Locate Assurance: Your Damage Prevention Ally
The need for traffic control is almost entirely eliminated when using Touchless Locating technology.
You may have heard the term Touchless Locating being tossed around as an alternative to traditional locating practices. More and more, organizations are embracing this due to its significant cost savings on locates, but what you might not realize is that there’s also a feature of Touchless Locating that goes a long way to strengthen your damage prevention efforts: Locate Assurance.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. Maybe you haven’t heard the term before. Maybe you’re sitting there asking yourself What is Touchless Locating?
In its simplest form, Touchless Locating is locating that doesn’t “touch” your outside plant (i.e., no physical hand hole or manhole access required by the locator). Instead, a centralized locate tone transmitter is installed at the central office or head end, eliminating the need to access your plant to set up a portable transmitter. To locate a cable, technicians remotely call in to the system, select the cable they are locating, and the system automatically places the locate signal on the line.
As you know, the biggest threat to the outside plant is a dig up, and preventing dig ups begins with reliable, accurate locates. Damage prevention relies on outside plant “locatability”, yet the ability to locate the cable is assumed to exist and never measured, leaving you unsure if your locates are reliable.
Locate Assurance is a self-test that the Touchless Locating system performs to ensure that the locate signal is reaching the end of the line. With this confirmation, you are certain that your locates are accurate and reliable, and you reduce your risk of dig ups. This is accomplished by measuring the cable’s ability to accept and transmit a locate signal to every section of the network on an ongoing basis.
The system relies on simple sensors that are strategically placed throughout the network that help monitor the cable for damage and ground faults. The sensors use the same conductor as the locate tone to travel, so if the sensors can communicate on the conductor, we know that the locate signal will be able to as well.
This type of system operates by measuring and recording the resistance value to each sensor. If the resistance starts to increase, we know that the cable’s “locatability” is starting to be impacted by grounding issues. We can then address the grounding issues before they begin to impact our ability to perform physical locates.
A Safer Work Environment
Because it eliminates the need for you to access your plant during locating, this type of technology creates a safer work environment by eliminating some of the hazardous situations a locator traditionally faces, such as:
Busy Roadways: Many of the network access points technicians enter to setup their portable transmitter are situated alongside roadways. Even with proper permits and traffic control, working in this environment is dangerous as they can’t control the behavior of speeding or erratic drivers.
Confined Spaces: Those roadside network access points get even more hazardous when they are in manholes. Manholes are confined spaces and can fill with noxious gases that put technicians at risk. Proper training and constant monitoring of gas levels are essential to keep you safe when working inside manholes.
Locating is critical to protecting your buried plant. New locating systems allow you to do your job better while also reducing the chance of underground damages.