Utilities detection and mapping services

A Munitech technician locating steel water mains using an electromagnetic receiver. Data from the electromagnetic signal is displayed on the receiver’s screen.Munitech, part of the B&A Group, has introduced a new specialist utility detection and mapping facility.

Utility detection and mapping services are essential to providing accurate information on existing utilities infrastructure underground. Accurate information means that when maintenance or further construction work is to be done, no time is wasted on hand excavations; time and cost factors relating to utility diversions can be calculated during the planning phase of a project; and damage and interruptions to existing utilities are minimised. In addition, it ensures safety for workers who, without the correct information, could strike high voltage cables, gas or fuel mains during excavation work.

Chris Otto, operations technician at Munitech says, “Utility detection requires expert skills using non-intrusive methods to locate the exact type, size, position and depth of buried infrastructure. It is critical in reducing risk, ensuring time efficiency and minimising costs in every excavation or construction project.

“Before digging starts,” Otto says, “it is essential that all buried utilities likely to be affected by excavation or construction are located – including power, telephone and fibre optic cables, water and gas mains, wastewater drains and sewer pipes.

“If buried utilities are unexpectedly encountered during excavation, this can cause costly delays to a project, the disruption of essential services and the risk of injury or death of workers.”

Munitech uses various methods to locate buried utilities: electromagnetic induced frequencies, sounding, passive frequencies, ground penetrating radar and acoustic pulse induction. The company’s services can be tailored to meet the needs of bigger or smaller contractors in the public and private sectors.

For the smaller contractor, for example, who needs to avoid buried services during excavation, Munitech can scan for underground services within a defined small area to indicate the position of existing services, without identifying the type of service.

Full utility detection services – which are necessary for planning new pipe designs, utility diversions and construction – involve various methods to establish not only the position and depth of buried services, but also the type, size and origin of the services.

By gaining access at points like chambers and substations, the type and size of services can be identified. Individual routes of cables can then be traced by inducing target signals onto target lines.

Munitech’s utility detection service also includes the accurate capturing of information. When buried services are located, the position, direction and depth of utilities are marked on the ground. When a more permanent record of the results is required, utility positions are marked on drawings. The most appropriate method of capturing utilities information is to survey the located positions of services accurately. This survey information can then be imported into CAD (computer aided design) drawings or a GIS (geographic information system) database.

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