Contractors cannot always rely on the accuracy of detailed drawings showing where gas, water and electrical services are located or even whether the information is up to date, says Antony Norton of Gainsborough based geophysical specialist Adien.
In addition, each utility company supplies its own separate drawings, so contractors have to compare each drawing with one another.
This can mean there is plenty of room for error when new pipes and cables need to be laid or old ones replaced.
Digging trial holes takes time, is not always conclusive and can cause disruption to motorists and the general public. Adien's solution is to use non-intrusive electronic detection of underground services and then convert the information into one simple-to-read drawing highlighting all pipes and cables with their positions and depths clearly and accurately marked.
The use of non-intrusive techniques means utility companies gain better control over costs, incur less accidental damage to services and considerably improve their public image, Norton says. Civil engineers and contractors limit their budgets, safety and insurance risks and traffic flow and pedestrians are less likely to face disruption.
Adien has spent over three years developing methods and techniques necessary to provide the survey accuracy and drawing quality required, including developing specially designed survey vehicles that enable its survey teams to correlate and verify survey data before leaving the site.
Information gathered in this way is then transferred via the Internet to the company's head office for initial quality checking and a detailed drawing produced which is then forwarded electronically to the customer.