Q1. Are there any resources I can access online to find out more about locating?
Yes, there are many different associations and organizations dedicated to providing information for the utility locating industry. Many of these are non-profit groups formed to protect locating and utility companies. Below are links to key players in the industry:
• 811 – Call Before You Dig: http://www.call811.com>
• American Public Works Association: http://www.apwa.net
• National Utility Locating Contractors Association: http://www.nulca.org
• National Utility Contractors Association: http://www.nuca.com
• Common Ground Alliance: http://www.commongroundalliance.com
Q2. Is locating mandated by the government?
Answer: Yes. Currently, every state has a dig or damage prevention law which requires notifying the respective One-Call Center to request locating utility lines in the area prior to digging of any kind. The One-Call Center then forwards the requests to the utility owners which have lines at the property. Either the utility owner, or to their respective locating company, like Locating, Inc, will come out to perform the actual locate.
Q3. How do locating companies keep track of locating requests?
Answer: Locating, Inc. and other utility locating companies have a ticket management system allowing each locate request—from State One Call Centers or from each utility directly—to be tracked, monitored and distributed to field technicians for completion. Locating, Inc. was the first locating company in the industry to develop its own automated ticket management and work order dispatch system called Q Manager. This system allows technicians to receive requests, track their status and close out requests wirelessly or use the application in a disconnected mode. Technicians and their supervisors preview and organize their work while in the field, eliminating unnecessary drive time and paper handling. Reclaiming lost time allows greater opportunities for supervisors and technicians to work together to improve the other key metric in the locating equation – quality.
Q4. When should I make a locating request?
Answer: A locating request call (or email) should be placed to the respective State One Call Center any time a portion of the ground is going to be excavated. This practice should be followed from simple digs, such as installing a mailbox or planting a tree, to large projects including the new construction of a commercial building or home. Many utility lines are located just inches beneath the surface of the ground and need to be marked to prevent damage, accidents and/or injury.
Q5. What is a locator?
Answer: A locator is a field technician who locates and marks the ground to indicate where underground utility lines are located. He or she uses special equipment to pick up signals to determine where the lines are buried. The locator sprays the ground with paint to mark the location of the utility lines and sketches or photographs the site as proof that the facilities were properly marked.
Q6. What are facility locating services?
Answer: Facility locating is a service that identifies underground facilities at a given location. Prior to any excavation or construction, an excavator needs to call or email a locate request to the respective State One Call Center to have the underground utility lines located at the site of the proposed digging or construction. To ensure that the excavator does not damage or break any of the underground lines, the utility owner or their contract locating company will mark the ground with paint and/or flags to show where the utility lines are located. These locate marks protect the integrity of each utility company’s plant while reducing potential injuries, accidents and damage to the utilities.