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3M Location and Marking System - Markers and Locating Equipment

3M Location and Marking System - Markers and Locating Equipment

Everyone knows you should “call before you dig” thanks to all the safety ads, but when the guy comes to check if it’s safe what does he use to make sure you can dig? Same goes for construction work, how do they know where they can dig and where the various utility lines and pipes are? There’s an easy answer to that. While they may not use this exact equipment, chances are they are using 3M’s Locating and Marking System or something just like it. 3M’s Locating and Marking System gives you a lot of different options to help you quickly and easily find utilities and specialized markers all the way up to 8 or 9 feet underground at the deepest and depending on the equipment you’re using. Using this system, you’ll not only be able to find 3M markers, but most of the industry standard markers as well. Here’s a quick overview of this line of location and marking solutions.

3M location markers and depth

First and foremost, the locating and marking system works in all soil types (including wet and dry), under asphalt/cement and depending on the marker, can be detected anywhere from 2ft underground all the way down to 8-9ft underground depending on the setting. Each level of depth of course requires a different, stronger marker as outlined below and in the graphic.

  • 2ft – Point Marking - 3M EMS Near surface Markers (RFID Option)
  • 4ft – Path Marking – 3M EMS Rope or EMS Tape
    • Batteries and external transmitters are not required
    • Install near or above the location being marked
    • Easy to follow clear path above ground
    • Can be used in open trench or HDD (horizontal directional drilling)
    • No batteries or external transmitter required
    • Works independently so if part is cut or removed the remaining pieces still work
    • Available in five frequencies for unique identification for each type of utility
  • 5ft – 3M EMS Ball Markers (RFID option) and 3M EMS Disk Markers (RFID Option)
  • 6ft – 3M EMS Mid-Range Markers (Mini-Markers)
  • 8ft – 3M EMS Full Range Markers (RFID Option)
    • The 7000 series adds an extra foot of detection for passive markers and non-ID markers can be detected up to 9 ft.

The markers help make identification quick, easy and accurate as the markers, tapes and ropes are color coded for each type of utility making it easy to find. The markers also show:  facility data, application type, size and shape of the material and the date the marker was placed. This means once you scan the marker, you’ll know exactly what’s below you and where it is. The variety and versatility of 3M’s markers gives you reliable results and data nearly instantaneously.

You can also write to and program to the markers with the Dynatel EZ-Stations but you can also get the writer and the stand separately. You can write to up to 10 RFID markers separately and program them to properly identify all types of utility resources located underground.

Dynatel locator comparison

Once you’ve placed the markers or need to investigate a place that has markers, they can be found with one of several 3M Dynatel locators. There are several different styles available, each with their own features. There is of course some overlap in features, but they become optional depending on the model. You can refer to the graphic to easily compare the main attributes. They all of course feature accurate readings and simple, clear and easy to read displays making your job much easier.

First up is the 3M Dynatel Pipe/Cable/EMS locator 7500 series and it comes fully loaded. Using six active frequencies (four induction frequencies with maximum power) it can locate/read/write electronic markers, measure cable/pipe/sonde depth, identify cable pairs, tone shorts and grounds in aerial cable, detect energized power cable, measure signal current in cable or pipe, and as you would expect, the specialized markers. Other helpful features it includes are GPS compatibility, passive power, EMS tape and rope location and it can also come with an optional rechargeable 2200RB battery. This is really the one that does it all.  

The Dynatel 2500 series locators and even the 2200M series also share many of the same features, although most of them come as optional. Features include the ability to locate/read/write to the electronic markers. The 2500’s do not locate the EMS marking tape and rope, so if that feature is not needed this could be a good option. The 2250M/2273M models (there are multiple models in each part category) use directional peak combines the response from four peak antennae to indicate left/center/right direction to the cable/pipe and features a multi directional null that shows null signal and automatic gain. These models also use multiple antennae to show cable/pipe location and direction and they also feature ultra-sensitive special peak for extreme depths.

In addition, both the 2500 series and 2200M series come with the following built-in features:

  • Measure cable/pipe/sonde depth
  • Measure signal current in the cable/pipe
  • Identify cables/cable pairs
  • Tone shorts and grounds in aerial cable
  • Locate energized power cable
  • Four active frequencies Four active frequencies: 577, 8k, 33k, 200k (133k for Export models), simultaneously
  • Three induction frequencies 8k, 33k 200k
  • Tone mode 577Hz and 200kHz pulsed at 8Hz
  • Transmitter has 3, 5, and 12 Watt (maximum) power output options
  • Fault finding option
  • Electronic marker locate/read/write and alert mode option
  • GPS communication capability for GIS mapping
  • Semi-automatic gain set with manual fine tuning provides maximum flexibility and control
  • Unique “expander” function for fast tracking and pinpointing position
dynatel 2573

If you only need to locate tapes, ropes and markers, 3M’s Dynatel Marker EMS Tape locator 7420 is the perfect tool for the job. The Dynatel 7420 detects all frequencies of 3M EMS path marking tape/rope as well as industry standard electronic markers and frequencies to a depth of 9 feet. With the push of a button, it can also give an estimate of depth for passive iD markers and EMS tape. It can also read and write iD markers. Lastly, the 7420 series can communicate via GPS and perform GIS mapping of pipe cable paths and electronic markers. All of this can be easily seen via the large backlit, high-res display. The Dynatel 1420 also features these same abilities but does not locate tape/rope.

With 3M’s Dyantel location devices, markers, ropes and tapes, you’ll be able to find almost any utility line and also mark and label them to make sure they can be found and identified properly later on. Useful for construction crews and jobs, utility workers and other professionals these markers and locators making digging easy and safe.

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