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Thread: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    I went to see my old boss today. We talked about a few things. One of the items discussed was the future of contract locating. I have never given much thought to where the industry is headed. However, Ed, being a utility locating company owner, has given it much thought and keeps up to date on the industry as much as he can. He mentioned that Utility Locating is headed in a new direction. A direction that I find to be dangerous to the industry... or rather, to the utility companies plant. He believes that due to the high cost of locating that utility companies will no longer provide locating services for free to excavators. Instead, when an excavator calls in a locate request, the utility owner will provide the excavator with prints to the dig area and it will be up to the excavator to find the utilities themselves.

    This is something that has been discussed before. I looked for the post but I'm having trouble locating it. (No pun intended) If I remember correctly a gas company in Canada doesn't do locates. They just send the excavator prints and depends on the excavator to find the utility.

    I thought this was a bad idea. I still think it is but I'm open to changes if they work.

    He also mentioned that he is contacted by some of the big excavators to come out and locate utilities covered in a locate ticket just because the excavator doesn't want to deal with the local locating company. They just want to get the locates done without getting calls asking when the excavator plans on digging and how far in one day etc.... You've all been there and know what I'm talking about. He said this is becoming more frequent.

    If this is the future of locating then it might be a good idea to start your own private locate company and get your name established before it comes to this. Competition will be stiff.

    Any thoughts on this?
    Last edited by TheCableVine; August 15th, 2015 at 06:48 PM.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Senior Member CableAvoidanceTool's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    I absolutely agree that some changes should be made on the end of excavators getting all of these locating services for free.

    Honestly, if they are actually paying for one call locates, they will make a better effort to communicate where they are actually digging. How many times have we as locators pulled up on a locate request, just to find it wasn't premarked? Even though it said it WAS premarked on the locate request? If they are paying for this locating, surely they will make a better attempt to get the best out of thier investment and make damn sure the area they are working in is premarked.


    Another thing - I want to add about the 'start your own locating company' comment. Electromagnetic locating is what we all already know how to do. This is the biggest but not only piece of the puzzle. If you are honest about starting a private locating company, you need to offer:

    GPR locating. Expensive to purchase the units, and tough to get the right training outside of working for someone else that already has GPR units and the work to justify one.

    Water leak detection. Equipment is reasonable in price, but you need the training and experience. That's tough to get unless you have done alot leaks working for someone else.

    Electrical Fault finding. Yes there is a market for this, but you need an A-frame with a compatible transmitter.

    Concrete scanning for indoors drilling between walls, floors, and ceilings. There is a wonderful market for this, and it's perfect to do in the winter while the excavation slows down outdoors. Not sure how expensive the equipment is, but training is again tough to come by.



    Those are the 5 core services you need to offer if you are doing underground utility locating privately. If you go out there and only have electromagnetic locating to offer, then your business will never grow beyond a 'hobby' status and you will still need to find a full time job with someone else.
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    I want to say Australia does similar way. They give you the prints for the area you call in, and then you tell them if you want it located or not, depending if lines are in conflict for you. They also have lots more small private locate firms you can hire who will pull the prints and locate everything for you. Not sure how they work out damage fault though. I know some small companies here can't handle some jobs because a damage to line could sink them.

    I like how it's more personal though. You're there to work that job and you know who the boss and there's communication. I roam and work in a lot of commercial business areas and hate getting tickets where the property has no idea why you're there and they've never heard of locating and aren't clear why you need in their basement, storage room, etc.. The person on the ticket is just an office worker who knows nothing either. Locating in the states is treated as a nuisance they're forced to deal with and just want their jobs done and don't understand or help work with issues. Everywhere else it seem to be brought more into the actual construction process.

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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Hmmm I am a private locator and have never had a single request for leak survey or gpr. We do power fault from time to time but kicked the A frame to the curb a long time ago. We use tdr for all our fault finding catv telco and pwer. Concrete scanning is done with a gpr and we have only 1 call in the last few years. We do spend a lot of time gps in utilities for all kinds of people. We also spend a good deal of time going behind the poor contract guys that just don't have time to do all the tickets. design companies call quite a bit for SUE work also, another thing the poor contract guys can't do. Who is going to waste time on a topo when they're buried with dig tickets.

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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    The marking of all utilities in the US, and Canada also I hear, is mandated by state law. For the utility companies the option to say here are some prints go figure it out yourselves does not exist.
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Something has to to give. Some not all contractors are just flat out ridiculous, calling in tickets just because they plan on being there in 5 months and calling in remarks every 14 days for something they haven't even touched yet. Either slow them down, charge them or make it where one company(USIC) cant have EVERY contract in the book almost. Ive noticed me doing one ways and another company here doing two ways that we are usualy the first ones there. The usic guys just cant keep up. Maybe make it where the company has to staff according to ticket count. Like 811 get a list of employees in the area doing the utility. I know my company will run thin on guys just to save that buck. Or let the contractors get that first ticket for free but charge a price for each remark. And if caught calling in the same job as a normal notice instead of remark to avoid that price fine their ass. This year and last year has been completely un real. I cant complain to much because I only do 1 way. But I am covering at least 7 counties and one being our state capital. And all these other semi large cities around it.



