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Advantages of Ground Penetrating Radar in Utility Locating

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Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a technology that has definitely advanced and developed for the better in recent years.

 

When we started using Ground Penetrating Radar over a decade ago, the refinement and filtering capabilities of GPR data and signals blessed us with clearer hyperbolic images we have the luxury of today.

 

I have to say, we’d be lost without having Ground Penetrating Radar on site as a locating method with the benefit it has in complementing electromagnetic utility locating.

 

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is an advanced utility locating method that uses electromagnetic radio waves pulsed into the ground. These waves of energy then reflect off objects buried in the subsurface such as underground services.

 

We use GPR in many different underground utility investigations but it works well and is commonly used for finding underground pipes and cables.

 

GPR sends waves of electromagnetic energy into the ground at either a signal, dual or wideband frequency. These energy waves penetrate the ground soil, walls, or even through concrete slabs.

 

As the waves of signal energy bounce and reflect off buried objects in the subsurface, this returned energy antenna records the waves as they reflect back to the receiver.

 

Ground Penetrating Radar allows us to collect much needed information about what lies below the ground which in the right hands, we can interpret this data to work out where underground services are buried.

 

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Services offered by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Service Locating Sydney Geoscope

So what exactly can Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) do for you?

Well, here is the list of advantages of using Ground Penetrating Radar that not every contractor knows about.

The advantages of using Ground Penetrating Radar include

  1. Quick to set up and start scanning 
  2. Does not need a connection to the utility
  3. Overcomes limitations of electromagnetic locating methods 
  4. Can detect metallic pipes and utilities 
  5. Can detect non-metallic pipes and utilities 
  6. Can capture real-time data on site
  7. Non-destructive and non-intrusive 
  8. Can increase workflow efficiency to identify areas of further investigation
  9. More cost-effective than other mechanical utility investigations 
  10. Excellent choice for noise-sensitive environment
  11. Can detect other non-metallic materials
  12. Versatile or multifunctional
  13. No health risks
  14. Cheaper and lightweight to use
Ground Penetrating Radar Services by Geoscope
Advantages of Ground Penetrating Radar in Utility Locating

Since GPR technology has become more affordable and easier to use, it has changed the way civil construction engineers, government councils, and project managers involved in large-scale projects work around underground services today. 

Using Ground Penetrating Radar can provide data that can expose potential issues with the subsurface infrastructure that could potentially be undetectable if a GPR scan is not undertaken.

Now, let us expand on the GPR Advantages by giving you in-depth information about them.

In-depth information on the GPR advantages

1. Quick to set up and start scanning

GPR Services being set up by Geoscope

People thinks it takes forever to set up GPR and finish scanning the area they want utility locators to scan. However, using GPR to identify underground utilities is a quick process. 

With GPR, you do not need to connect to utility in order to use it. So, it is easier to just pull the equipment out of the van and start scanning without any complications. Also, ground-penetrating radar is quick to set up because it is a non-invasive form of imaging. This means that there is no need to excavate in order to get a clear image of what lies beneath the surface. 

Ground-penetrating radar is also able to penetrate through a variety of materials, including concrete, soil, and even water. This makes it an ideal tool for a variety of applications including search and rescue, surveying, and archaeology. 

And if you wonder how long it will take to complete the scan, well, a typical GPR scan really depends on the size of the job. For small areas, it can be done in less than an hour. But for larger areas or bigger projects, utility locators could be out there for days and weeks.

 

2. Does not need a connection to the utility

GPR Service being provided by Geoscope in SYdney NSW
GPR being an independent device not needing to be connected to other utility on-site

Ground-penetrating radar does not require a connection to the utility in order to function. The machine is able to detect the location of underground utilities without the need for a connection. This is because the machine uses electromagnetic waves to penetrate the ground and identify the location of the utilities. The waves are able to penetrate the ground and bounce back to the machine, which can then identify the location of the utilities. So, it does not need to be connected to any other utilities on-site.

3. Overcomes limitations of electromagnetic locating methods

GPR Services being provided by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar being able to provide better imaging for utility lines of all types

Electromagnetic (EM) has many limitations unlike GPR, and the imperative advantage of GPR over EM location is that GPR provides better imaging for utility lines of all types. GPR detects ground disturbances rather than lines, so it makes no difference whether the lines are metallic or nonmetallic. 

The final drawing from a GPR-only survey will differ from the final drawing from an EML-only survey, with the GPR detecting underground features and recovering more below-surface information but being unable to identify the various utilities. While services will be identified in the EM survey results (along with critical information from site reconnaissance), the drawing will lack the additional details recovered by the GPR and will be unable to detect any non-metallic services or services for which there is no manhole access.

4. Can detect metallic pipes and utilities

GPR Services provided by Geoscope

GPR can detect pipes of all sizes used for utilities and other purposes. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a sensor that has a high potential for use in detecting buried underground utilities. Metal pipes are the most easily detected due to their strong interaction with the radar signal. So, when it comes to detecting metallic pipes utilities, you can definitely count on GPR to help you out with that.

5. Can detect non-metallic pipes and utilities

Ground Penetrating Service on Non-Metallic Utilities provided by Geoscope
GPR being used to detect non-metallic pipes and other utilities

As I have said, GPR can detect the majority of utilities, including plastic and other non-metallic services, as well as metal. It can simply detect buried plastic pipes by transmitting radio waves into the ground and recording the response of the waves on a detector. While non-metallic services or services with no manhole access would be undetectable by EM.

6. Can capture real-time data on-site

Ground Penetrating Radar Services provided by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar capturing real-time data on-site

GPR can capture real-time data on-site because it uses radio waves to locate subsurface structures and objects. The radio waves, or signals or frequencies, will bounce off the object and be received back at the antenna. Then they are transmitted by wire from the antenna to a computer for processing, analysis, and display on the computer screen. 

