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Thread: Ask The Driller

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Ask The Driller

    Hey guys,

    As some of you have gotten already, I'm not a locator, I'm an underground contractor that does a lot of directional boring, as well as trenching, plowing, vacuum excavating, etc... Well, I've noticed several posts on here talking about contractors and some of you wondering why they do what they do sometimes.

    No I can't answer the typical questions of, "What the hell was he thinking trying to expose that gas service with a backhoe?" or something like that, but I'd love to hear what kinds of things you guys run into and want clarification on.

    One reason I joined here was to get some insight into the locators and how you guys go about doing what you do, how you approach certain situations and picking up some tips and tricks along the way which would help me put my locator on your marks to verify something I might have a question on.

    Fire away.

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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Hope it's ok to ask you a couple questions. Are you on a first name basis with the locators. Do you have cell #s for the llocators and lead techs? Do you hook up after we locate to verify our marks and get depth ideas? Just curious.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Definitely, ask away.

    Names/numbers: Not really and I'll tell you why. I'm in IL, mostly in the Chicago-suburbs, and there are so many locators out here, and we work in so many different areas all over the state, not to mention in the neighboring states. If I'm on a big project for a while, then I'll have a chance to get to know the locators a little more, but typically we're able to finish our plant extension or replacement jobs in a day or 2 depending on the size/scope.

    I'll hook up to verify stuff if we really have a problem finding it, like if I have a crew hand digging 4'-5' down and 2'-3' on either side of the mark and they still haven't found anything, I'll hook up to verify, or if I need to find a depth on something under the road so we can vac it out, I'll hook up to it. This helps so the vac operator knows if he's looking at 3' area or the 10' area, also helps to know so you know what size hole to core in the road and what size vac you might bring out the job with you (ie: trailer vac vs. truck).

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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Directional boring.machines should be outlawed.

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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Bore rigs and locate machines both bad news in the wrong hands but it sounds like jayc is one of the good ones

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    Senior Member Wingfoot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller


    Greetings jayc! I am a senior USIC locator. I respect all excavation equipment and fear none. What have I got to fear if I always throw accurate paint? I have always shared, when asked, utility hook-up locations with any contractor who has a locate transmitter and receiver. I have never been burned by doing so. I doubt many of my fellow locators would be willing to do the same. I think I know why but I will keep those thoughts to myself.

    I have always strived to have a good working relationship with all my deep excavation contractors. Any company that calls in a deep-dig locate request in my small but congested area gets a telephone call by me. I introduce myself and give my work cell telephone number. In return, I want a copy of the scanned prints emailed to me as to know the real scope of the job, the name and telephone number of the on-site foreman, the number of drills to be used, start location and when potholing will begin. I will share with the excavator any unusual "quirks" about the planned dig site; rock or clay, possible high-profile conflicts, abandoned utilities, private utility conflicts, bad dogs, bad homeowners, etc. On big projects, I will share ideas for close parking spot locations for support equipment or rock piles - (out-of-towners get goosebumps when I share this info with them). I have never received, nor do I expect, accolades from my company for going the extra mile with my contractors (well, on second thought, maybe I have a few times), but my contractors seem to like it!

    That being said, there will always be a time when you need to contact the unknown locator that threw the paint for any particular job. Every located utility should have a flag. On that flag is labeled a dispatcher telephone number. That telephone number is good 24/7/365 and a live person will always answer the call. With the locate request number in hand, that dispatcher will know who holds the open ticket or who completed the closed ticket and is able to connect directly to that person immediately. The dispatcher will also be able to connect the caller directly to the immediate supervisor of the locator in question if desired. Just as a side note, I know of locators and supervisors that routinely screen their telephone calls but will always answer a call from corporate.

    USIC is in 29 states and one Providence in Canada. USIC is very prominent in Illinois. There is only one USIC dispatch telephone for the entire system - 800-778-9140. It does not matter where you are drilling, if you need to talk to the USIC locator that did the locate or that person's boss, with the locate request number in hand, action will be immediate once you call the above dispatch number.

    If you know a USIC locator will be marking your job and you want to be real proactive on a HOT job or whatever, you can talk to that USIC locator immediately after you call in the ticket. The system automatically assigned the job to a USIC locator the second you received the Request Number for your job. Hang up and then call the USIC dispatch 800 number with your request number and ask to speak to the locator assigned to the job literally seconds after you called in your ticket. That way you know who will be doing the work and get some preliminaries done way ahead of time.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    daman1 and Mark like this.

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    Senior Member superman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Wing, I respect your input, but I think your giving out too much info. I don't want every Tom, dick, & Harry that sticks a shovel in the ground knowing how to get ahold of me. Some of those guys expect you to hold their hand until their job is done, just sayin.
    union_YES likes this.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Sup, If you communicate the way Wing just laid out, the contractor has no reason to call but for clairification. (i.e. change of scope or the like.)

    We communicate similar to the way Wing does it and typically we don't get any call backs about our utilities. We do get the call back to help find other peoples utilities.

    If you just show up and paint, there is a natural distrust from the excavators. They feel if you don't explain your self, or make yourself available it is for a reason. When excavating they will track you down and call at the littlest sign of confusion. Do you get the call about how they are potholing and they are down 5' and can't find the utility you marked? Or how there is 3 marks and they only find 2 conduits? Or my favorite, "I know we told you we were going to start in this location, but we changed our mind and are starting over here where you havn't marked yet."

    In the local Utility coordinating meeting, we had a boring contractor come in and bitch about the public locates. Through all of his bitching, his main concern was not having an open line of communication with the locators.