    No matter what it is, if it is free people can and will abuse it.
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    Senior Member UULC's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy121 View Post

    No matter what it is, if it is free people can and will abuse it.
    Just look at the welfare system. Free and is almost akwys abused.
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    Senior Member The Big-E's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    I'm all for more responsibility being cast on to the excavators and companies/homeowners who dig. Especially contractors who's sole purpose of being in business is to excavate. Most 1-dig laws around the country allow excavators way too much leeway to abuse the system that gives them free locates.
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    Senior Member UULC's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Florida enacted the One Call System in 1992. Ever since the contracting world has abused it. Facility Owner pay $.79 a ticket. That amounts in high Hundreds of thousands of dollars for facility owners. If the contractors had to pay for a portion of the tickets the tickets would become less. I had just today a contractor (office staff) recall tickets in that the job has been done since March. The field person for that company has stated they have a punch list that they have to complete. I asked that they call NEW tickets in for the areas they need to work. When he would not I went and painted all new sidewalks, curbs and asphalt. Before the city will accept the project the contractor has to remove the paint.

    I had some nasty calls from him and flat out told him he should have listened to me. I now just clear them out.

    The way tickets are done now has to change for everyones benifit. I hate to be an ASS to the contractor but if you make my job difficult I will make your also.

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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Got a few here as well, 2 streets clear, 4 more in a UG development. All new water mains and services going in. Contractor told me to my face he wanted it all marked even tho he is starting on the clear streets and "MIGHT" be hitting the UG streets in Oct. I told him I would give him the first UG street and not to bother calling the others in until next year. My boss stopped up to help me finish up and said just give him the crossings for now since they won't get to the services this year.

    Then there is the highway project that is up to about 15-18 different tickets now

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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Quote Originally Posted by CableAvoidanceTool View Post
    Honestly, if they are actually paying for one call locates, they will make a better effort to communicate where they are actually digging. How many times have we as locators pulled up on a locate request, just to find it wasn't premarked? Even though it said it WAS premarked on the locate request? If they are paying for this locating, surely they will make a better attempt to get the best out of thier investment and make damn sure the area they are working in is premarked.
    What about all the times I go out to a job, pre mark it, wait until my ticket clears, and I've got no locates - especially from USIC? Now, I've got a crew with machines sitting around and doing nothing - that I'm paying, and now I've got to wait 2 hours and hope that the "locator" that they sent it to will actually show up in the 2 hour window. I've got MULTIPLE tickets this year of 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th requests for no-show to mark.

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    Premium Member daman1's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayc View Post
    What about all the times I go out to a job, pre mark it, wait until my ticket clears, and I've got no locates - especially from USIC? Now, I've got a crew with machines sitting around and doing nothing - that I'm paying, and now I've got to wait 2 hours and hope that the "locator" that they sent it to will actually show up in the 2 hour window. I've got MULTIPLE tickets this year of 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th requests for no-show to mark.

    That's when you blame the company that bid so low to get a contract that they can barely afford to staff themselves for dig season. There's a spring rush and an end of summer rush when there's often no way one tech can handle the increase volume in his area when they bid that low. I've seen many quality locators throw up their hands because they get overwhelmed and just stop answering the phone. "I'll do what I can" becomes the motto.
    There are a lot of good contractors out there who do everything right and will work with the locator who are sick of the status quo too. The bad ones distract from taking care of the good ones. I think the utilities are also partly to blame for being too short sighted to pass up a low-ball/low quality bid. Something definitely has to change.
    phoenix827 likes this.

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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayc View Post
    What about all the times I go out to a job, pre mark it, wait until my ticket clears, and I've got no locates - especially from USIC? Now, I've got a crew with machines sitting around and doing nothing - that I'm paying, and now I've got to wait 2 hours and hope that the "locator" that they sent it to will actually show up in the 2 hour window. I've got MULTIPLE tickets this year of 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th requests for no-show to mark.

    This is funny. How about your Locators do the locates correctly.

    YOU are not a contractor.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Quote Originally Posted by locatepro View Post
    This is funny. How about your Locators do the locates correctly.

    YOU are not a contractor.
    You mean like when I hit an unmarked power line last week? Then the next day another contractor hit another unmarked power line sending one of his guys to the hospital? Oh, did I mention the unmarked gas main and service I crossed on the same job? Yeah, real funny. I'm dying of laughter.

    U
    Sure
    It's
    Correct

    ^ - That didn't get started because of the wonderful job they do.
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    Senior Member ProfessionalLocator's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Contract Utility Locating.

    Charging excavators for locates has a negative effect on the locating industry.

    Maryland law allows counties or municipalities to charge for locates and Anne Arundel County does so. The result is excavators put the maximum length a locate is allowed to be rather than break a long job into multiple tickets. Want to do a 5 miles of road locate? We have them in Maryland.


    Ans since there is a charge for each ticket they put as many lont on one ticket they can. So mark lot 112, 15 and 267 on one ticket rather than three.

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