Publications / 2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada

Application of Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) Radar in Detecting Unexpected Utility Lines in Open Cut Operations

J. Zou, M. Lu, R. Karumudi, A. Tan, X. Shen
Pages 1197-1207 (2013 Proceedings of the 30th ISARC, Montréal, Canada, ISBN 978-1-62993-294-1, ISSN 2413-5844)

Open-cut method is most widely used for shallow utility lines installation. In urban areas, unexpected utility lines buried underground potentially turn open-cut construction into a highly risky operation, increasing the construction cost while presenting additional safety hazards. Examples include: breaking existing water main leads to flooding the downtown area; hitting an unexpected gas line causes an explosion. To prevent those accidents, the current practice is to stake out the underground utility lines before the open-cut construction based on the as-built information collected from various utility companies and government agencies. However, the as-built information is not always complete and accurate. To verify the locations of some important utility lines and protect them against damages caused by open-cut construction, new techniques and technologies are used but have their limitations in revealing underground utility lines, such as hydro vacuum method and ground penetration radars (GPR). The emerging technology of ultra-wide band (UWB) radar holds the potential to provide a cost-effective, non-destructive detection method. In this paper, a critical review of current practices and established methodologies is given. The functionality and working mechanism of UWB radar technologies are described. Application potential in open-cut construction is demonstrated by conducting lab experiments. Testing set-ups for detecting unexpected utility lines in soil along with preliminary results are presented. The effects of soil moisture content on the detection range are discussed. Research findings are summarized and constraints are discussed in conclusions.

Keywords: Construction management, Radar, Utility lines