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Thread: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

  1. #1
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    Default To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    nothing but respect for all of you that stay doing what you are doing. Been 5 months since i started and its been insane as it is without dig season here yet. 5 months and i still feel like im learning things for the first time. winter as it is was a endurance test just walking through all the snow working on project tickets, dealing with att peds not bonded back correctly by previous locators, 12 hour days, utility maps that are outdated and look like a schematic for a microchip board, and frustration upon frustration everyday. only thing that keeps me going here is i got a great supervisor and a great crew for the few that has been here. but in those 5 months i feel like i have not gained any further knowledge about what i do. seems like everywhere i go i have my gain too high, i have my gain too low, on the wrong frequency, signal is bleed over, chasing phantom signals, ground rod is in the wrong place, and i didnt blow up the utility map large enough to see that buried line between the 2 poles where everything else is in the air.

    Ive worked with douchebag contractors and ive had the pleasure of working with some awesome contractors as well. same applies to other fellow employees from other areas as well. this shit is hard starting out, and i hope i get a better understanding during dig season. i just dont want to be that guy thats been doing this a year and still hasnt learned anything nor can hold his own weight on the field.

    So nothing but respect for all of you in this field that has stuck through it year after year.
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    Sounds like you've worked on one of my jobs, but I haven't had any up in Glenview since you've been here. Some in Schaumburg, but that's the closest I've been to Glenview lately.




    Have you had any of your co-workers on a job with you or have you had a big job that required help from another locator? Maybe pick up some tips and tricks from observing someone a little more seasoned?

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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    Generally a locator does not reach successful beginner level until they have completed a year locating on their own. You are right where you are expected to be.
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    Jay c, even when im with the boss and hes showing me things, it seems like he knows how to read the unstable signals, he knows how to look at the maps without even zooming in, on the otherhand hes been in this area for so long and worked himself on alot of these areas that he already knows whats here. when im on a locate, im slow cause even though things say they are in the air, im constantly looking around for poles to see if anything runs down them, i can see att peds on the opposite side of the extent and the map says it runs outside the extent but im unsure if the map is correct so i hook up to it and most of the time i dont get a comfortable signal so i spend more time just to eventually find out an hour later it was nowhere in the extent. I get alot of help, but these guys already know what to look for and know how to interpret it all, its hard for me to grasp things if i dont understand the why in how it all works, alot of them just know what works and what doesnt without knowing why it does and doesnt. and one big issue i have in this field is i assume too much. i see a gas service on the long side, see on the other side directly in front of it its grassy area, in my head logic says it runs straight to there, nope lol runs straight halfway through the yard then angles to the other side. im stopping myself from assuming but i still have the need to know how it all works, it drives me to better myself and to understand what i do. last thing i need is to miss mark a gas main or com ed and someone gets hurt or dies, i have enough demons with me when i sleep at night, i dont need anymore to haunt me further.

    professional locator - everyone says that often to me lol you can put me in an office and put me to any task you can think of and i can learn it with a week or 2. ive done construction and picked it up within a month. every job ive done up till this job, i have grasped the concept, learned everything i could know about it and excel on what i have done........ but here, its frustrating, just when i think i understand it, i dont. i keep having an " A HA! moment on top of another " A HA " day after day. its the rabbit hole in alice in wonderland. i think my biggest issue is i want to understand too much out of the scope of my work.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    I get what you're saying about things not being the way they should be. When we do Comcrap work, most of their maps are wrong one way or another - whether it's cable type, equipment at the pole or ped, or something else. It's just stupid. But, think of it this way, every day you're gaining experience. And that'll make you faster and better. And then you won't screw up locates on my jobs ;-)

  6. #6
    Mke
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    Quote Originally Posted by Spudzruz View Post
    Jay c, even when im with the boss and hes showing me things, it seems like he knows how to read the unstable signals, he knows how to look at the maps without even zooming in, on the otherhand hes been in this area for so long and worked himself on alot of these areas that he already knows whats here. when im on a locate, im slow cause even though things say they are in the air, im constantly looking around for poles to see if anything runs down them, i can see att peds on the opposite side of the extent and the map says it runs outside the extent but im unsure if the map is correct so i hook up to it and most of the time i dont get a comfortable signal so i spend more time just to eventually find out an hour later it was nowhere in the extent. I get alot of help, but these guys already know what to look for and know how to interpret it all, its hard for me to grasp things if i dont understand the why in how it all works, alot of them just know what works and what doesnt without knowing why it does and doesnt. and one big issue i have in this field is i assume too much. i see a gas service on the long side, see on the other side directly in front of it its grassy area, in my head logic says it runs straight to there, nope lol runs straight halfway through the yard then angles to the other side. im stopping myself from assuming but i still have the need to know how it all works, it drives me to better myself and to understand what i do. last thing i need is to miss mark a gas main or com ed and someone gets hurt or dies, i have enough demons with me when i sleep at night, i dont need anymore to haunt me further.

    professional locator - everyone says that often to me lol you can put me in an office and put me to any task you can think of and i can learn it with a week or 2. ive done construction and picked it up within a month. every job ive done up till this job, i have grasped the concept, learned everything i could know about it and excel on what i have done........ but here, its frustrating, just when i think i understand it, i dont. i keep having an " A HA! moment on top of another " A HA " day after day. its the rabbit hole in alice in wonderland. i think my biggest issue is i want to understand too much out of the scope of my work.
    Spudz, Not to reiterate what everyone else is telling you, but locating is a weird beast. You definately have to crawl before you can walk in this industry. Till this day I still have, "A HA!" moments. I supervise one guy. This one guy has been a locator for about 14yrs. To this day, I still have to get on him about trusting his equipment and to hook up correctly, or adjust his ground.

