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Thread: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Exclamation What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Why are locators who are with utility companies performing so much worse than contract locators?

    Statistics from CGA's 2011 DIRT Report (Damage Investigation Reporting Tool):

    Percent of all locate tickets completed:
    Contract Locator: 90%
    Utility Locator: 10%

    Locate Marks Visible (on damage site):
    Contract Locator: 91%
    Utility Locator%: 78%

    Locate Marks Correct (on damage site):
    Contract Locator: 87%
    Utility Locator: 74%


    Utility locators have less work, less stress AND more time to spend per job,
    they SHOULD be outperforming contract locators, but they're not....

    Utility guys, contract locators, what do you all think is the problem?
    Thanks.
    Last edited by Nb22x; February 1st, 2013 at 10:51 PM.

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    Senior Member RD_Wrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Not a clue. I'm in house and don't get damages/respond 100% of the time. But then, I'm an old school contract tech., so that may explain it.

    Oh, and howdy boys! LTNS!
    Character is what you are in the dark. It is the things you do, when nobody can see, and nobody will ever know, that define who you are as an individual.

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!


    Hey Nb22x - My guess is the Utility Locator has priorities. Journeymen duties/tickets get done first during the day. Locate tickets get done last during the day. What locate request tickets that are undone at the end of the day gets put back into the pool to be re-assigned the next day. If something gets cut due to a late to locate, no BIG deal. A repair crew will be dispatched to the cut for repairs.

    Also, a Utility Locator's first-line will not apply pressure to the journeymen workers to get locates done on time as would a Contract Locator's first-line.

    -------------------------------------------------------

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    Administrator TheCableVine's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    I'm with Wing. Most likely the majority of tickets are thrown in the trash at the beginning of the day. Tickets are only responded to if they believe they should. And, as Wing said, in-house Utility Locators have other more important duties to perform.

    Over here in I-Dee-Ho the utility companies that do in-house have dedicated locators. They usually have their marks on the ground before I arrive on the job, so I think it is also a matter of budget constraints.
    "Change does not always equal progress."

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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    When
    I see such a trend of miss-marks marks I think of several things.

    One is poor training.

    Two is workload beyond what can be completed in allotted time and management insisting ti clear the tickets anyway.

    Three is lack of accountability. If the two reasons above are not the problem then management is not holding the locators accountable for the quality of their work.

    Item three also extends to management not being concerned with damages as they fix them themselves thinking that it is cheaper to fix the damages than to spend the money to do the job right. (I had FlowMole doing a job years ago that refused to test pit marks, just shot the bore through the marks hoping they would not hit anything and they hit everything. Their reasoning was it was cheaper to pay for damages than to test pit) . A very dangerous to public safety attitude. If anybody thinks CATV is not a safety issue they are thinking of when phone service was on phone lines only, customers cannot call 911 when the CATV is cut.

    In Maryland there is one utility that has not been marking their underground plant contrary to state law and the local governing body is taking them to task for it.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    that's the way it always will be !!! marking lines is NOT top priority for them ....everything else is ! esp. turning customers svc's on and off !!!! heehee
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Senior Member USIC1's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    need more statistical details - to the best of my knowledge alot of in-house municipalities involve water and sewer... water and sewer is probably the most likely to be a problem utilizing standard inductive/ conductive equipment


    and if in house involves maintenance guys at institutions and industrial sites winging it that would add up fast too....

    I remember doing hourly private locates for a contract locate outfit... there was an invoice clause for private locates which included no liability for missing stuff- mostly private utilities on industrial company sites... so you did nt have to sweat a private locate if you needed to get back to managing your area...

    without the statistical details - who knows...
    Last edited by USIC1; February 2nd, 2013 at 10:43 PM.

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    Senior Member dragon's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nb22x View Post
    Why are locators who are with utility companies performing so much worse than contract locators?

    Statistics from CGA's 2011 DIRT Report (Damage Investigation Reporting Tool):

    Percent of all locate tickets completed:
    Contract Locator: 90%
    Utility Locator: 10%

    Locate Marks Visible (on damage site):
    Contract Locator: 91%
    Utility Locator%: 78%

    Locate Marks Correct (on damage site):
    Contract Locator: 87%
    Utility Locator: 74%


    Utility locators have less work, less stress AND more time to spend per job,
    they SHOULD be outperforming contract locators, but they're not....

    Utility guys, contract locators, what do you all think is the problem?
    Thanks.
    Amazing , i have never seen stats in this area . I wonder if it is that they dont have to worry about being fired or they just dont care . I had a power company guy locate my service when i installed a fence . Even though he had the equip. he pulled out a set of rods . He marked a path about 8 feet wide to cover his butt i guess . And when the local contract locator came out he did a good job and was pretty accur . Go figure .

