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Thread: Tell me how you do it over there.

  1. #1
    Junior Member Gas Man's Avatar
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    Default Tell me how you do it over there.

    G'Day all,

    Really interested to find out a little more about how the locating industry operates over there.

    Any one with a little time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and give me some information would be appreciated. Am happy to reciprocate if anyone is interested in how we do it out here.

    avagoodday
    Jeff
    www.provac.net.au

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    Senior Member Hurricane9's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Well, basically, for contract work, it goes like this:

    1. Someone calls they state's One Call Center (as required by State Law) and explain the basics of the work, who is digging, where they are digging, the duration and type of project. In return, they are given a date that their ticket will be cleared to start digging on, what facilities are in the general area, and their ticket number.

    2. That ticket is then transmitted to all of the utilities that are listed on the ticket. In turn, those utilities transmit the ticket to the contract company that does their work, usually automatically.

    3. The locator gets the ticket, and bitches and complains about a crappy ticket that came in, and goes to the site within the time it's due(on paper that looks good) and marks the ticket. If there are any special concerns regarding the ticket or marking instructions, the locator will call the contractor to ask for clarification, or issue any warnings, ( I got a shallow tone on that gas line, so expose it carefully, ect....), log it, picture it, bill it, then drive to the local gas station to get a soda, and go do the next locate.

    You get the general idea. It varies from state to state, but that's the general idea behind it here. How does it go by you?

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    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    The type of Locating work I do is completely different than contract locating. The proper terminology for the work I perform is Subsurface Utility Engineering or SUE. The basic concept is the same, we are locating underground utilites to prevent damage but goes quite a bit deeper.

    Difference # 1
    We typically locate utilites on a large scale under a specific contract usually with a civil engineering firm who is in the process of developing or redeveloping a specific site. We are usually tasked to locate ALL of the underground utilities within that site including the active, abandoned, private, public, etc. This work is done early in the engineering design phase of the project. After the marking is done, the markings and structures are surveyed in either by in-house surveyors, or a survey subcontractor. Maps are generated of the underground utility systems, and usually delivered to the client in CAD or Microstation format.

    Difference # 2
    After the engineers have reviewed the information and integrated the underground (and above ground) untilities into their design, and the utility conflicts are identified. Most of the time (but not always), the civil client will ask us to excavate Test Holes, or Potholes, or Daylighting, there are many names for the work using vacuum excavation units, on the utilities in conflict to pinpoint the exact horizontal and vertical positions of those conflicting utilites. This aids their design process considerably. They will use the Test Hole information to decide where the new utilites will have to be placed, where the building, garages, etc. can be placed. Or will tell them which utilities will have to be relocated to facilitiate their designs. A survey is typically also performed after the test holes are complete, and those results are incorporated into their designs.

    Difference # 3
    We do mark utilities for the contractors as well. I have found that we do more of the marking with the contractors on sites that have private utilities, or places the Contract Locators will not go. These are typically Airports, Sewer Treatment Plants, College Campuses, Military Bases, Private Corporate Campuses, I could go on all day. In places where there are public utilites and/or private utilities we cannot alleviate the contractors responsibility to call in a marking ticket as described by Hurricane.

    Difference # 4
    We work for everyone that has a need for utilities to be located, we have performed work for everyone beginning with the homeowners all of the way through the Federal Government. And includes the utility owners themselves, and frequently get called to come behind and verify the markings of the Contract locators.

    Difference # 5
    This one may not sit well with some of the other members here but, I can't change it. SUE firms tend to pay better with at least comparable or better benefits, including bonuses etc. Our focus is much higher on getting the work done right and much less on daily production as we are usually on larger sites. Our guys can spend anywhere between 1 hour to 6 weeks on a single jobsite locating ALL of the underground utilities. Our clients expect us to be right on the money every time without exception. So yes, I don't push daily production but I do expect nothing but 100% quality work from all of my field guys. SUE guys typically will have to travel very frequently going to where the work is, as there aren't very many SUE companies here in the US.

    Difference # 6
    As we have discussed on this site before, SUE is often considered a "luxury" and is very frequently subject to being cut from a budget when project owners put the squeeze on project costs. Our guys often find themselves with only 30% (or less) of the utility records for any given site and do have to work very hard, and spend a great deal of time verifying their work is correct.

    If I were to list all of the differences this post would be three full pages, I'll spare everyone the droning on. I think I have covered the basics while giving you a picture of the work my firm performs. Feel free to ask any questions here, as there are a few of us SUE guys hanging around here.
    Last edited by ifinditunderground; November 2nd, 2008 at 11:24 AM. Reason: OCD Sucks.
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    Senior Member Hurricane9's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Well, when you put it like that.........hehe

    Nicely said. I have no experience with SUE, so you taught me a little here. Thanks.

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    Right Wing Conspirator GWJ_CAS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Hey there Gas Man and welcome to the vine!

    I have some friends over your way who may actually be your competitors, Ben and Neil over at Vac-U-Digga. They have licensed our 3D Radar Tomography technology. Great guys, they spent a few weeks with us here in the states, now it is my turn to spend some time down their way...

