Google Maps of the Underground
If your company is paid to dig through the soil’s surface to build/repair/install pipelines or utility lines, you know the drill:
Call 8-1-1, the locator company sends out an engineer with equipment to find the line(s) in question. When he’s satisfied where the line is, he or she takes out a can of spray paint or handful of small flags and marks said line.
Every player in this everyday scenario has done his or her job. The problem is, many times preciseness isn’t part of all the paint marks and flags. With 2.5 million miles of pipelines and nearly 15 times than mileage amount for underground utilities, companies spend roughly $10 billion per year to (hopefully) identify the exact location of underground lines, and another $30 billion annually to fix damaged pipes and utilities.
In 2014, Page Tucker, who had experienced first-hand the problem of avoiding underground accidents at his father’s oil and gas construction company in British Columbia, saw the future and it was digital, super-fast and super precise. Tucker is Chief Executive Officer & President of ProStar.
A software developer, Tucker also was a visionary. He saw it was possible to determine where underground lines were exactly where his software said they were. Regardless of how many lines were scattered, ProStar’s product, PointMan, would find the hidden lines, down to within a single centimeter.
And it all works in seconds — on a cellphone.
“We knew that all the technology we needed to make PointMan do what we wanted would fall into place,” said Tucker.
PointMan is a patented (one of 20 U.S. and Canadian patents held by Tucker) cloud and mobile mapping software application that captures, records, and displays the precise location and associated metadata of surface and subsurface infrastructure.
PointMan’s Cloud runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), achieving scalability, flexibility and security. Running on AWS allows PointMan to provide systems integration while supporting any sized business or government agency, anywhere in the world, in any currency, and in any language.
Partnering early on with Deere & Co. and pipeline giant Enbridge, all the while using a lot of trial and error in improving its product, ProStar/PointMan made rapid progress and today, cuts the typical time needed to map locations from three to 10 days, to seconds.
“Knowing the origin, locational accuracy methods, and integrity of utility data are critical to managing the risks of using that data; ProStar’s attribution of precision, pedigree, and provenance to utility data delivers measurable confidence to stakeholders,” according to Jim Anspach, Founding Governor, the American Society of Civil Engineers Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute.
“As a company, we are continually evaluating best practices and industry trends and technologies so that we can prepare our students to be successful when they enter the workforce,” said Donald Richard, Vice-President of LMI, Canada’s Locate Management Institute, an education, training and assessment organization for locator organizations.
“Recognizing that the underground locating industry is going through a digital transformation, we wanted to be at the forefront in preparing locators on leading-edge utility mapping technologies,” Richard continued.
“By adopting PointMan into our curriculum, we are confident that our students will be better prepared and highly sought after by companies in the underground facility locating industry.”
Tucker said his days of knocking on door begging companies, government entities and academia to give his PointMan a look-see are over. He gets 10-12 inquiries a day, vs. the same number monthly not that long ago.
“(North America engineering-construction giant) Kiewit has told us ‘We could have the Holy Grail of construction’,” Tucker said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has tested PointMan and felt so strongly it is the way to map underground, a Colorado state law mandates PointMan must be used when the underground is to be disturbed.
Now, Tucker is returning somewhat to his roots. ProStar is joining Shale Directories, recognized as the top online directory serving the Marcellus, Utica, Permian and Eagle Ford Shale plays.
Shale Directories will help ProStar penetrate the oil and gas industry, with its members, contacts and conferences facilitating introductions to O&G players. “We’re pleased to have ProStar as member and look forward to working the company to continue to build its sales,” commented Joe Barone, President & Founder, Shale Directories.
“We’re globally available, there is no issue with scalability, we’re web-based, you just log in and away you go, Tucker said.