How GPRS’ Collaborative Approach Ensured Success of Cell Tower Expansion

How GPRS’ Collaborative Approach Ensured Success of Cell Tower Expansion

GPRS’ collaborative approach to Intelligently Visualizing The Built World® kept a contractor on time, on budget, and safe as they prepared to excavate around a cell tower in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Utility markings indicated in red spray paint under a cell phone tower.
By using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locating, GPRS was able to fully investigate this cell tower in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The contractor was looking to break ground on a planned expansion to the tower and wanted an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the project site’s buried infrastructure. GPRS scanned approximately 1 acre around the cell tower to identify buried electrical conduits, water mains, gas lines, and any other subsurface anomalies that the contractor would want to avoid while excavating.

When conducting a utility locate, GPRS Project Managers deploy a combination of non-destructive technologies including ground penetrating radar (GPR) scanners and electromagnetic (EM) locators.

A GPRS Project Manager uses ground penetrating radar to locate utilities in a field.
GPRS Project Managers use ground penetrating radar (GPR) to conduct utility locates that keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

GPR utilizes radio waves to “see” inside concrete or underground. The radio waves are emitted by the GPR scanner into the surface, and they interact with anything they encounter underground. Those interactions are picked up by the GPR scanner, and displayed in a readout as a series of hyperbolas that vary in size and shape depending on the kind of object located.

GPRS Project Managers are specially trained to interpret this readout and determine what was located underground or within a concrete slab.

EM locators complement GPR findings to create redundancy and repeatability in our investigations.  

An EM locator detects the electromagnetic signals that radiate from metallic pipes and cables. These signals can be created by the locator’s transmitter applying current to a known pipe, or from current flow in a live electrical cable. They can also result from a conductive pipe acting as an antenna and re-radiating signals from stray electrical fields (detected by the EM locator functioning in Power Mode) and communications transmissions (Radio Mode).

Two GPRS Project Managers use electromagnetic locators to conduct utility locates.
GPRS Project Managers use electromagnetic (EM) locators in compliment with ground penetrating radar (GPR) to fully visualize subsurface infrastructure.

By using GPR and EM locating in concert, GPRS was able to fully investigate the Little Rock cell tower site, where we found underground utilities – including electrical conduit and ground lines – running through the proposed excavation area. We marked these findings on the ground, and provided accurate depths of the located subsurface utilities to give the contractor a clear indication of where it was safe to excavate – and where breaking ground would have disastrous consequences.

Hiring a professional private utility locating company like GPRS is the best way to avoid costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage when you’re preparing to excavate.

There were 213,792 unique reported subsurface damages across North America in 2022, according to the Common Ground Alliance’s latest DIRT Report.  

The average cost to repair a single utility strike is $56,000, and the repair itself typically requires 6-8 weeks of downtime – an additional hit to your schedule, and ultimately, your budget.

By law, contractors and excavators are required to contact their state’s 811 call-before-you-dig service to obtain the approximate location of all public utilities on their job site.

Public utilities, however, make up only about 40% of all buried infrastructure. Private utilities make up the other 60%, and 811 contractors do not provide estimated locations for private lines.

GPRS Project Managers provide 99.8%+ accurate utility locating services that keep your projects on time, your budget intact, and you and your team safe. But our job doesn’t stop when we’ve told you where you can’t dig. We call our field team members Project Managers because they are trained to take a collaborative approach to every project, working with you to determine how you can complete your work safely and without costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage.

SIM Supports Collaboration

The training that GPRS Project Managers undergo is underpinned by Subsurface Investigation Methodology, or SIM, the industry-leading process that makes GPRS Project Managers experts at conducting utility locates, as well as concrete scans, leak detection, and video (CCTV) pipe inspections.

The SIM standard specifies that a professional utility locating contractor must utilize multiple locating technologies – such as GPR and EM locating – to create redundancy and repeatability in the results of their subsurface investigations.  

All GPRS Project Managers must become SIM certified to work in the field. This means completing the SIM 101 program, which consists of a minimum of 320 hours of field training and 80 hours of classroom training. During this regimen, the PMs are guided through real-world scenarios to prepare them to tackle whatever they may face on a job.

After a couple of years in the field, GPRS Project Managers return to our state-of-the-art training facility in Sylvania, Ohio, for SIM 201 training to further hone their abilities. SIM, however, is much more than just a training program. It addresses a step-by-step approach to collecting subsurface data, to ensure that the results are repeatable and accurate. Per SIM, our Project Managers follow a utility locating checklist designed to ensure optimal results for every situation encountered in the field.

It’s our commitment to SIM that led GPRS Project Managers to achieve and maintain a 99.8%+ rate of accuracy on the over 500,000 utility locating and concrete scanning projects we’ve completed to date. With SIM underpinning our investigations, we’re able to give you a complete and accurate picture of the subsurface infrastructure on your project site so that you can work efficiently and safely.

From skyscrapers to sewer lines, GPRS Intelligently Visualizes The Built World® to keep your projects on time, on budget, and safe.

What can we help you visualize? Click the links below to schedule a service or request a quote today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is private utility locating important?

When you break ground on a new project before doing a private utility locate, you’re playing Russian Roulette. You may be lucky the first time, but what about the next time?

Over 60% of all buried utility lines are private, meaning they’re owned by individuals or businesses. If you don’t hire a private underground utility locating company to identify these lines in your project area prior to digging, you run the risk of knocking power out to an entire neighborhood, creating a water emergency for a municipality, or causing serious injury or death with a gas line explosion or electrical line strike.

Does GPRS offer same day private utility locating?

Yes, our professional Project Managers can respond rapidly to emergency same-day private utility locating service calls on your job site.

Will I need to mark out the utilities GPRS locates?

No, GPRS will locate and mark all utilities for you. We have a variety of tools and markers we can use to highlight the locations of utilities, underground storage tanks and whatever else may be hiding under your site.