Knowledge Article: The Modular Aluminum Box – A Powerful Lightweight Solution

BY National Trench Safety

NTS stands alone as the sole trench and traffic safety equipment enterprise boasting a nationwide branch network. Our extensive, diverse inventory encompasses equipment available for both rental and sale, accompanied by traffic and trench safety engineering services. Additionally, we offer a broad OSHA-compliant training curriculum. Fundamentally, NTS is a service-oriented organization, a commitment reflected in our mission statement.


The aluminum box is a lightweight, modular, and portable system that can be assembled by hand. Modular shield panels offer the flexibility to match changing job-site trench protection requirements. Aluminum panels range from 3-ft to 16-ft in length and have an operational reach of 25-ft in depth. Typically, this system is favored by contractors working on small to medium-sized projects involving tie-ins, manhole installations, utility inspections, and maintenance repairs. Let’s take a closer look and see how a contractor used the modular aluminum box on a recent multi-phase project in the Texas gulf region.

The contractor was tasked with replacing communication duct banks and performing soil remediation. The project site was located under an active roadway and overpass that remained partially open throughout the project. The active roadway was narrowed to a single lane as the excavation cut extended into one of the lanes. The excavation cut had a linear run of 120-ft in length, 10-ft in width, and 10-ft in depth. The contractor needed to expeditiously perform the work to restore the flow of traffic in the area. Ten modular aluminum trench boxes were deployed throughout the excavation. Each box was built with panels ranging from 10-ft to 12-ft in length and 2-ft in width. Panels are pinned to corner posts and can be configured with open or closed ends, 2-sided shield, 3-sided shield, and 4-sided enclosed shield applications. For this project, the aluminum boxes were built with open ends, allowing the contractor to maneuver and line up the boxes within the 120-ft linear run. Once positioned, the contractor proceeded with the planned soil remediation and replacement of the old communication ducts.

Highlighted below are a few features to keep in mind when considering a modular aluminum box system.

Key Features:

  • Lightweight – Aluminum panels.
  • Modular design – 2, 3, or 4-sided builds, stackable with pins, removable panels.
  • Assembly – On-premise or in a shop by hand with a small crew.
  • Small Footprint – Can be used when space and clearance are limited.

If your next project involves dealing with an excavation with changing soil conditions and shifting excavation needs, the modular aluminum box may be an appropriate solution to consider.

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