People who work in the underground sector are likely to use cable avoidance tools. As with various types of tools, some products are good, while others aren’t worthy of your time, money, and effort. If you’re experienced in your job, you’ll be able to tell the difference between good and quality cable avoidance tools, and those that are cheaper and therefore not as great.
If you’re new to this, finding the right tools might be a challenge because handling the wide range of cable locator and signal generator, i.e. CAT and genny tools requires suitable training that will allow you careful, safe and successful practice. These products enable Cable Avoidance Tools assisting professionals to drive best-locating practices, lower the number of cable strikes, and dig more safely.
What model you’ll choose depends on your work experience, skills and of course the purpose you need the tools for. Here is what you need to know about such tools before you purchase for yourself or your team of employees.
The Environment You Work In
Not every cable avoidance tool can be used on any site. Certain industries are specific on the models and manufacturers they allow to be used on their sites. If you try to use a model of tools that isn’t allowed, you will face disciplinary procedures, an ending of the contract, loss of money and hours.
No worries, you will know what the contractors’ tool preferences are from the very start. You can’t just use an outdated cable locator and generator. It simply won’t pass the inspection. This is why you should always use modern and up to date equipment like suitable CAT and genny made by trusted manufacturers. Make sure to ask if the client needs a calibration certificate before letting your tools be used on site.
Using CAT in Isolation or With Signal Generator
Where will you use CAT? Is it going to be in isolation or with a signal generator? This might sound like a trick question, but you should use cable avoidance tools with a signal generator because numerous research suggests that the average user can detect up to 50% or more buried services with it.
When used in isolation, CAT can only detect live power cables that have current flowing through them. So, if you’re scanning pavement during the night when the streetlights are on, you should be able to easily pick up the position of the cables. If the survey of the pavement is done during the day when the lights are off, you might not pick them up at all.
When cable locator and generator are used in conjunction, the CAT will have the ability to pick up other services like metal water pipes, plastic or clay pipes, telecoms and so on. You should get suitable training to get the most of your CAT and genny.
Distance for Tracing
When used in conjunction with a genny, almost all cable avoidance tools use two industry-standard detection frequencies of 8kHz and 32kHZ. More advanced models emit two other frequencies that let you detect signals over longer distances. This can be handy when carrying out highway surveys.
This feature will significantly reduce the time spent repositioning the signal generator while you move along the site. Make sure to use the right signal generator and cable avoidance tool combo. So, before purchasing, consider the application and the distances over which you’ll do the tracing.
Measure Depth of Services
Past models of average cable locators were providing the lateral position of any detected services and now as tech improves, certain models can give you a depth reading. You might only hand dig trenches that are down to 1m depth. If you can determine that the services are 2.5m down, you can continue with a little more confidence. Or, you may find that power cables lie barely below the surface.
Marking Up Services on the Ground
If you need to simply mark the ground with marker pain to show the location of your services, you will need a more basic tool. It can help you identify the parallel position of service. If you need to record service location and depth data during your scanning, you will need more advanced models (such as cable detection and radio detection).
Some models allow the user to download usage data to get valuable insight into how the device is used, if the best practice is implemented and if there are errors or issues. This info can be downloaded for further analysis on a computer. Some models allow the user to plot the position of any findings with the help of GPS tracking systems.
Who Will Use the Tools?
Are you going to use it yourself or are you getting the tool for team members or employees? If the tool is for yourself and you’re a professional, you will be able to use it exactly how you need. Certain CAT models can record and scan data, make notes of the used methodology and note that the device passed all QA self-check procedures before the scan commencing. This data can be valuable for team use, although if it’s for training purposes, it might not do a lot.
Level of Experience in Using These Tools
You can get the most expensive and tech advanced tools, but they won’t serve you well if you don’t have enough experience and expertise. Most modern cable avoidance tools are easy to use once you master them. To get the most out of these tools you should go through training. This is available directly from the manufacturer or other independent sources.
The training doesn’t have to be expensive or long; usually, the group of employees go to the training together to save on costs. The more advanced and complex the tools are, the more suitable training you will need. Many sectors, contractors and local authorities will insist on having suitable training, expertise, and experience before you go to the site and use the cable locator and signal generator.