Would you believe that only 140 years ago the streetlights in Britain were gas lamps? Yes, the first electric streetlights were turned on in 1878 along the Thames Embankment and near Holborn Viaduct, and the first complete street to be lit by electricity was – believe it or not – Electric Avenue in Brixton. If you go to the Strand, take a look at the Savoy Theatre stage door and you will see a plaque confirming that the building was the first to be lit throughout with electric lighting in 1881.
Today, we couldn’t live without electricity. We simply take it for granted. How does it get to us? Underground, via electric cables. Thousands upon thousands of miles of them. In fact, when you add up all the utilities, it is estimated that there are around a million miles of them under our feet – gas, water, electric, fibre optic – all sorts. While gas may not be supplied to every home, water and electricity most certainly are – unless "home" is a caravan in the middle of a field.
So it follows that utilities are – or certainly can be – everywhere. Advice from the HSE when carrying out any form of work on or near utilities is to assume that they are present unless you have been shown otherwise.
This is why the use of underground detection equipment in order to locate and mark utilities before commencing any sort of excavation work is essential. With utility infrastructures becoming ever more complex, underground surveyors need ever more powerful and flexible tools to do the job. Hence the introduction of the Mala GPR RD8100 which contains their latest range of five custom manufactured precision ground antennas allowing surveyors to select the optimum level of precision for any particular situation.
Of course, there is a learning curve when using any new equipment for the first time, so surveyors will need to undertake Radio detection RD8100 training to fully understand the equipment.
The RD8100 has many advantages including accurate surveying with integrated or external GPS. You can save up to 1,000 survey measurements and capture the depth of the utility and then send it to a mobile device via Bluetooth. You can also add positional data with the integrated GPS option, or you can combine with an external GNSS device using the wireless Bluetooth link to get the required accuracy.
RD8100 includes StrikeAlert™ in active and passive locating. This warns of the presence of shallow cables and pipes using both audio and visual warnings.
Another advantage of the RD8100 is that it can save you a considerable amount of time on site. It uses iLOC remote transmitter control which is an advanced Bluetooth link between the RD8100 locator and the transmitter. This lets you control the signal power and frequency of the transmitter from as much as 1,400’ / 450m away which means that you can spend a lot less time walking and a lot more time locating.
The RD8100 system also uses Dynamic Overload Protection. What this does is filter out any interference, so that it means you can locate in what are described as noisy electrical environments such as under power cables or around electricity substations.
Another very big advantage that Mala have built into the RD8100 is that you can be confident that it is ready for action whenever you are. They have built what they call eCert into the system. What this means is that you can verify and certify the calibration of your locator over the internet using the RD Manager PC software package, so you don’t have to take your unit to a service centre.
You can also set up, calibrate, and update your locator from a PC using the software. You can download usage logging and survey management data for analysis, and set up, calibrate, and update your locator remotely. In addition, you can use Self-Test to confirm the integrity of the locator on site. Self-Test applies signals to the locating circuitry as well as checking display and power functions.
With this whole host of functions, it is worth undertaking Radio detection training from a qualified team of instructors so that you fully understand all the different functions and will be able to use them all straight out of the box.