Frequently Asked Questions

Having been in the business since 2009, Utility Location Services was formed to meet the increasing demands for competent construction and maintenance resources in the communications and utility distribution industry.

Over the years we’ve built up a reputation for excellence and with our attention to our customers, the environment, technology and the highest safety standards, we’ve become leaders in our industry. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions we get asked.


Whether you are planning a small or large commercial or residential project that involves digging up the earth, there are potential hazards like cables and pipes underground that need to be located and protected to avoid damage. If pipes, cables or other underground utilities get ruptured, this can lead to costly repairs, project delays, interruption of services for local properties or even injury.

The NULCA (National Utility Locating Contractors), work in partnership with DBYD (Dial Before You Dig) to improve locating standards in Australia and ensure contractors meet the industry requirements. This means certified locators will have the knowledge, competency, skills and will work to the highest safety standards. A DIY or self-authorised locator without the right qualifications, will not have the required skills and could potentially cause damage to your property or to you.

An electronic locator (EM detection) is used to locate underground services, but it’s not able to detect services made of plastic, ones that are broken, if they have a broken tracer wire or if the area is heavily congested.

A ground penetrating radar (GPR) uses electromagnetic waves to map pipes, structures and cables plus other features under concrete, soil or pavements for example. Developed in the 1970s, it’s a non-invasive imaging technique that is used for subsurface investigations of the ground. If the ground is dry, sandy or water logged, this will affect how far the radar waves can go thus affecting how deep it will penetrate.

A transmitter is attached to the service point above ground and then a portable receiver is used to locate the underground cable of the associated service. This will give a fairly accurate alignment of the cables and pipes plus the approximate depth. Potholing can be used if a more accurate depth and alignment of the underground services is needed.

Vacuum excavation is fast becoming the more widely used method of digging instead of mechanical digging. Vacuum excavation or non-destructive digging (NDD), reduces the risk of asset damage which is particularly important if there are high-pressure gas pipes or optic fibre cables in the vicinity for example. It’s a safer and more environmentally friendly way for determining the location and depths of existing facilities underground before the commencement of a project.

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