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    Mke
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    This sounds wierd, but I'm in the same boat with Usic1. Need more data.

    I've read the CGA reports before and there are a lot of variables that are skipped out on in the final #s.

    For example; I'm pretty sure either in the front or the back of said report there is a qualifying statement about "this report only shows reporting companies...etc. etc.".

    I know that the agency I work for does not report any damages to the local One-call agency. Mostly because they have genaric forms and those forms are filled out by people other then the locators.

    In this CGA report I question the section "Locate Marks Visible" According to who? I've had more then one contractor not see any paint. Hell, I had one in december try to roll me firmly under the bus. However, when he started cleaning up the area near the recieving pit, miracle upon miricles happened. The paint started to become visible as he hosed down the pavement.

    Likewise with "Locate Marks Correct" section. I'm not just sticking up for the in house guys on this, I think the contract locators #'s are probably high as well.

    As for the argument about the in-house guys and their accuracy.... It comes down to what they are locating. If they are locating water and sanitary, there is a major difference locating elec, phone, tv, then those other two. I talked to a City locator supervisor for the sewer division, he stated that if they can get within 10' they are ok with that. He actually said" we don't paint our marks too close together so the contractor doesn't get a feeling that that is the exact location of the line".

    mke

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    Senior Member The Big-E's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Let's not paint with broad strokes (so to speak) when describing In-house and contract locators. To me, it comes down to each areas. I suppose this study is Nationwide?? And the overall figures are showing more in favor of the contract locators. Who commissioned this study?? USIC maybe?? It sure would help them to have numbers like that on their side when they are trying to gather more contracts... I'm not totally disputing these numbers, I just know that it is not the case in my neck of the woods...

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    Senior Member sauroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    As a recent switch from contract locating to utility employee, I have yet to see a ticket go "late" with the utility. My marks, when I have to mark something out, are dead on for the most part because I take the time to ensure that they are as opposed to contract locating where it was a rush to get through. I find more "ghost" marks being put down in the old area I worked in, knowing what they are attempting to locate.
    I have to agree, some things are more difficult, and a sight near impossible to locate, such as a reclaimed or raw water line that is PVC and over 8 ft. In the ground. That could be a difference, but I think those numbers are absolutely wrong. It sounds very fudged. I read on the DIRT that out of all locates performed, if the locator was out there and marked before excavation, their marks were %99.997 correct. I just don't see your numbers matching up, and I don't see any utility company not responding to a ticket as they get fined for not responding.

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    Senior Member Nb22x's Avatar
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    Question Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Hey Sauroke,
    I'm sure the numbers are averages of different one call centers across the nation.
    So they're broad generalizations.
    The link: CGA Annual Reports
    Screenshots of data are attached.

    ca4.jpgca5.jpgc-sac.jpgca1.jpgca2.jpgca3.jpg

    Also Sauroke, how is the transition from contract to utility?

    I'm looking to apply to my local gas company.
    Difficult finding a job?
    What do they expect of you?
    What are the differences as far as policies andday to day operations from contract?

    Thanks.

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    Senior Member sauroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Also Sauroke, how is the transition from contract to utility?

    I'm looking to apply to my local gas company.
    Difficult finding a job?
    What do they expect of you?
    What are the differences as far as policies andday to day operations from contract?

    Thanks.[/QUOTE]


    OK, let me see, yes it was difficult to find. I had applied at 3 or 4 over the course of 5 or 6 years. I found out about a locator retiring for one of the utilities, and over the course of 3 years, got an in and introduced myself to as many in charge people I could find.
    As to what they expect, locates to be done, but I have time to do it as accurately as possible. I also note updates to prints, as builts, and GPS coordinates. I try to do other things to learn more, construction inspections, landscape plans come in for review, checking valves, etc.
    The transition was easy for the most part, I already knew the basics, but finding things using induction only was a new learning experience, especially with PVC water mains.
    There really is a big difference in day to day operations, I may not leave the office until 9 am, due to finding as builts from the 60's or meetings with upper management. The biggest thing for me is how much stress was lifted off my shoulders. I get ALL the tools I need for the job, if we don't have it, we can get it. There is no micromanaging, no buying tools and hoping to get compensated, very little overtime (which may turn some people off), and a sense of being a person, not a number.
    All utility companies run things differently, though. Hope this helps!
    superman likes this.

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    Senior Member The Big-E's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    I pretty much have had the same scenario as sauroke... and it's great...

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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Most recently, I have run into city employees and they've told me they've never seen the utility locate anything in 7 years. Once I started taking over for the utility guys, they started getting paint down on every job.

    Also, when I worked for a city public works dept. we'd basically pick and choose which jobs we wanted to mark water/sewer...never marked them all.

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