Page 8 - Alabama 811 Magazine
P. 8

From the Locator’s
            By Roger Cox President ACTS Now, Inc.
Locating underground utilities is not now nor has it ever been for everybody! Not only are the technical requirements demanding but sometimes even more difficult for the locator is the intense pressure created by the number of locate requests coming in compounded by unclear driving directions and by the degree of difficulty in locating the underground utility in the first place.
Locators are aware that if you can be right 95 out of 100 times in most jobs, you’ll get a promotion. If you can only be right 95 out of 100 times in their world, you may very well get fired.
Recently, Alabama 811 Magazines interviewed three locators from very different backgrounds and experiences. Here is what they thought about a variety of issues facing them.
First, let me introduce them to you. Anthony is Anthony Acklin. He’s been in the locating industry for 21 years and is currently the lead locator at Huntsville Utilities. When he goes out on a locate request, he would be responsible for locating four utilities: electric, natural gas, water and fiber.
Kristopher is Kristopher Dobbs. Kristopher has located for 8 months
for Southern Cross. Southern Cross Locating is a contract locating company out of Peachtree Corners, GA. The company recently began locating gas only in Alabama. Kristopher is a Project Supervisor and when called to respond to a locate request, he would be responsible to locate gas only.
Jason is Jason Smith. Jason has 7 years of experience as a locator and works
for GridHawk as a Lead Technician.
His experience as a locator has allowed him to locate multiple utilities including power, gas, water and sewer.
811 Magazines: What can excavators do to make your job as a locator easier and more accurate?
Anthony: Excavators play an important role in helping the locating process by providing an accurate description of
the excavation area, an exact start date, and making sure to put a direct point
of contact on a ticket to make our job as locators easier.
Kristopher: Two things that contractors could do to make our job easier would be to call in with clear locate directions and white line the work area to minimize any confusion as to the work site.
Jason: The majority of my excavators work very well with me. They’ll send me prints and/or white line the areas where they will be working. If there was something all excavators could do to help their locators do a better job is to answer their phone when locators reach out to them and to quit calling in work for areas they can’t get to. It would help locators mark what the excavator wants marked.
811 Magazines: What do you do when you find a line that won’t tone or locate?
Anthony: When I encounter a line that will not locate, I have found there is no substitute for clear communication. I meet with the excavator on site where
I give as much detail as possible about the utility in question. I also contact the owner, or supervisor over the utility.
I inform them of the situation so that they can have someone on-site while excavation is occurring if they deem it necessary.
Kristopher: As a project supervisor it is my responsibility to make sure that a line that is truly unlocatable is sent back to the utility company for
assistance. The pressure on the locator is to do that as quickly as possible so that the utility has the proper amount of time to respond within the limits of state law.
Jason: I will pull drawings, look for nearby test stations and sometimes
dig up the line to find it. I always
let my contractors know if there is a problem and that way, they can be on the lookout for it as well to confirm the problem.
811 Magazines: For you, what makes locating difficult?
Anthony: There are several things that come to mind when thinking about what makes locating more difficult. Inaccurate maps can be a major issue. Our mapping system is very reliable but when we do run across something drawn wrong, it can really be a time killer. Overcrowded right of ways are also an issue. Up to six or more utilities in close proximity can be extremely challenging when trying to isolate a single facility. Also, tracer wires that have been cut are really becoming
an issue. When they are cut during excavation and not repaired it makes a line that was once easily located now almost impossible to find.
Kristopher: In the industry that I currently locate for, the one thing that makes locating more difficult is broken tracer wires on plastic lines. I realize there are other factors to consider, but day in and day out, after we arrive at the job site, broken tracer wires will cause the greatest difficulty in locating.
Jason: For me, it’s when I have multiple projects going on and everybody needs me in one place at the same time. I work with them and give them a time
I can be there so as to balance out my time with them.
6 • Alabama 811 2023, Issue 2

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