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Understanding EMF locators and the importance of training

A utility detection equipment specialist shares his expert tips on understanding electromagnetic field (EMF) locators, the importance of training, and how to work with manufacturers.

Johnstone tells Trenchless Australasia about working with electromagnetic field (EMF) locators, following his 20 plus years of experience in the industry.

What makes a good EMF locator?

If you believe all the marketing hype from manufacturers, they will tell you that their locator is better because it has eight antennas or has a colourful screen, or easy to use and has more frequencies or modes.

None of these are truly important. This is because all modern professional locators perform well and can accurately locate without all the extras.

The key factor that lets most of these modern locators down, is the untrained operator behind the locator itself.

The most important aspect of a good locator is proper training from the manufacturer along with ongoing training from organisations that specialise in locator training, like Access Detection.

Why seek training from the manufacturer/dealer first?

The manufacturers and their specialist dealers should have a good understanding of both the functions and operations of their machines.

I’m not talking about how to connect to the internet to do upgrades or showing the latest locate mode. I am talking about understanding the principles of locating and how the machine should be used and what modes to use and when. This builds the foundations of getting the best from your locator for professional training.

Access Detection
Proper training from the manufacturer is an important aspect of a good EMF locator.

What should a manufacturer/dealer cover?

The manufacturer or dealer should cover the principles of locating, which should cover functions of the machine.

They should also teach when to use the different modes and why, how frequencies affect your location along with the basic connection and locate methods.

This should take anywhere from a half to a full day as a guide to allow you to get a good grasp of your locator.

Be aware some sales companies tell you that they do professional training, only to turn it into a sales marketing demonstration on their product.

So, the new operator who has just purchased there shiny new $10,000 locator comes away with incorrect knowledge that leads to incorrect locate techniques.

Access Detection
Access Detection supplies equipment and training to utility detection contractors and water leak contractors, including EMF locators.

Why take further training from a dedicated locator training organisation?

It’s important to continue training and build on skills.

Dedicated locator training organisations normally have skilled trainers who have worked in the industry for years and have built up the knowledge and skills to teach affective locating techniques.

This along with the basics of BYDA Process, safely managing a worksite and basic record keeping are crucial steps in the process to becoming a good locator.

Although it is great to receive an industry certificate, it is not as important as getting the right training.

It is important to do your research before selecting an RTO to do proper professional locator training. I have witnessed students who have received so called industry locator training and have come away with very limited knowledge on how to locate correctly.

Access Detection supplies equipment and training to utility detection contractors and water leak contractors.

The company’s product range includes EMF pipe and cable locators from Rycom, ground penetrating radar from Impulse Radar and water leak detection equipment from Sewerin.

This article featured in the June edition of Trenchless Australasia. 

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