S&N Locating Services, LLC, headquartered in Midlothian, VA, is a utility locating company that, on a normal day, has an average of 300 one-person crews locating and marking underground utilities across the states of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Ohio.
“Our workload fluctuates from day to day to meet the needs of our 19 clients,” says Steve Roark, S&N Director of Utility Locating. “We are called to locate about every type of utility, including telecommunications, electric and gas lines, as well as private locates and SUE (subsurface utility engineering) work. We fulfill an average of more than 220,000 locate requests each month.”
S&N’s basic tool for identifying locations of buried utility lines is a two-component electromagnetic locator consisting of a compact transmitter and hand-held receiver. The company currently is upgrading to a new Ditch Witch UtiliGuard locating system.
“We bought the first units soon after they were introduced last year and currently have about 40 units,” says Roark. “During the transition, we still operate Ditch Witch 830R/T models, which have been our standard locating tool. We’ve been very pleased with them, but they only operate on two frequencies.
“Our primary reason for switching to UtiliGuard is their multi-frequency capability,” he continues. “In addition, training our personnel to operate UtiliGuard equipment is simple because they are so easy to use.”
The UtiliGuard equipment has numerous accuracy-enhancing features. In addition to 70 standard frequencies, Ambient Interference Measurement (AIM) scans the surrounding area around locates for noise and recommends the best frequencies to make the fastest, most accurate locates. The dual-output transmitter can be connected to two utilities at the same time.
According to Ditch Witch, it is also the only locating system that provides the horizontal and vertical distance (depth) to the utility to make accurate locates of obstructed utilities. The six-button operator interface is easy to learn and use, and the high-contrast LCD display is visible in all conditions, including direct sunlight. The receiver can communicate with other devices with Bluetooth technology.
Another factor that led to the switch is the UtiliGuard’s ruggedness. S&N Locating Services is a subsidiary of S&N Communications, Kernersville, NC, which specializes in underground and aerial electrical and communications construction, gas infrastructure construction, tree trimming, and outside plant engineering.
“Our construction division under S&N Communications company uses Ditch Witch directional drilling equipment and electronic trackers, excavation equipment and tools, so we’re very familiar with Ditch Witch quality,” Roark states. “We work on construction sites, so our locators need to be tough. Ditch Witch trackers have proven they can stand up to difficult conditions. We have enjoyed a long-term relationship in this industry.”