When project owners look at the utility landscape of a new project for the first time, they’re likely to face a challenging reality. In any site, they may need to work around oil and gas pipelines, water lines, telecommunications cables, and electric and power cables--and all with no guarantee that these subsurface utilities are located correctly, if at all, on the map.
To succeed in a challenging utility landscape, project owners, project managers, and engineers need to practice utility coordination. Effective utility coordination that integrates all utility stakeholders is key to completing projects safely, on time, and on budget.
We’ve discussed at length on this blog the potential cost of not getting utilities right, as well as how unmitigated utility risk can turn any project into an expensive nightmare. Project owners and project managers without a well-established strategy for utility coordination run the risk of project delays, costly utility relocations, and expensive and dangerous utility strikes.
Utility coordination helps all stakeholders in the construction process mitigate utility risk by facilitating communication and information exchange early in the project process. The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) defines utility coordination as: “Project owners and facility owners/operators regularly communicate and coordinate with each other concerning future and current projects.”
By setting a coherent utility strategy from the outset, project owners and project managers can keep their projects on track. That requires balancing and coordinating between the many utility stakeholders that need to work together to provide a complete picture of the utility landscape for a project.
Utility mapping can be a crucial tool for successful utility coordination. It provides one central reliable source of data that combines existing as-built sources with extensive visual-analysis and AI based subsurface information, giving everyone a more complete understanding of the subsurface. Utility mapping can find discrepancies between as-built data and real-world conditions, allowing all stakeholders to dodge unwelcome surprises later in the project lifecycle.
By getting an early look at subsurface utility conditions in the conceptual and pre-design phases, project owners, project managers, estimators and engineers can better understand the utility landscape of their projects. Armed with quality data gathered through remote sensing and computer-generated methods, they can make more effective bids, better allocate risk, and avoid costly redesigns later in the project delivery process.
Utility mapping can also allow SUE experts to confirm the location of utilities more efficiently in a project site, giving them a compass to guide their efforts and ensuring they don’t miss utilities that aren’t easily discoverable using common SUE tools. Remote utility mapping that integrates a range of data sources can also cut down on wasted time spent shuttling between state, county, municipal, and private data records. And it can help engineers create the most accurate as-builts possible as they close out a project—in turn, helping all stakeholders get paid on time.
Interested in seeing how utility mapping can help your next project? Contact us!
and see how we can shine some light on your utility strategy.