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It's a Jungle out there. Underground Utility Detection & Inspection Services

locating underground utilities

locating underground utilities


What is a Survey Grade Locator? Why It’s Important for Safe Construction

Have you ever wondered how construction crews manage to avoid hitting underground utilities like water pipes, gas lines, or electrical cables during their work? The secret lies in using advanced tools called survey-grade locators. These devices help detect and map out underground utilities, ensuring safe and efficient construction projects. Let’s dive into what survey-grade locators are and why they’re so crucial.

What is a Survey Grade Locator?

A survey-grade locator is a tool used for locating underground utilities with high accuracy. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), these locators support Quality Level B (QL-B) accuracy, which means they provide very reliable data about where utilities are buried. However, the highest level of accuracy, Quality Level A (QL-A), requires actually seeing the utility, which involves digging small holes, known as potholing.

How Do Survey Grade Locators Work?

Survey-grade locators use non-destructive testing (NDT) equipment and methods, including ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic transmitters and receivers. This enables those utility locators to locate underground utilities without the need to dig. This is especially important with regard to safety in order to avoid accidents in construction sites as well as to facilitate the flow of operations for construction projects for the smooth running of the operations.

Why Are Survey Grade Locators Important?

Safety: Accurate location data helps prevent accidents like hitting gas lines, which can cause explosions, or cutting through electrical cables, which can lead to fires or electrocution.
Efficiency: When someone knows the accurate location of utilities, construction crews are able to perform their tasks more efficiently and safely.
Cost Savings: Minimizing harm to the utilities keeps the contractors from incurring expenses on damages and project delays. It also aids in planning to avoid or at least reduce service disruptions that, in turn, increase overall project costs.
Environmental Protection: Lack of digging in unnecessary areas, as well as avoiding circumstances that lead to utility strikes, also reduces the negative impact that one might have on the environment due to erosion of soil and contamination from leaks.

Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) Positioning Technology

The positioning technology of RTK is one of the critical features of survey-grade locators. RTK improves the accuracy of GPS data to as little as 1 cm of precision. This technology involves a fixed base station and a mobile receiver, with the former sending correction signals of the position of the latter. When used in conjunction with GPR and electromagnetic detection, a system called RTK enables engineers to create highly accurate maps of underground utilities, which in turn enhances construction safety and productivity.

The Dangers of Underground Utility Strikes

Hitting an underground utility can have serious consequences:

Safety Hazards: Foul play to the pipeline can lead to grave consequences such as gas leaks, electrocutions, and water leaks, which might lead to an explosion.

Service Disruptions: Utility strikes can interrupt essential services such as, electricity, water, and internet services to households, commerce, and public facilities.

Legal and Financial Consequences: Examine how accidents cause costly damages, legal issues, penalties, and even compensations. They can also compromise the reputation of any company involved in such activities.

Project Delays: Another risk which is associated with construction is when the contractor accidentally strikes an underground utility – the effect of this is that the construction process will be slowed down and the costs incurred will certainly be high.

Preventing Utility Strikes

Using survey-grade locators involves several steps to ensure accuracy and safety:

1. Planning and Research: Conduct initial searches for existing records that may indicate where utilities are expected to be located.

2. On-Site Detection: Use sophisticated equipment such as electromagnetic locators and ground penetrating radar to establish accurate locations of utility lines such as gas, water, and electricity.

3. Mapping and Documentation: Develop extensive drawings outlining the identified utilities to enable construction functions.

4. Ongoing Monitoring: Adapting with time and making sure that the landscape below the surface of the ground is still good for construction works.

The Role of C-N-I Locates

At C-N-I Locates, we pride ourselves on our 99.8% accuracy rate across over 500,000 jobs. Our technicians undergo rigorous training and certification courses, ensuring they provide the highest standard of care and clarity in reporting. Whether you need local, regional, or national private utility locating services, C-N-I Locates ensures your projects are on time, on budget, and safe.

By using advanced technologies and skilled professionals, survey-grade locators like those at C-N-I Locates play a vital role in modern construction. They help prevent accidents, save money, and protect the environment, making them an essential tool for any construction project.