length panels, available in 1 foot increments, to help to avoid unprotected areas in a trench.

United Rentals can also provide MAPS box legs, which enable the user to position the box up to 2 feet off the bottom of the trench to gain a vertical pipe clearance on all four walls.

There’s flexibility vertically, too. As long as the tab data requirements are met, modular trench boxes can be stacked on top of each other to build the protective system to the desired height.

Extra clearance when needed

If a linear trench includes a large pipe, an arch spreader can be installed on one or both ends of the trench box to increase vertical pipe clearance.

Sheeting guide systems are another valuable addition to modular aluminum trench box systems. These guide frames can be used on either the sides or the ends of a box, or on both. They allow corrugated aluminum sheeting to be installed vertically around crossing utilities. Sheeting guides may also be necessary when you need more than 2’ of vertical pipe clearance. Remember, every vertical wall of soil must be properly supported.

Whether you’re working on a project with a trench that’s likely to require frequent reconfiguration, or you’re working in tight space around multiple obstacles, or you want a lightweight trench box that’s easy to transport and install, a modular aluminum trench box might be just the ticket.

It is always best practice to consult an expert before beginning an excavation or trench project. Need help choosing a trench protective system? Contact a trench safety team member at United Rentals.

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