Low Impact Marking With Metal Utility Markers
The topic of low impact marking is nothing new among those in the locating industry, but until relatively recently, a lack of clear solutions has left locators in search of products that demonstrate a clear advantage over the traditional spray paints, stamps and other unsightly marking systems.
As older urban infrastructures increasingly deteriorate, locators must decide whether to continue lining street corners, sidewalks and roadways with these highly visible (and publicly despised) markings or reduce their public footprint using low-impact marking alternatives.
Let’s explore the shortcomings of traditional marking techniques and the advantages of alternative low impact marking systems.
Addressing the problems facing underground asset locating and marking
Low impact marking techniques were created to help solve one of the biggest concerns of locating today:
The unsightly appearance of spray-paints in our public spaces.
After years of applying what the public often sees as “graffiti” to our urban landscapes, some states have attempted to reduce over-marking by enacting legislation that would require locators to carefully designate marking areas ahead of time.
Florida’s Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act is seen by many as the model by which other states may try to place similar limitations on locators. In short, Florida’s laws require excavators to request marks for areas of work that can “reasonably be accomplished” within the 30-day life of a Florida ticket.
After that, the excavator can only request marks for portions of the work remaining to be finished. The aim of this system is to reduce the automatic, repeated recalls of broad tickets, which can result in marking areas that may never be affected at all.
Unfortunately, as with many regulations, loopholes can often be found an exploited. In the case of Florida’s system, locators can take advantage of a simplified online ticketing system to exaggerate project boundaries resulting in unneeded marks that fall outside of actual digging areas.
While better education and communication among locators and the clerical assistants carrying out requests is an important step forward, low-impact marking tools such as metal utility markers reduce the need for unsightly paints altogether.
Using customized metal utility markers to overcome the problems of traditional marking techniques
Aside from being highly visible in public, some paint markers can fade too quickly when exposed to weather, requiring locators to spend extra time re-locating and re-marking assets.
Metal utility markers give locators a low impact alternative for long-term asset marking. Constructed of extremely durable aluminum and bronze, these markers can remain in place for years even in the most punishing environments. Ranging in size from two to four inches, they occupy just a fraction of the space taken up by spray lines and stamps.
In addition to durability and smaller size, metal utility markers can be customized to display information about a particular asset, eliminating the need for filling a project area with a variety of colors and symbols while giving excavators even more certainty that they’re digging in the correct places.
A common pushback to using metal and plastic utility markers as an alternative-marking tool is paint’s speed and easy application.
While this is certainly a valid advantage among less efficient marker products, Berntsen’s metal utility markers are able to be installed faster than any other concrete marker in our catalog, and can be placed in wet concrete as well as existing concrete.
Using Berntsen’s countersink drill bits, locators can quickly insert an included expansion plug and tap the marker into place. Without the need for mixing and applying epoxy or grout, markers can be placed flush with concrete surfaces to provide an unobtrusive marker that can remain in place for years to come.