Imagine trying to get around in an unfamiliar city without using GPS. You will most likely have a hard time finding the right destination if you don’t have any knowledge of the street names, landmarks or other important wayfinding details. Now, pretend you have to do all of that, only underground and by remote control. That’s the situation many contractors are in when they work on pipeline projects for utility customers.
Not having a map of water and sewer lines can make the job exceedingly tedious and difficult, not to mention opens the door for costly mistakes. Fortunately, however, most of us today have GPS in our cars or on our smartphones. Likewise, we have geographic information systems (GIS) to provide maintenance workers with guidance when servicing pipelines. Keep reading to learn more about this technology and what it can do for a contractor in this field.
GIS is in many ways a lot like GPS. Both use satellite grids and data compiled from users to create a comprehensive picture of a system. Your phone’s navigation app details streets and highways, whereas GIS shows exactly where pipes are buried. In addition, it also supplies a wealth of other relevant information you may need to know while working on utility lines. This includes the locations of valves, internal pressure readings and repair histories. These records can appear as maps, as well as spreadsheets, renderings, photos or videos. No matter which form it takes, all of the facts are collated into a single location for easy access.
Why Does It Matter?
Without these tools providing vital information about pipeline projects in real time, contractors would be flying blind. However, GIS affords other advantages for crews and utility workers beyond the basic benefits of having a map. For example, knowing the current soil conditions can help professionals plan for the future more effectively by identifying areas that may be too difficult or costly to excavate.
By far, the most beneficial advantage this tech can deliver is accuracy. Integrating it into your procedures means you can see everything about the infrastructure at a glance, which makes conducting inspections much simpler. Assessors can work faster and avoid errors because they will have a more complete picture of the conditions. GIS also has the potential to significantly improve maintenance operations because it allows you to view a thorough history of repairs overlaid on a map. This data can help in identifying trends and can indicate where future attention may be most needed.
When you’re familiar with your surroundings, getting where you need to go becomes a lot simpler. The same is true underneath the street. Pipe projects are far too important to trust to incomplete information or guesswork. For this reason, GIS has become an indispensable tool for many contractors. Thanks to the comprehensive data it supplies, service providers now have the ability to map out their pipelines, manage their maintenance plans, and take control of their operations.