How Ground Penetrating Radar Powers GPRS Services

How Ground Penetrating Radar Powers GPRS Services

When Matt Aston founded GPRS in 2001, he derived the name of his new company from the primary tool he would use to help keep construction projects on time, on budget, and safe.

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a non-destructive scanning technology that allows us to “see” what’s inside a concrete slab or underground. By obtaining a comprehensive picture of the subsurface infrastructure on your jobsite, you know where it’s safe to dig, cut, or core. By knowing where these buried obstructions are located, you avoid costly and potentially dangerous subsurface damage.

A GPRS Project Manager uses a GPR utility locating scanner.
Ground penetrating radar is the most accurate and efficient method of locating utilities prior to breaking ground.

How GPR works – and how GPRS makes it work for you

A GPR device emits radio waves that penetrate a concrete slab or the ground and those waves interact with any objects they encounter. These interactions, or “bounces,” are picked up by the GPR device and displayed in a reading as a series of hyperbolas. The hyperbolas vary in size and shape depending on what kind of objects were detected. A trained utility locating or concrete scanning technician can interpret this data to tell you what was located and the precise locations, whether underground or within concrete.

GPR is the most accurate and efficient tool for precision concrete scanning. It’s such a reliable technology that it redefined a process some construction professionals still mistakenly refer to as concrete X-ray, because in the past the construction industry had to rely on unwieldy, dangerous, and limited X-ray scanners to see inside a slab.

Unlike X-ray, GPR can scan concrete when there’s only access to one side of the slab. GPR emits no harmful radiation, and today’s concrete scanning GPR devices are small and light enough to fit into hard-to-reach areas.

When used for utility locating, GPR can detect everything from fiber optic cable to an underground sewer line so that you don’t have to worry about hitting anything during excavation. While some still see subsurface damage as an inevitable risk when breaking ground, hiring a professional utility locator to sweep your dig site with GPR can keep damages from hurting your schedule, your bottom line, and most importantly, your people.

GPRS Project Managers use electromagnetic locators in a field.
Electromagnetic (EM) locating is a complimentary technology to GPR for locating utilities.

Knowing Your limits

Even the best tools have their limitations.

It requires significant training to learn how to properly use GPR technology and interpret the data it collects. Results of a GPR scan can be affected by the moisture content in the concrete or soil being analyzed, and specific soil compositions can limit the depths to which GPR can penetrate.

GPRS Project Managers also deploy electromagnetic (EM) locators when locating utilities to compensate for GPR’s limitations.

EM locators detect electromagnetic signals radiating from metallic pipes and cables. These signals can be created by transmitting current to a known pipe, or from the current flow in a live electrical cable.

By learning to deploy EM locating in conjunction with GPR, our Project Managers ensure we’re providing you with the most accurate picture of your jobsite’s infrastructure.

Industry-Leading Training & Processes

As previously stated, it takes specialized training to learn how to properly use sophisticated technologies like GPR and EM locating.

The best training programs for utility locators and concrete scanners are based on Subsurface Investigation Methodology, or SIM.

All GPRS Project Managers are required to become SIM-certified, which means completing a minimum of 320 hours of field training and 80 hours of classroom training on how to properly perform utility locates and concrete scans, as well as detect pressurized water line leaks, and conduct comprehensive video (CCTV) pipe inspections.

This training places our PMs in real-world scenarios where they can learn how to tackle anything they’ll encounter in the field.

When you compare this to the national standard for certification in subsurface investigation (ASNT SNT-TC-1A) – which states that a minimum of just 60 hours of practical application coaching and 8 hours of classroom training are completed for a utility locating specialist to achieve NDT Level 1 certification – you start to see what sets GPRS Project Managers apart.

GPRS Project Managers use top-of-the-line GPR scanners to visualize what’s inside concrete before you cut or core, or to visualize what’s underground before you excavate. Our mission is 100% subsurface damage prevention, and our Project Managers receive industry-leading training to ensure they provide you with data that is actionable and accurate. And with a team of over 500 Project Managers strategically placed across the country, we can respond rapidly to your jobsite no matter where it’s located.

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

How deep does GPR penetrate?

This depends on factors such as moisture content and composition of the concrete or soil being scanned. Our general rule of thumb is that GPR can typically penetrate 18”-24” in concrete and up to 8’ into soil.

Can GPR locate voids in concrete or underground?

GPR can identify the area where a void is possibly occurring, but it cannot identify the precise boundaries of a void or measure it’s depth.

How much does GPR cost?

A GPR unit for conducting utility locates costs between $14,000 and $100,000 to purchase, depending on the number of available frequencies, the user interface, and GPS mapping applications that the device will function with.

There’s a similar price tag attached to concrete scanning GPR units, and either device will require proper training for you to be able to operate effectively.

Hiring a professional utility locating or concrete scanning company like GPRS is the most cost effective and efficient path to accurate and actionable data about your jobsite’s infrastructure.