A Simple Guide to Underground Pipe Locators

If you’ve ever wondered why municipal and public utility crews always seem to take so long when they’re working underground, it’s because they’re keenly aware of just how much buried cabling and plumbing infrastructure there is that needs to be avoided.

And water pipes and phone lines aren’t the only buried assets. Throughout the country, there are all kinds of active transmission, oil and natural gas networks buried in the zone between 200mm and 2m, and not all of their locations are accurately recorded. In cases where network operators have had to attain rights of way from private landowners, some buried assets may have no record at all.

For maintenance and construction crews, pinpointing where these assets are buried isn’t just about repairing leaking water mains or restoring broken internet connections. It’s a matter of public safety; and Testrix Systems, Australia’s leading manufacturer of pipe and cable locating equipment, is committed to ensuring that engineers and other entities know precise what’s under the ground before the first shovel touches it.

Underground Locators From Testrix

Man working with underground pipe locator
Source: youtube.com

For more than 20 years, Testrix has been on the leading edge of developing some of the most advanced underground inspection tools available for utilities crews and subcontractors. They understand the consequences of an excavation striking or damaging a buried asset, which is why the Testrix line of U-Loc Precision Cable and Underground Pipe Locator kits are so highly sought after by crews conducting pre-excavation site surveys. With the ability to locate cables and pipes to a depth of 10m, the U-Loc makes superior asset detection and avoidance possible at a price point that any organization involved in civil works can perform it effectively. The risk to workers and the public, along with civil liabilities, are too great to rely exclusively on asset owner records, and a U-Loc utilities locator allows even untrained excavation crews to master the basics of underground cable detection.  

Testrix Precision in the U-Loc

Man working with underground pipe locator
Source: fluke.com

The core of the U-Loc system is the dual-frequency, monoblock ABS receiver that displays easily interpreted detection data directly on its simple LCD screen. In the passive setting, U-Loc users only need to follow the screen’s 2D map to see the precise location of an underground utility. And when the utility is centered on the screen, the U-Loc automatically displays that asset’s electrical current and depth measurements without any user input.

Weighing only 2.4kg and IP-54 rated against dust and water ingress, the U-Loc doesn’t just stand out as being one of lightest underground locators on the Australian market, it also has one of the fullest complements of standard features for any detector, including:

  • On-screen guidance for simpler detection of buried cables and pipes;
  • 3 operation modes: “ROUTE,” “GRAPHIC,” and “FRIEND-OR-FOE;”
  • Multiple passive (50Hz and 100Hz) frequencies;
  • A 512Hz frequency sonde mode for use with sewer or drain cameras;
  • Peak and null (MIN/MAX) functionality for detecting in congested environments;
  • Current direction for individual cable detection; and,
  • Built-in GPS and GLONASS locating, with accuracy of +/-1.5m.

With the easy-to-use U-Loc, subcontractors and excavators don’t have to rely on overly-complicated buried cable detector rental equipment, or hiring third-party locating services. They can confidently and affordably perform their own detection activities using the most advanced locating equipment available.

The U-Loc Transmitter Kit

When a survey needs to be conducted of a large, or densely congested area, passive locating simply isn’t sufficient. Active mode searching is the best approach; and the U-Loc’s optional Transmitter Kit is gives users the tools to do that.

The kit’s powerful 20W transformer weighs only 2kg, but it instantly extends the U-Loc’s underground detection range up to 3km. It’s extremely high output also enables it to overcome the resistances that a standalone underground utility locator would encounter difficulty with on plated and shielded cables and pipes.

Along with the IP-65 rated transmitter, the U-Loc kit also contains:

  • A 100mm signal induction clamp;
  • Direct connection leads; and;
  • Grounding accessories.

These are only a few of the sensors that can be used with the U-Loc, including sensors for underground cable fault detection activities. The accessories included with the kit, however, underline just how broad the transmitter’s range of functionality is, including:

  • Direct or wireless connectivity with the U-Loc receiver;
  • Multiple active (1kHz, 8kHz, and 33kHz) frequencies; and,
  • The ability to detect in either Contact, Contactless or Spill Induction modes.

In short, the U-Loc Transmitter Kit is designed to be just as user friendly as the standalone receiver. And the U-Loc system is backed by an intuitive suite of data tools that also make verifying every operation just as easy.

Comprehensive U-Loc Data Verification

Working with underground pipe locator
Source: drainbrain.com

A lot of data gets accumulated when using a buried cable detector, and the U-Loc is an excellent data manager when it comes to verifying that due diligence was exercised prior to an excavation. The U-Loc can store up 2300 detection measurement points and download them via USB to Testrix’s own PC software program for map verification or further analysis.   

It demonstrates how comprehensive the U-Loc underground cable locator is at enabling planners, engineers, and even asset owners to implement a proper Duty of Care procedure that:

  • Complies with relevant State or Territorial Work Health and Safety (WHS) regulations;
  • Satisfies legislative requirements that mandate the protection of certain transmission assets; and,
  • Provides adequate safeguards for workers and the general public.

Make no mistake: every site survey has to be verified. It’s why filing a Dial Before You Dig enquiry is a mandatory procedure before undertaking any type of excavation. However, for the on-site assurance that no asset has been omitted, overlooked, or that something as simple as ground erosion hasn’t altered a previously reported location, the U-Loc is the underground cable detector you can trust to get the job done.      

The Final Word

At the end of the day, detection and avoidance are the most effective ways to prevent accidentally striking and damaging a buried asset. The potential costs in personnel, property, and infrastructure are simply too high not to take every possible measure to minimize the risk.

Testrix’s line of U-Loc Precision Cable and Underground Pipe Locator kits are the tools that every organization needs to take control of their site survey procedures. It’s an investment in knowing firsthand that they can conduct their works safely, efficiently, and economically.