Five Questions to ask your utility location subcontractors
We’ve talked before about all of the reasons why you should use utility location and detection services for your next project – but how do you distinguish a good utility location company from a bad one?
Choosing a services locator that is qualified, trustworthy, and has the right equipment for the job is absolutely essential. We cannot stress how important this is.
Accurately located utilities can save you thousands on your project whereas a poor utility location job can end up costing you more than what you paid for the service AND delay your project unnecessarily.
To help you find the right provider for you, we’ve put together a list of the top five questions that you should ask your locator to weed out the good from the bad:
#1 – What are their credentials?
This is one might seem obvious but check their credentials to make sure the locator you’re talking to isn’t just someone who has bought some equipment from eBay and taught themselves how to use it through YouTube.
Ask your locator if they are DBYD certified and if their company is a Certified Locating Organisation. DBYD Certified locators have passed comprehensive theoretical and practical assessments conducted by industry experts. The certification requires them to demonstrate that they have the expertise to use a range of different locating techniques (and the right equipment) properly and accurately.
A Certified Locating Organisation has permission to access certain utility networks (e.g. Telstra) to ensure they can properly locate those assets. Certified Locating Organisations have DBYD Certified Locators, up-to-date and properly calibrated equipment, appropriate safety equipment, AND the right insurance to complete the work. You can check if the company is certified on the DBYD Certification website.
Your locator should be able to produce their DBYD certification card that shows their certification as well as the name of the Certified Locating Organisation they are employed by. Remember to check the expiry date and that the name of the company matches the organisation you have hired them through!
#2 – Does their methodology cover the 5 Essential Steps?
Utility locators use receivers to detect a signal and the “shape” of the signal is how they decode where subsurface assets actually are. There are five different ways to do this:
- Peak vs. Null
- Digital Depth Validation
- Null Method
- Peak Method
Each technique is slightly different and will give a professionally trained locator different information so it is always best if all five techniques are used to ensure the locate job has been completed to the best possible accuracy.
Ask your locator if they can explain how they know that their location is accurate. Can they explain the different uses for these five techniques?
#3 – How do they determine what frequency to use?
Most utility locators will have a preferred frequency they use which their equipment will be set to as a default. However, depending on the site location, this may not be the optimal frequency to capture the most accurate readings and results.
Ensure that your locator adjusts their frequency for the amount of noise and feedback in the area – this should be part of their standard processes.
#4 – Do they offer a site handover?
What does the locator and company do after the on-site location job has been completed? A professional utility location business should always carry out a site handover with the client after completion to discuss any issues that they encountered during the job and anything unexpected or out of the ordinary.
They should also be transparent and tell you if there are any areas that may require further investigation of some Non-Destructive Digging to properly verify. If there were any utilities that you had specified for location but they were unable to locate, they should be able to explain why this is the case and make a recommendation for how to move forward.
#5 – What type of training do the locators receive in their company?
Finally, ask your provider what type of training their offer their locators.
Frequent training is not absolutely necessary in our field but it is definitely a good sign if your utility location company attends industry events or offers their staff ongoing training. You can trust that their company and team are keeping up to date with the latest information on locating techniques, locating equipment and trends in the industry.
Ask these five questions to check that your locator is up to scratch and if in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact us here at Electroscan.
Electroscan offers utility detection, location and mapping services across Queensland to support all of your subsurface utility engineering needs. Electroscan’s highly skilled team of detection and location specialists use a comprehensive range of innovative technologies and surveying techniques to deliver certainty and help manage risks for your projects.