    As for how we do it over here...my firm is sort of a hybrid of the "Contract Locating" field and the "SUE" field. We do all of the above, one division performs contract locating for 24 different clients comprised of municipal governments, publicly and privately held utility companies. Both of these facets have been eloquently explained above, so I couldn't do any justice by rambling on.

    One of the key differences in the vacuum excavation area my be soil types. From my conversations with the Vac-U-Digga folks, they tend to use hydro almost exclusively where we tend to use air vac (dry) almost exclusively.

    I don't recall learning how you guys get locate requests. Is there a "One Call" system in AU? Also, what is your damage prevention law like? Is it a national law, or regionalized? Can you give us some specifics?

    Cheers,

  6. #6
    Junior Member Gas Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Thanks guy’s for the great answers.

    Our system here tends to be more related to the SUE system that “ifinditunderground” described. That said however there are locators that are actually employed by the asset (utility) owner who go out and find just their own services.

    In the main we are directly contracted by the company that wants to do a certain development on a particular piece of land or in a particular area. Usually you would be employed, under contract, to these organizations for the duration of the project.

    Often, and especially for Government work, you would tender for the work and need to go through a selection process to be chosen for the job. Another method commonly used is to be “pre-approved” and placed on a suppliers list. This is a list of companies that offer a similar service that the government department can call on to do the work. To get on the “pre-approval” list the locating company needs to provide extensive details of the company – company structure, insurances, staffing, accreditation and training details, equipment, hourly rates, response times, environmental policy, workplace health and safety policy, code compliance. Ect. Ect. Ect but once on the list you usually stay on it for a couple of years before having going through the process again.

    We are often called in at the initial planning stage of the project – to determine and identify the underground services in the area. And as I said previously we are contacted and contracted by the individual company. Once the terms are agreed upon we would normally order the Dial Before You Dig Plans. DBYD is a national “referral” organization, they accept the call (though we would normally do it on-line), issue a job number and contact the asset owners that have assets in the area covered by your scope of works. They issue a referral sheet listing all this information with a list of asset owners, contact numbers and a unique identification number called a sequence number, if you have any problems, this is the number that you quote to the asset owner. You need to deal directly with the asset owner if there are problems.

    The one major draw back of the system is not all asset owners subscribe to the DBYD system – therefore you do not get all the plans for ALL the asset owners in a particular area.

    For those asset owners that do subscribe to the system their plans are sent by them within two working days, they would be sent to me (locating company) usually in electronic form. We print them out, place them in a job folder and schedule the job to be done. One of our locators would then go to the job site and systematically work through the plans of each of the services and mark their locations.

    Depending on the size of the project you would normally next meet with a representative of the development company or their surveyors. You would walk through the job and show them what you have found and marked. At this stage you would normally advise them of what they need to do in the way of potholing to meet the duty of care for each of the asset owners.

    This is probably the most critical section – if something is hit, but you can demonstrate that your have taken ALL REASONABLE STEPS TO MEET YOUR DUTY OF CARE then you are pretty much covered against litigation. So in other words you need to demonstrate that:

    1. You have obtained all DBYD plans
    2. You have electronically located and marked everything on those plans
    3. You have positively identified, by potholing those assets that conflict with the proposed scope of works. This potholing needs to meet the requirements of the asset owner.
    4. Fulfill all other requirements placed on you by the asset owner.

    If all of the above is carried out you are pretty much covered if there is a strike.

    As previously mentioned each of the asset owners will have their own duty of care requirement, and this is where many locators come unstuck – they do not know what is required. For example ENERGEX (our local electricity authority) requires the following:

    1. Potholing for all work within 2.5m of your marked location.
    2. If you are running parallel to the service within 2.5m you need to pothole every 4m

    Most of the gas companies require on site representation when working near high pressure transmission lines.

    We did a job last week where they required inspections on site before we were allowed to pot hole.

    The other thing that I mentioned previously was that not all asset owners subscribe to DBYD, in these instances you need to use your best judgment and experience to work out where the asset is/might be located. Some times you can contact the owner and they may send someone out to give an “approximate” location of what is in the area.

    The job that we did last week had oil feed lines running to the BP refinery in the area and crossing the proposed alignment, BP do not subscribe to DBYD and when contacted sent out a couple of their men who did not have a clue where anything was. They provided some plans that were virtually unreadable and left. We located and potholed 8 oil transfer lines – hope that was all there were!!!!

    Any way that gives a bit of an insight to our methods – and happy to try and answer any other specific queries.

    avagooday
    Jeff

    www.provac.net.au

  7. #7
    Conservative Meanie ifinditunderground's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Sounds like the best of both worlds.......fascinating.
    There is a fine line between "Hobby" and "Mental Illness."
    "America isn't free, in America you are free to follow the rules." -Anthony Cumia


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    Senior Member USIC1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tell me how you do it over there.

    Error response*****
    Last edited by USIC1; November 2nd, 2008 at 06:57 PM.

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