A cutting-edge Excavation Encroachment Notification (EEN) system that provides real-time feedback and alerts during digging activity will soon be brought to market by Hydromax USA LLC to enhance current damage prevention efforts.
Operations Technology Development (OTD), a member-driven consortium of natural gas utilities working together to develop technology solutions for safe and reliable infrastructure operations, signed an agreement for commercialization of the system with Hydromax USA, a leader in data-centric solutions for inspection of gas, water and sewer utilities. OTD engaged GTI, a leading research, development, and deployment company that has been addressing energy technology and environmental challenges for more than 75 years, to develop the system. Additional support for the system development came from the California Energy Commission and Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), a California-based utility.
The system will be marketed as UtilAlert under Hydromax USA’s suite of UtiliSafe services and products. It includes an excavator-mounted device that discerns the movement of digging activities through on-board multiple axis inertial measurement units, captures the GPS location of the excavator, and transmits the information to a real-time GIS-enabled database through the cellular network. Software evaluates the excavator location and digging activity with mapping of any connected utility and 811 dig ticket boundaries. When the software identifies a high-risk utility at the location using GIS mapping, the device alerts the excavator operator directly and both contractor and utility damage prevention teams through mobile and desktop apps. All parties can act to prevent damage before it occurs.
More than 150 prototype EEN devices have been demonstrated in the field by PG&E and a variety of excavators, including construction companies, agriculture users, and municipalities. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with users praising the plug-and-play set-up, convenient mobility, fast response and robustness of the devices, as well as the bonus of improving the overall fleet management capabilities and subcontractor visibility through the detailed dashboards provided to supervisory personnel and general contractors.
Contractors should benefit from reduced damage due to excavation activity and better equipment management. The mobile and desktop apps allow for tracking of the excavator assets in a map view, and the software sends notifications as well. Adoption of UtilAlert should minimize the cost of damages, avoid delays to completion schedules, and enhance safety for workers and the general public. All stakeholders will benefit from enhancing situational awareness and reducing risk.