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Using GPR Technology for Underground Utility Locating Reduces Risks of Injury and Costly Damages

February 24, 2021, 9:07 AM

Underground utility locating companies are turning to state-of-the-art equipment to help their clients save time while reducing the risk of injury and costly damages. Take the example of Modesto, CA-based ExceeD GPR & Locating, which has built a thriving niche business locating underground mains, including telecommunication, electricity distribution, natural gas, cable television, fiber optics, traffic lights, streetlights, storm drains, water mains, and wastewater pipes. The company serves clients like Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), real estate agents, national and regional developers, and homeowners.

Miquel Aguilar, CEO and senior radar technician, uses radio detection equipment along with the GSSI UtilityScan Pro GPR system for quickly identifying and marking utility location and depth. The system features the GSSI SIR 4000 control unit and 350 MHz digital HyperStacking antenna. The patented HyperStacking technology increases depth penetration of up to 40 feet in ideal soil conditions, while also providing high near-surface data resolution. Typical depth penetration can range from 8-12 feet in California terrain, where Aguilar works.

Aguilar specializes in doing two-dimensional real-time utility location. He appreciates some of the features included in the advanced equipment, especially the data collection speed, real time scanning and results, and the ability to quickly make adjustments and changes to accommodate different environmental conditions, like pavement, wet soil, average soil, or rocky conditions.

Says Aguilar, “With UtilityScan Pro, I can make decisions very quickly to improve the clarity and brightness of what I am seeing, especially for jobs I do at night.” He finds the equipment to be extremely accurate. “There have even been cases where clients are surprised and a bit concerned when I did not find an expected sewer line – then a week or so later they get back to me to let me know that even though the line was on the as-built plans, the utility never actually installed that line!”

ExceeD GPR & Locating has worked on projects all over California, from as far north as Eureka, down to Needles, in the Mohave desert near the Arizona border. Utility locating projects range from small, partial day surveys to ongoing, weeklong projects. One recent project was for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), where Aguilar’s team was hired to locate underground utilities in a service hangar prior to retrofits.

Aguilars’ company has been so successful in utility locating that they also branched out into using GPR for concrete scanning. The company has performed concrete scanning at a wide variety of sites, from water treatment plants, dams, wineries, and high-rise hotels, to homes with post tension slabs. One interesting project was at the Modesto Silos, a redevelopment project by Modesto Silos and Royal Equity Investments, LLC, where ExceeD had to perform utility and concrete scanning services prior to renovations.

With close to 10,000 utility damages in the state of California, Aguilar is extremely proud of the work his company does for the private and public entities that focus on keeping the state safe. “With all that we have gone through as a state, I think every project is very important. Everyone wants to be able to turn on their stove or take a warm shower. The services we provide make sure everyone can safely maintain access to all the essential utility services.” GSSI offers a range of utility locating systems, including both two dimensional and three dimensional imaging systems. They are offered with a variety of accessories, including GPS and LineTrac, which helps locate AC power and induced RF energy present in conduits and utilities.

Credits// Author: GSSI

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