Posted on 13 February, 2019

How to access and maintain subsurface utilities

Earth Radar are utility location experts

Earth Radar are innovating the utility locator industry

Utility maintenance is big business in Australia due to the importance and incredible scale of utilities installed across the nation. However, maintaining these critical assets is no easy feat, particularly utilities that are buried underground, under roads, footpaths and even buildings. 

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How are subsurface utilities maintained?

Underground utility assets like water, sewage, gas, and communication lines either degrade over time or undertake damage due to environmental stresses, where they need to be assessed and, if needed, repaired immediately. 


A key challenge with maintaining utilities is to actually accurately locate the utilities, followed by then actually exposing and getting access to the utility, where the utility line will typically be buried under dirt, cement or asphalt and require non-destructive excavation.


In light of this, modern innovations like radar location services and non-destructive digging have enabled companies like us to efficiently locate utilities and safely expose them.


Earth Radar

Common utility locating process:

  1. A utility locating/radar specialist visits a site and undertakes subsurface scanning to identify cables and pipes in the area. 
  2. Radar specialist passes on utility location information to our non-destructive digging experts (both on-site marking and digital data). 
  3. Our non-destructive excavation experts then undertake a hydro excavation with the help of an augmented vacuum excavation truck (VAC Truck). This activity sees pressurised water jets used to break apart the ground while a vacuum funnel simultaneously removed the excavated soil, eventually resulting in the subsurface utilities being completely exposed. 
  4. Once the utilities have been exposed, assessment and repairs take place. 
  5. Once maintenance is complete, our excavation professionals refill the excavated site and rebury the utilities.


What are underground utilities?

Underground utilities are pipes and cabling that is buried underground and responsible for the transit of public utilities like water, sewage, gas, and electricity. They are almost everywhere, under your backyard, under footpaths, roadways, parks, and even the floors of lakes, rivers and oceans.


What is utility locating?

Utility locating is a critical practice in underground asset maintenance that involves the use of modern radar technology to scan underground and identify the specific location of utility lines. This enables excavators a visual map or where to specifically dig, helping to mitigate time lost on inaccurate digs and, most significantly, avoid a line strike.

What is non-destructive digging?

Non-destructive digging refers to a suite of modern excavation practices that utilise either pressurised air or water to excavate around utilities, opposed to using traditional methods that involve an excavation machine and manual shovel excavation. Traditional excavation practices they don’t offer the same level of safety, precision or clean utility exposure that you get with non-destructive digging, hydro excavation, air excavation, and vacuum excavation.

Utility locating is big business!

Contact VAC Group today!

If you are looking for reliable utility location and non-destructive digging services in Australia, give us a call on 1300 822 834.

For more information on our asset detection services, click here. 

Contact VAC Group today to arrange a personalised obligation-free quote.

Note: Certification to ISO 9001, 14001 and AS/NZS 14001 is limited to South East Queensland Operations.

PO Box 528, Ormeau QLD 4208

VAC Group is Australia’s leaders in non-destructive digging, vacuum excavation, utility locating and underground services protection.

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