    Here is my take on locating...

    Don't ever assume the path of any utility- you can guess which direction it goes, but you need to use your equipment to prove it.

    Repitition and Routine- Your locate request can be in different areas, but your process should be the same. Have a mental checklist of the steps you need to do.

    The last part is the part I think you are probably having the hardest time with, and that is knowing the equipment. This isn't the typical, "know the equipment" where you learn how to turn it on and adjust gain and frequency. This is the, "know your equipment" as in, know what your equipment does or sounds like when it is being interfered with by other conductors. Or know your equipment and the limitations of the frequencies depending on what the conductor does. 8.19 is a great frequency, but it doesn't like to jump some particular splices. So depending on your connection point or how you connected, direct or induction clamp, you may not get the best read on it.

    People give the 810 a rash of crap because it's old and fragile, and it only has like a 1/4 watt transmitter. But the 810 made you learn the frequency. 83khz. You bled off on alot of stuff, but you knew you were bleeding off on it. You learned how to work with the frequency in oder to isolate the conductor. The frequency was high enough to where it had no issues going through splices or joints or anything like that. Now, locators are taught to fear bleedover, and in doing so, they learn to adjust the frequency or gain and you lose the ability to see the effects of other conductors on your target frequency. I know i'm probably losing you in the weeds.

    Maybe i'm just confusing the situation more, but I've watched rookie locators out here locate without knowing why they are changing their frequencies. They are taught to change frequencies when the signal doesn't make sense. It does'nt matter that their signal is going to be screwy because of where they decided to place their transmitter, or the fact that the line isn't where they are looking. As soon as it doesn't react the way it's supposed to, they adjust the frequency. When they go through the gambit of frequencies they will put it on a passive mode, and mark. This is all based on insufficient training.

    I'm glad I have an 810 and my company doesn't mind that I induce.

    mke
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  7. #7
    zen
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    I am another one that has done this for awhile, and I still learn new things everyday.

    Mke's response is right on, you need to learn what your equipment can do. learn to read the landscape, think like a contractor (when you see someone installing a water main, watch them and you can learn how they install it. same goes for directional drilling and trenching in new cable. these guys can show you a lot.) Remember this too, utility records are only a guide. don't take them for gospel.

    it might take you a bit longer to do a ticket but not having a damage is a great payoff. speed will come. in my company, I don't let a green apple run a job for over a year. if we get a one-call locator in, he is taught a totally different mindset for getting a job done.

    the important thing to remember is be patient, don't rush yourself. that is how mistakes are made.
    yahoo and LocatingAngel like this.

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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    Greetings Spudz! I am a fellow USICer - Hey! Quit using yer boss for a mentor! Yer boss ain't got the time to be your mentor and trust me, you will never learn how to locate properly hanging around that guy anyway......... just sayin'.

    Get your boss to hook you up a mentor to teach you the basics and essential shortcuts. Have your boss pick one that has 3 to 5 years field experience and one he believes will be a good fit for you. A veteran locator, as a mentor, will teach you how to breakdown a locate ticket (how to define the real scope of the work to be done), teach you how to read all your prints, teach you proper unbonding techniques, teach you how to accurately mark cables from all cabinet types, teach you how to properly use your transmitter and receiver. Getting hooked up with a good mentor will make this line of work easy and enjoyable for you.

    It is my opinion that most of our bosses are ones who couldn't cut it as a locator but kinda/sorta know how to motivate locators to be productive and accurate. When bosses come to help, bosses will make locators locate the entire ticket as written (Yuck!), double access all high-profiles (Yuck again!) and make locators locate utilities that are clearly out of the scope of the ticket "just to be sure we got everything" (Triple Yuck!). Bosses usually disappear when a locator could use a hand marking around crossboxes, cluttered slick huts and nasty intersections.

    Hey Spuds, I'm not sayin' all bosses are bad as locators or helpers. I have seen some good ones. Heck, my boss has helped me numerous times. All I'm sayin' is, be careful when choosing a mentor...............

    Whatever equipment you are using, get on YouTube and learn how to effectively use your transmitter and receiver. That's how I learned how to use my locating equipment. Always remember, The Cable Vine is a great source to get answers for any challenges you as a locator will be facing in the coming months.

    Good Luck Spuds! Luv Ya Man!






    Spuds MacKenzie can still get the ladies!


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    yahoo and LocatingAngel like this.

  9. #9
    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: To all utility Locators and contractors out there..........

    hope to hear from you about 2 years from now .............would LOVE to know what you think then ???
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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