The Difference Between Ground Penetrating Radar Systems, Electromagnetic Locating Surveys, and Concrete X-Ray Scanning Services

At On Point Locating, we are proud to offer an array of locating services. From finding utility lines in the ground to determining the proper reinforcement of concrete slabs, we provide a wealth of information that architects, designers, builders, contractors, and property owners need to know.


Contrary to popular belief, though, we use different equipment for the various tests we provide. A ground radar survey is significantly different from a concrete scanning test, which is different from an electromagnetic survey. This blog post will explain the differences between our various technologies, as well as the benefits behind each.


Ground Penetrating Radar Systems vs. Electromagnetic Survey Equipment


Let’s start with ground penetrating radar systems and electromagnetic survey equipment, as these technologies are frequently mixed up by customers. The confusion is justified. Both techniques excel at locating underground fixtures and developments. The way they go about finding those fixtures, though, is not the same.


As you might expect, electromagnetic locating equipment is used to generate an electromagnetic radio frequency. When applied to an underground asset, these electromagnetic frequencies essentially ping the locations of the service that is being induced. In other words, anything containing a conductive metal can be identified and located using this type of equipment. As such, electromagnetic locating is typically a good way of finding steel gas lines, water pipes, sewer systems, storm water drainage systems and cables for communication or electricity.


The problem with relying on this technology by itself is that electromagnetic locating only works for finding materials that conduct electricity. As such, it is not capable of detecting pipes, tanks, or services that do not have metallic components. Since these utilities are sometimes made of non-metal materials—such as concrete, nylon or plastic—it’s essential to have an alternative locating technology.


With a ground radar survey, you can locate non-conductive materials and installations. Ground penetrating radar systems still use electromagnetic radiation but in the microwave band. These signals, when applied to the ground act as any other radar would. When they hit something they are reflected back. The radar system picks up these reflected waves and uses them to ascertain the location of whatever they hit.


At On Point Locating, we use both technologies to deliver the most accurate and comprehensive results for our clients. If you ask us for pipe, cable, or utility services, you can expect us to employ both electromagnetic and ground radar survey systems.

What about Concrete Scanning?


For concrete scanning, meanwhile, we use an entirely different method. X-ray technology is reliable for peering through the surface of the concrete and finding post tension cables, rebar or other reinforcement structures. If you plan to drill or cut concrete, it’s important to note the locations of reinforcement structures before you penetrate the surface. Our concrete scanning services will yield the safest penetrations—both for your personnel and your equipment.


Whether you require a concrete scan or the location of conductive or non-conductive utilities, On Point Locating can provide what you need. Contact us today if you have any questions.

GPR or Ground Penetrating Radar
Hydro excavtion or non destructive excavation