Underground Asset Location and Mapping: Why is This Important in an Excavation Project?

July 18, 2019

This issue doesn't cause many problems out in the open country. Correction, there might be an irrigation system or a few sporadically situated structures to map. Back in a small township, things are significantly different. Although the ground looks deceptively clear in most areas, there's probably any number of underground utilities running no more than a couple of metres below the topsoil. There can be no blind digging done here.

Underground Asset Location Science

A trenching service always goes in with a score of drawings in-hand. The site drawings mark out all local structures and landmarks, plus any topographical features. Stripping away this surface layer, another set of blueprints offers an X-Ray equivalent view of what's going on below the ground. Before the excavators receive a dispatch notice, someone pulls the infrastructure blueprints from a local council office. Of course, such assets can't always be relied upon, not if they haven't been updated for years. This is where the scientific instrumentation enters. Used to locate underground assets, let's start with a cable tracer.

Instrumentation-Based Underground Utility Mapping

Let's just say that a trenching service becomes unnecessarily dangerous without asset location work. If there are live cables situated under the soil, an excavator bucket could penetrate a protective sheath and generate a life-threatening electrical shock. For fluid lines, that bucket might scrape and crack a pipe. At best, the area loses water pressure. At worst, toxic waste poisons the ground. Anyway, arriving with a cable tracer, the instrument picks up stray magnetic currents. A can of fluorescent spray paint is used to mark out the live cables. Of course, that's just the beginning, just the simplest part of the service. More sophisticated machines attach tuned signals, which indicate the locations of pipes and old, depowered cable sections.

A Professionally Managed Mapping Service

As with most things, the technology has only gotten better over time. Cable tracers and signal generators are still in heavy use out in the field, but they sometimes draw a blank when faced with severe underground clutter. That's when Ground-Penetrating RADAR (GPR) scanners and 3D Mapping devices, complete with GPS geolocation hardware, comes to the rescue. And remember, thick underground cables and pipes are only part of the problem. Low signal bearing communications networks are making things worse too.

At an elementary level, "Dial Before You Dig" referral services have access to vast resources, including local infrastructural plans. Still, there's always a chance that someone will overlook this task, that the service won't be marked on a local map. That's why underground asset location labelling doesn't rely on geospatially tagged layers. In addition to these databases and maps, live cables are magnetically traced while dead linkages and pipes are mapped with special signal tracers and ground-penetrating radar systems.

Optimized by NetwizardSEO.com.au

Recent posts

Posts 2020

Posts 2019

Posts 2018

Posts 2017

Posts 2016