The benefits of ground-penetrating radar are numerous and abundantly clear to anyone who has worked on earthmoving projects in the past. By aiding your 811 process, GPR systems stand to not only prevent expensive errors but also speed up the construction process with more accurate and reliable underground surveying. Continue below to learn more!
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) offers residential and commercial inspectors, plumbing and utility contractors, and electricians a host of safety, efficiency, and revenue benefits.
Rather than solely relying on the national 811 call-before-you-dig hotline, to limit the risk of unintentionally digging into an underground utility line, general contractors, subcontractors and inspectors are including GPR units in their locating toolbox and using them in combination with other locating tools to improve accuracy in the workplace and on-site.
GPR Technology Addresses Wider Needs
In the past two decades, there has been an increasing adoption by surveyors and engineers of GPR utility locating equipment. Already employing electronic equipment throughout the construction process, surveyors and engineers successfully used GPR to modify the 811 process.
In recent years, engineers and project managers for subsurface utility engineering (SUE) contracts began to specify that contractors take additional measures to avoid unknown problems associated with buried underground utilities. GPR service providers carved out a niche serving electricians, plumbers and contractors tasked with detecting utility locations.
Now, with the greater availability of numerous powerful, high quality, and lower cost utility-locating GPR devices, inspectors, electricians, plumbing and utility contractors are asking why they are paying to use GPR equipment when they can simply purchase a unit for themselves.
Utility Locating Tools – 811 System, EM and GPR
Before contractors start a project, they use the 811 system to get the approximate details of all public utilities and indicate their location with spray paint or flags. Technically, just making that call satisfies a contractor’s legal responsibility.
However, many consider the 811 system to be insufficient – the safety risks and consequences of hitting a gas line and the cost of idling a workforce has compelled contractors to be more proactive in detecting exact locations of underground utility lines.
The majority of utility locators employ an electromagnetic (EM) line locator to search for active utilities. Electric lines are difficult to trace using GPR, this makes EM more reliable as it is much quicker and easier to use than GPR. However, while EM is faster, its positioning accuracy is not as good as that of GPR, which can supply horizontal and vertical positioning information within a couple of inches.
These two methods supplement each other since GPR functions better for non-metallic objects and EM for metallic objects. If both tools determine the presence of a pipe, it instils a greater level of confidence. Perhaps the biggest shift into mass adoption has been the simple-to-use system. Utilizing an advanced, user-friendly interface means operators require less technical experience to gather and interpret data, charting the course to faster onboarding.
GPR offers contractors a boost in confidence, rather than relying on the 811 system. Now, GPR for utility locating is realistically accessible with small, portable and inexpensive systems readily available on the market.