GPR will also provide you with the exact location of these objects, as well as their depths. Furthermore, it will perform this function without prior knowledge of the utility’s location. During the procedure, ground-penetrating radar can be deployed in two ways: Magnetic or radio waves can be used to determine what objects are underneath the surface of the ground while infrasound waves can be used to locate objects without sending out any detectable signals and create 3D images of what is under the surface of the ground. As a result, it gives you real-time data on-site. So, if you need to obtain the information quickly or in real time, then GPR is the right choice.

7. Non-destructive and Non-intrusive

Ground Penetrating Radar Service on Sydney by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar being a non-destructive and non-intrusive method

Ground Penetrating Radar is a non-destructive and non-intrusive method because it is a remote sensing technology that uses radar pulses to locate and identify objects on or below the Earth’s surface. It simply means that it requires no digging and does not disturb anything above ground, making it an ideal method in nearly any locating scenario. Landscaping, structures, lawns, and any other surface features are left undisturbed, limiting damage and disruption for customers.

8. Can increase workflow efficiency to identify areas of further investigation

Ground Penetrating Radar being used to locate
GPR being used to increase workflow efficiency

If you are fond of increasing workflow efficiency and saving time, well, GPR could be your best bet. 

GPR can increase workflow to identify areas of further investigation by suggesting areas that are worth digging or removing based on their findings and therefore speeding up site investigation and also increasing the accuracy of finding. It can easily increase the workflow by pinpointing exact locations and measurements of objects in the ground such as tree roots, wires or cables underground, or pipes. 

GPR can also help identify areas to dig in the ground without compromising other areas of the work site saving you time and money. Also, a site investigation is completed faster and more accurately using the GPR. 

9. More cost-effective than other mechanical utility investigations

Ground Penetrating Radar Service being provided by Geoscope

GPR can definitely be more cost-effective than other mechanical utility investigations. Since, GPR detects all underground obstacles, from fibre optic and high voltage cables to streetlights, drains, and culverts, you can rest assured that there will be no utility strikes, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

Not only that, but in the right set of circumstances, this technology can reduce the time-consuming and costly practice of potholing to confirm existing underground utilities. 

In short, Ground penetrating radar (GPR) can be a valuable tool for informing your design process, saving money, shortening timelines, and lowering construction risks.

10. Excellent choice for noise-sensitive environments

Ground Penetrating Radar being used at night by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar being used at night by Geoscope

The GPR is an excellent choice for noise-sensitive environments. It is self-contained and quiet, and this device operates quietly and does not produce vibrations, making it suitable for use in populated areas such as residential neighbourhoods while also allowing engineers to work overnight without disturbing occupants or neighbours. So with GPR, you really don’t need to worry about disturbing others while collecting your data using it. 

11. Can detect other non-metallic materials

Ground Penetrating Radar Service on Non-metallic Pipes by Geoscope
Ground Penetrating Radar being used to detect non-metallic pipes

Its ability to detect even non-metallic objects in addition to metal ones makes this technology especially useful for finding anomalies that might otherwise not show up on conventional scans but could GPR can, such as detecting voids under structures like bridges, buildings, and parking garages where there may be voids that could cause structural damage if not detected early enough.

12. Versatile or Multifunctional

Ground Penetrating Radar Services by Geoscope
GPR being used to locate different subsurface utilities

GPR has been and can still be used in many different industries, including archaeology, engineering, construction, mining, government, communications/telecommunications, and airport as well as in military use.

13. No health risks

Ground Penetrating Radar Service provided by Geoscope
Impact of using Ground Penetrating Radar on health and environment

Well, unlike many other detection systems that use X-rays or gamma rays like what CT scans do, GPR doesn’t pose any health risks because it uses electromagnetic waves which are harmless to humans, the environment, and animals.

14. Cheaper and lightweight to use

Ground Penetrating Radar Services provided by Geoscope
GPR being cheaper and lightweight to use

One reason why GPR systems are so popular among contractors is that they are cheaper, lightweight, and portable compared to other expensive options. This means you can use it in any location even where access isn’t easy.

 

Now, perhaps you are already questioning whether you should use GPR or not, here are more details on why you should stop second-guessing about the wonders GPR can do for you.

Should you use GPR?

Ground Penetrating Radar Service being provided in Sydney, NSW
Ground Penetrating Radar Service being provided by Geoscope in Sydney, NSW

When you’re working on a construction project, there’s no room for guesswork. 

You need to know exactly what you’re dealing with and can only do that by getting reliable information about the subsurface condition. That’s where ground penetrating radar comes in.

When you use GPR to scan the ground before beginning any groundbreaking projects, you ensure that you won’t run into unexpected obstacles and possibly cause damage to your equipment or everyone on-site by doing everything possible, especially when performing potentially hazardous tasks such as excavation, concrete cutting, trenching, or coring.

But if you want a thorough Subsurface Utility Investigation at your site before you dig, you might want to consider utilising all available resources, plans, materials, and equipment including GPR, and, last but not least, quality personnel who are knowledgeable in all aspects of utility locating.

If you are still unsure as to when or whether to use Ground Penetrating Radar for your project, feel free to contact Geoscope the experts in the field, to assist and answer all the questions you have about GPR.

 

Contact us at Geoscope

If you have questions about Ground Penetrating Radar, feel free to let us know so we can help you.

If you also need further information or a guide on understanding Ground Penetrating Radar in a deeper and better sense, we have an article about GPR Expert’s Guide for you.

Ground Penetrating Radar – A GPR Expert’s Guide

This article is an expert’s guide on how Ground Penetrating Radar works in locating underground utilities.

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