Underground utility mapping is used for positioning and identification of buried pipes and cables such as electric and telecoms beneath the ground.
The technique prevents digging into or damaging any utility that may cause harm to the public or workforce.
It also enables utility mapping companies to reduce their project planning time, minimize risks, and assist in improving the quality of excavation works.
Operators are using techniques such as electromagnetic, utility detection equipment magnetic, sonic/acoustic, GPR, live-line detector, and robotic crawler to detect, trace, and map buried utility lines. Mining companies are deploying underground utility mapping solutions, which are compliant with health & safety regulations. Due to advancements in the devices used for mapping, such as GPR and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) locators, the creation of real-time 3D maps of buried utilities has become an easy task, further reducing inefficiencies, costs, and risks
The APAC underground utility mapping market is expected to show a rapid growth over the forecast period due to the growing adoption of advanced mapping technologies for utility mapping purpose in countries including, India, China, and Australia. The utility mapping agencies in the countries are using mapping technologies to increase the efficiency of the mapping process, which will further fuel the market growth.
Subsurface utility engineering (SUE) refers to a branch of engineering that involves managing certain risks associated with utility mapping at appropriate quality levels, utility coordination, utility relocation design and coordination, utility condition assessment, communication of utility data to concerned parties, utility relocation cost estimates, implementation of utility accommodation policies, and utility design.
The SUE process begins with a work plan that outlines the scope of work, project schedule, levels of service vs. risk allocation and desired delivery method. Non-destructive surface geophysical methods are then leveraged to determine the presence of subsurface utilities and to mark their horizontal position on the ground surface. Vacuum excavation techniques are employed to expose and record the precise horizontal and vertical position of the assets. This information is then typically presented in CAD format or a GIS-compatible map. A conflict matrix is also created to evaluate and compare collected utility information with project plans, identify conflicts and propose solutions. The concept of SUE is gaining popularity worldwide as a framework to mitigate costs associated with project redesign and construction delays and to avoid risk and liability that can result from damaged underground utilities.
Major Techniques used for utility detection:
Ground Penetrating Radar
Induction Locator (Cable & Pipe Locator) Surveys
Metal Detector Surveys
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface. This non-destructive method uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band (UHF/VHF frequencies) of the radio spectrum, and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures. GPR can have applications in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures. In the right conditions, practitioners can use GPR to detect subsurface objects, changes in material properties, and voids and cracks.
GPR uses high-frequency (usually polarized) radio waves, usually in the range 10 MHz to 2.6 GHz. A GPR transmitter and antenna emits electromagnetic energy into the ground. When the energy encounters a buried object or a boundary between materials having different permittivity, it may be reflected or refracted or scattered back to the surface. A receiving antenna can then record the variations in the return signal. The principles involved are similar to seismology, except GPR methods implement electromagnetic energy rather than acoustic energy, and energy may be reflected at boundaries where subsurface electrical properties change rather than subsurface mechanical properties as is the case with seismic energy.