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

  1. #16
    Mke is offline
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    Quote Originally Posted by mattm211 View Post
    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.
    Unfortunately I think this is pretty typical. Where i'm only a couple of utilities mark their own plant. City Marks Water,sewer, and street lights. Typically the water and sewer departments weed out most of the tickets by type of work. If the work is not taking place in the street, or not deep enough to touch the sewers they won't show up. When the sewer guys do show up, they are advised not to mark the lines too close together. Typically you only have a Mark in the street where the service taps into the main. So if your doing work in the ROW and not in the street, you won't even notice.

    The Power company throws me off the most. They believe that the locating position is cake so they put the guys who are close to retirement there. Locating isn't their main concern though, typically these guys or linemen and they do trouble shooting new services, and disconnects. There has been more then one occasion where they forgot their locating equipment at the shop and have asked to borrow mine.(no lie) I have watched a guy hop out of a bucket truck and look at the riser coming down the pole... Stand on the Vault and draw a semi straight line to the pole. Unfortunately it wasn't a straight line.

    But I have to qualify the above statement by saying that i've seen just as many no shows or mis-marks by the contract guys. It comes down to who you are dealing with. Some contract guys are better then some in-house guys, like wise, some in house guys are better then contract guys. Its a coin flip.

    The only reason I question the numbers on this report, is because I know in my area most of the reporting agencies don't give numbers. The numbers usually come from the excavators and contract locating companies


  2. #17
    Senior Member sauroke's Avatar
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    Default Re: What's the Deal With Utility Company Locators?!!

    I guess it is a bit different here. As the water and sewer guy I usually show up before everyone else. I have recently run into discrepancies on a set of as builts and an engineering map that tossed me for a loop. As the noob, I don't like to feel like I need help on a lot of locates, since I have been locating for over 7 years now, but when it comes to no markers, no valves, no hydrants, poly services to the meters, concrete asbestos lines, sugar sand, a steel gas main, and dead batteries in my GPR. Yeah, I will ask for help.
    Most locators would have just put this ticket down as painted and flagged. they were putting in irrigation less than 12 inches, but since I am going to be doing this, or at least working for the same company for the next 20+ years, I would like to know what runs where. I guess it all comes down to what you expect from yourself. I have been trying to teach a guy who has been doing this off and on for 4 or more years how to trust his machine. He has had no training other than someone showing him induction with the transmitter. He knows where a lot of the stuff runs because he has been there to see it go in, but never trained well to locate it.
    I guess that is one reason I got the job, because I can teach and learn.

  3. #18
    Senior Member headcipher'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?
    As for the percentage of tickets done that is based solely on size of contractors versus in house. There's just more contractors who pay their people less and so they bid low and take the work. I can tell you that its not the case here. When we compared our stats to the last CGA dig report our crew was 25% more accurate and with far fewer at fault damages than contract locators in our state.

    Before someone tosses out that that is just on those who choose to report, let me say that statistic reporting is mandatory for the entire state of Colorado.

    Just like I'm sure you don't want to be lumped in with the worst locators in the contract field, don't assume we are all the same. Some of us do better than just good enough.

    If some company has less than stellar in-house locators, sooner or later it will bite them, then I guess we'll have another few contractors marking things.

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