3M Expands RFID Marker System for Underground Facilities

Accurate and efficient location of specific underground facilities and details about them are key features of the 3M RFID Marker Locating System. 3M is expanding its product family of RFID-enabled electronic utility markers with the release of new markers designed for near surface and deeply buried applications. These new markers join the existing RFID ball and disk markers to address a broad range of permanent marking needs for utilities and other assets.

The 3M RFID Marker System, first of its kind in the industry, provides positive identification of marked facilities, making it more valuable for locating and maintenance than conventional passive marker locating.

3M RFID marker locating technology enhances management of underground facilities for telecommunications as well as natural gas, water, sewer, CATV and electric power utilities. It can pinpoint both conventional passive markers and new 3M RFID markers on all of the established utility marker frequencies. It also provides efficient cable/pipe locating and fault location.

3M’s Marker Locator System includes hand-held 3M Dynatel 2200M Series locator units, which offer compatibility with industry standard GPS/GIS field data collection devices for real-time mapping of marker placement and enhanced asset and resource management.

“The 3M Dynatel RFID Marker Locator System uses a new technology with a custom chip inside that can be programmed in the field to convey important information about each marked underground facility,” Corey Willson, 3M marketing manager, said. “Markers are located by means of a utility-specific radio frequency signal and respond to the locator with details, including a unique identification number as well as unique feature attributes that provide positive identification of the underground facility.”

Unlike conventional markers, the new 3M system can differentiate every marked underground feature, even distinguishing between the facilities of competitors having adjacent markers tuned to the same frequency. Software configuration functionality built into the 3M Dynatel Locator System provides ease of use even for inexperienced workers because each locator can be programmed to include only those marker frequencies required by the operator.

As the complexity and value of underground services continue to grow, with multiple communications and utility services sharing limited rights of way, maintenance costs increase, as does the potential for accidental damage. Thus, accurate, detailed and timely records are increasingly crucial to effective asset management. The new 3M Dynatel RFID Marker Locator System will be a powerful asset management tool and database/mapping resource, benefiting owners of underground facilities as well as contract locators as they pursue improved productivity and effective damage prevention.