    I also believe that the locating companies are the ones that design the process to where it is difficult for the "less than seasoned" locators to communicate with contractors.

    As for hand holding..... The guy who Trained me (swagman) He told me that we had to paint everything so that a 5yr old can understand it (liking all excavators to 5yr olds), and when dealing with 5 year olds there is alot of hand holding.

    Mke
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Wing said what I was trying to. I have one on one contact with 99% of the contractors in my area. I help them they help me kind of mutual respect thing if jayc was coming into my area to bore I would call him with my # and ask him to call if he has any questions etc.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    I am jealous you guys have things that good where yall at . I have learned something totally different in my few short years as a locator ......have as little as possble relations with the contractor . I get a ticket on my load, I mark the ticket no matter what it reads, close it out go to the next ticket. IF contractor calls....one or both of us will be angry by the end of conversation ...
    superman likes this.
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    Sup, If you communicate the way Wing just laid out, the contractor has no reason to call but for clairification. (i.e. change of scope or the like.)

    We communicate similar to the way Wing does it and typically we don't get any call backs about our utilities. We do get the call back to help find other peoples utilities.

    If you just show up and paint, there is a natural distrust from the excavators. They feel if you don't explain your self, or make yourself available it is for a reason. When excavating they will track you down and call at the littlest sign of confusion. Do you get the call about how they are potholing and they are down 5' and can't find the utility you marked? Or how there is 3 marks and they only find 2 conduits? Or my favorite, "I know we told you we were going to start in this location, but we changed our mind and are starting over here where you havn't marked yet."

    In the local Utility coordinating meeting, we had a boring contractor come in and bitch about the public locates. Through all of his bitching, his main concern was not having an open line of communication with the locators.

    I also believe that the locating companies are the ones that design the process to where it is difficult for the "less than seasoned" locators to communicate with contractors.

    As for hand holding..... The guy who Trained me (swagman) He told me that we had to paint everything so that a 5yr old can understand it (liking all excavators to 5yr olds), and when dealing with 5 year olds there is alot of hand holding.

    Mke
    That's just it, if they call me when they have went 5 ft saying they can't find anything, then all I can do is come back out there and mark it again in the same place. All that does is waste my time and piss me off when I have 50-75 other tickets to do. Yes, your also right about marking 3 and they find 2 then call bitching cause their losing time and money. What do they expect us to do, mark it somewhere else? Keep digging.

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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Quote Originally Posted by yahoo View Post
    I am jealous you guys have things that good where yall at . I have learned something totally different in my few short years as a locator ......have as little as possble relations with the contractor . I get a ticket on my load, I mark the ticket no matter what it reads, close it out go to the next ticket. IF contractor calls....one or both of us will be angry by the end of conversation ...
    Now there's a wise man.
    yahoo likes this.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Quote Originally Posted by superman View Post
    That's just it, if they call me when they have went 5 ft saying they can't find anything, then all I can do is come back out there and mark it again in the same place. All that does is waste my time and piss me off when I have 50-75 other tickets to do. Yes, your also right about marking 3 and they find 2 then call bitching cause their losing time and money. What do they expect us to do, mark it somewhere else? Keep digging.
    OK, you try hand digging 5' down and 2'-3' on either side of the mark in compact clay with rock in it, or during a drought, and you'll change your "keep digging" attitude. There are A LOT of times I've done this after being 5'-6' down and not finding anything, then having the locator come back out and now they're getting a signal "a few inches" or "a few feet" away from the original mark.

    And I've been known to throw a shovel at a locator and say, "Well you dig it up then." when they come at me with that attitude. Don't get me wrong, I've dealt with a lot of really nice locators, but I've also dealt a lot with the, "It's not my problem it's yours." locators.

    Case in point: Over the summer, I've got a crew hand digging in a particularly bad area (ground wise), trying to locate a fiber optic line inside of an old gas pipeline (the pipeline company sold the pipe to the fiber company who pulled their fiber through it. We hand dug 6' down and 3' on either side of the mark, couldn't find it, called 811 and told them to send the locator out to verify his mark. When he got there, he told me he couldn't get a good tone on it, and that it's up to me to dig it up. After some pretty heated words got exchanged, I told him, "I dug up more than the required distance on either side of your mark and I'm going to drill it. If it gets hit, it's on you." So he broke out the paint can and drew new lines (without actually using a locator) 10' on either side of his original mark. Supervisors got involved, the Village got involved, f this.

    Excavators are not going to put up with that kind of attitude, and I've told more than one locator that they better change their tune or I'll put them in the hole.

    I understand you've got a job to do, so do we. Bad locates are not going to do anything but piss us off at each other.
    ifinditunderground likes this.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Quote Originally Posted by orangeboots View Post
    Wing said what I was trying to. I have one on one contact with 99% of the contractors in my area. I help them they help me kind of mutual respect thing if jayc was coming into my area to bore I would call him with my # and ask him to call if he has any questions etc.
    This is to everybody on here, what kind of markets do you work in? Out here, the market is completely saturated with directional boring contractors, and locators. Truthfully, I don't think any of the locators out here would think to do something like this because they're so overworked that they just don't have the time. I barely run into the same locator twice, even if I'm working in the same town, or on the same project.

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    Senior Member jayc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ask The Driller

    Also, this was supposed to be an, "Ask the driller" thread, not a, "Lets bitch about the driller" thread.

    Just sayin'.
    Mark, daman1, phoenix827 and 1 others like this.

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