radio leak detection

Buried cable and pipe location

Information is a most important ingredient in any undertaking. It permits planning an afternoon’s work or planning a multimillion rand project. The difficulty of obtaining information about buried utility lines is that nothing is visible. Drawings, plans or information should always be obtained but they may be faulty or incomplete. A suitable technique has to be used to obtain the information from underground and a number of methods are available:

Different locating techniques

Ground Penetrating Radar

In some ground conditions GPR has certain advantages over alternative techniques because of its ability to ‘see’ non-metallic objects as well as metallic ones. However, GPR products tend to be bigger and more expensive, and can require increased levels of training to get the most from the equipment. Surveys can also take longer than with other methods, putting them beyond the scope of many operators.

Sonic surveying

Injection of sound or ultrasonic waves into the ground or along a line is a technique for tracing plastic water pipes but is not suitable for locating other buried services. Note: Line is a continuous metal pipe, cable or other conductor capable of carrying an electric current.

Dowsing Technique, yes and certainly the oldest, but technology – no.

Although the hazel twig and all its variants continue to be used with varying effect by practitioners of these obscure but interesting arts, ease of handling is the only one of its features which can be claimed with any certainty.

Electromagnetic location

This method of locating buried pipes, cables and sewers has become almost universal. Its main shortcoming is that it will not locate non-metallic lines such as plastic pipes. However, utilities taking the small amount of trouble to lay tracer wires with plastic pipes are not affected by this shortcoming.

The technology has a large number of advantages and Radiodetection specialises in developing and exploiting electromagnetic location technology.

Advantages of electromagnetic location

Electromagnetic location combines many advantages and facilities for obtaining information from underground that are not available from any other technique or combination of techniques.

  • It can search an area from the surface to locate buried lines.
  • It can trace and identify a target line.
  • It can trace and identify sewers or other non-metallic ducts or pipes to which there is access; it can locate blockages and collapses.
  • It can measure depth from the surface.
  • It can monitor the progress of ‘No Dig’ tools and instruments.
  • The technology can be used to provide data to steer equipment or tools both above ground and below ground, or on the sea bed.
  • It can find some types of cable fault, monitor pipeline coating condition and locate water leaks in plastic pipes.
  • It can pinpoint the position of joints in iron gas pipes.
  • The equipment is portable.
  • The equipment is easily handled and is successfully used by workers.
  • The technique works in all soil conditions; even underwater.
  • The component parts of the technology are low cost. Sufficiently low cost to be purchased by small contractors or issued on a large scale by regional or national organisations.
  • The technology exists today. The wide variety of functions and applications requires just three basic building blocks:
    • a signal generator or transmitter to apply a signal to a buried line.
    • a small self-contained transmitter suitable for inserting in drains or ducts.
    • a handheld receiver to locate the signals from the transmitters or to locate signals occurring ‘naturally’ on buried lines.


cable and pipe locators

FDT Solutions now offer the latest up to date and technologically advanced products for pipe utility infrastructure location.

We have partnered with DB Equipment, industry leaders  in the field of Radiotection Technology.  Providing Solutions for anyone from basic avoiding of services prior to excavation, through to tracing specific services and providing detailed reports including GPS coordinates.

DB Equipment guarantees that all locating equipment has the latest hardware and software to provide the most accurate information, while still remaining simple in operation. 

We will soon provide our customers with a product specific solutions portal where customers can browse our pipe-and-cable-locator product offering.