The importance of utility mapping cannot be overstated in the fields of geophysics, environmental engineering and infrastructure planning.

Asset operators on sites that contain subsurface pipelines and other ancillary tubes, ducts or channels must contend with the potential for damage to these assets at any given time. For a number of reasons, including excavation, heavy-weather events, environmental investigation or remediation, and new construction, ground must be broken to keep operations moving forward. But when the location and depth of vital underground infrastructure are not properly documented, mapped or transferred onto pertinent parties, crews can easily drill into a gas line or crack concrete foundations of plants and silos.

That’s why more and more operators in industrial sectors are turning to utility mapping. Utility mapping is a process that combines utility locating techniques of ground penetrating radar technology, radio detection and electromagnetic induction to locate assets followed by mapping the assets to create digital files. Once this information is recorded and preserved for posterity, operators can build 2-D and 3-D maps and various forms of geodatabases to keep on hand. If future construction or excavation is necessary, these maps can be updated and maintained to keep crews from damaging underground assets and ensure full transparency of all infrastructures.

Non-destructive subsurface exploration on demand

One of the more surprisingly common realities that asset owners and operators of heavy-duty sites face is having to constantly juggle the many forms of data they retrieve. Though sophisticated operations may have established practices and technology for gathering real-time data on assets – such as performance, degradation, life span, location, etc. – others may still rely on paper-based or incomplete processes. Even worse, some operators may have no standardized procedure for keeping track of these assets and their associated metrics, which makes it far more difficult to keep production moving smoothly or for service providers and regulators to quickly get the information they need before creating reports, recommendations and best practices.

In a perfect world, all of this data would be compiled from the time an asset went online, but, unfortunately, some operators are playing catch up.

Today’s subsurface exploration strategies capitalize on non-destructive technology that makes analyzing, cataloging and updating asset information much more seamless. In addition to the benefit of accurate information housed in a single repository, utility mapping also equates to risk reduction on sites.  For operators, this means all production assets are properly maintained and that any physical adjustments to infrastructure can be made in a timely manner following protocol that starts with knowledge of the assets themselves. If, for example, a nuclear plant was decommissioned and moved 40 miles west, construction and excavation teams would know exactly where to begin controlled demolition and how to uproot and uncover vital assets below the surface. This level of refinement translates to faster uptime once production assets are recommissioned, heightened worker safety and peace of mind knowing all measures of security have been taken.

The latest in utility mapping solutions

Updating asset information is one task, but then leveraging that data for greater use is another. That’s where Applus+ RTD’s comprehensive approach to NDT and utility mapping services come into play.  By utilizing utility mapping and other services such as 3D laser scanning Applus+ can bring clear insight into your subsurface and surface assets in one complete package

Through these methods, operators are able to utilize Applus+’s data record retention system that can be updated and visualized for future applications. Assets that were once hidden from sight are now materialized on digital or physical maps using AutoCad and graphical imaging software, among other technologies.

Bringing infrastructure to the surface, and to life, for decision-makers to see keeps companies well-informed and well-positioned for years of continued success and security.


Why utility mapping is critical to risk reduction and recordkeeping