Looking Down To Find Up-Time

November 2011, Vol. 66 No. 11

When Hanover Engineering began work on a 20-mile long sewer project estimated at $18 million, they knew it wouldn’t be easy, specifically analyzing the subsurface rock on the trench lines. Traditionally, this task would require boring test holes approximately every 30 feet — a tedious and time-intensive approach, but one that is still regularly used.

If the project’s team had stuck with the typical method, that would have translated into boring more than 3,500 holes for analysis.

When a project grant restricted the timeline for the East Coast firm that provides consulting, civil engineering and support surveying services, they searched for a faster, more modern method of tackling the work.

“I felt we needed to find some type of system, some type of equipment, that could survey so we could try to analyze the amount of rock on these trench lines,” said Matthew Epler, EIT with Hanover’s Ephrata, PA, office.

The firm’s research turned up US Radar. Specifically, Hanover Engineering tested and purchased the wheel-mounted Seeker SPR (sub-surface penetrating radar) with a 500-megahertz antenna. It turned the project into a walk in the trench-lined park as crews simply pushed the Seeker over the surface of the trench area and relied on its sub-surface penetrating radar system to do the work for them, and then display the results on the touch screen panel.

“We have survey data on 20 miles of pipe,” Epler said. “I have all these scans and all these pictures (from the Seeker SPR).”

He estimates the Seeker SPR cut the time needed to survey the area by 70 percent. Plus, it diminished any environmental impact concerns that might accompany a project typically requiring thousands of bore holes. Now, they will just do a few bore holes to confirm the data the Seeker provided.

“We’ll take this data we received from the US Radar equipment; and we can take it to be very selective on the boring,” Epler said.

The Seeker is technologically advanced and yet simple to operate and easy to maneuver. It transmits energy pulses through various types of surfaces, including clay, soil, concrete and brick. Whether the depth range being explored is known or not, the Seeker produces images of what’s below and can tailor the picture based on a user’s set parameters, such as soil settings, algorithms and color palette. Everything is displayed immediately on a large, bright screen that is easily visible even in daylight.

“It’s like looking at an x-ray,” Epler said. “The more you look, the more you see.”

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