Why Cable Locating Drives Up Costs And How To Keep Those Costs Down

Why Cable Locating Drives Up Costs And How To Keep Those Costs Down

After your network is installed, cable locating is the single-biggest operational cost of maintaining your network. That’s got us thinking… Why do cable locates drive up costs? And more importantly, how do we cut those costs?

Why Does Cable Locating Drive up Costs?


As we started examining what goes into each and every cable locate, we quickly discovered this:


Locates take up time


When we started timing each and every locate from the time you roll a truck, to the time you finish retrieving your portable transmitter, we found they were eating up a lot of valuable time. How much time? Let’s break it down, step by step:

Traditional locating timeline

On average, each cable locate was taking 50 minutes, and that was only when everything went smoothly. Often, we ran into various issues that added on an additional 30 minutes or more. Issues such as:

  • Confined spaces
  • Poor access to the splice location
  • Poor bonds
  • Traffic control
  • Permits
  • Etc.

Up to 80 minutes for a task seemingly so simple, and for an on-going task that is the biggest, most essential of all your damage prevention activities.

How Do We Keep Locating Time (and in Return, Costs) Down?


Without installing new equipment, there are a few things we can do, namely:

  • Have accurate maps, and study the plant we are locating on
  • Ensure all equipment is working and properly calibrated
  • Setup plant for direct transmitter-on-conductor contact


While this did shave off some of that time, the difference on average was minimal. The BIG savings came when Touchless Locating equipment was installed on the network. With Touchless Locating, the 9-step locating process was reduced to just 3 steps.

Touchless locating timeline


With the lengthy setup and teardown steps eliminated, a locate takes approximately 21 minutes with Touchless Locating.

Assuming a rate of $75/hr is constant across all locates, and assuming a working day is 8 hours long, let’s compare some numbers between traditional and Touchless Locating.


Number comparison


That’s up to a 75% savings on locates, and up to 283% more locates per day with Touchless Locating.