GPR Case Studies


ACS Underground SolutionsACS Underground Solutions, a privately owned consulting company in Georgetown, CT., has provided utility locating, leak detection and sewer inspection services to utility and construction companies, engineering firms, municipalities and academic institutions for more than 20 years.

The company has been using ground penetrating radar (GPR) equipment since 2006.

The company’s president, Ian Beaver, is a former pipefitting laborer who switched from finding leaks and fixing water main breaks for the city of Manchester in the United Kingdom to locating pipes as a one-man operation after moving to the United States in 1993. Today, the company Beaver founded in the early 1990s is supported by eight employees, working primarily in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

While the company’s most longstanding customers include several New York-based organizations, such as Pace University, New York University, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the United Nations headquarters, some of their most significant work in recent years has taken place in neighboring New Jersey, at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Setting the stage for the big game
ACS Underground Solutions had successfully located and marked out utilities in and around the older Meadowlands football stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. The company was hired to survey and locate the fiber optic communication, sewer, water, gas and electrical lines for construction of the MetLife stadium, the new home to the New York Jets and New York Football Giants of the National Football League.

“More than 5,000 piles needed to be driven into the ground for the new MetLife stadium, but existing utilities were still operating in the old stadium, and it was imperative they be protected at all cost,” Beaver said. “Our experience and expertise with the new stadium kept us at the top of the contract list to help prepare the venue for the championship game last February.”

On a normal game day, parking capacity at MetLife Stadium and the greater Meadowlands Sports Complex is around 29,000 cars. For Super Sunday 2014, only 11,000 parking spaces were available and tailgating was prohibited. The remaining parking area was transformed into a security perimeter, a staging area for satellite trucks and other support vehicles, and an area for warming stations and welcome pavilions.

Because the 2014 championship game was being played in cold winter conditions, plans called for warming stations and heated welcome pavilions for spectators. “More than 1,117 tent pegs had to be driven five to 10 feet into the blacktop to accommodate all the tented stations,” Beaver said.

More than 60 generators were required to provide additional power for the pre-game hospitality, the media and the halftime show. “For all those generators, another 1,500 piercings had to be driven 10 feet into the surface for the grounding bars,” Beaver said.

Before a single hole could be made for the tent pegs or the grounding bars, ACS Underground had to survey the entire area with their GPR equipment.

GPR a game-changer
“It took us six weeks, working in the freezing cold, to complete the job,” Beaver said. “We had to make sure the piercings didn’t hit any of the fiber optic lines or the other gas, electric, telephone and water utilities under the surface. We’re talking about a massive amount of plastic lines, fiber optics, storm drains and sewer lines. We never could have performed work on this type of scale without ground penetrating radar.

“This was one of the most rewarding jobs we’d done with GPR,” he said. “Watching the media coverage before and during the game, there were signs of our work all over – green spray paint with ‘ACS OK’ with an arrow to indicate that a test point had been cleared for drilling through the surface.”

ACS made an investment in their first GPR unit, a Swedish-made system, back in 2006, however they soon became frustrated with the system’s performance and the lack of support from the manufacturer.

“We shared our frustrations over that first system with Ron Labarca, president of US Radar, and he met us out on one of our jobsites and demo’d his GPR equipment,” Beaver said. “Until then, we had never seen trenches and utilities light up the way we did with US Radar’s equipment. I was so impressed; I bought four GPR systems from Ron on the spot.”

Today, ACS Underground uses four GPR systems from US Radar. “We’ve been very happy with US Radar, and Ron and his team do anything they can for us,” Beaver said. “Our US Radar GPR equipment consistently helps us expose the utilities and verify depth so we can get paint on the ground. It’s helped us identify sewers, water mains, cable and fiber optics that supposedly weren’t there.”

GPR delivers
Before the advent of GPR, Beaver said he would often leave a job with 90-percent confidence. “Today, with my US Radar GPR equipment, I leave every job with 99-percent confidence,” he said. “You can’t go out and locate everything with a GPR, but I generally use it for the last two hours of a job as a verification tool.”

In the Northeast, soil conditions pose unique challenges for GPR. “We come across everything from big rocks and boulders, to porous soil, to red clay and sand,” Beaver said. “You can never predict what you’re going to get, and sometimes you’ve got to fight for it. We use our GPR equipment to find underground storage tanks, oil tanks, plastic lines and concrete lines.”

Working in such a specialized industry, Beaver said the use of GPR equipment has helped increase his company’s productivity by 100 percent. “You need GPR to get on any job today,” he said. “Even though GPR may not do all the work, you still need it on the job.”

Based in Matawan, NJ, US Radar is a leading manufacturer and distributor of surface-penetrating radar, also known as ground-penetrating radar, systems. The company was formed in 1994 to promote the Seeker SPR technology, determine and test new applications, and identify product improvements. Since 2002, US Radar has been an independent company with complete manufacturing and engineering capabilities and worldwide customer marketing, support and service.


Since 1952, J.F. Kiely Construction Co., of Long Branch, New Jersey, has built a successful utility installation business by focusing on safety, reliability, and efficiency. While keeping focused on that three-pillared formula, Kiely willingly embraces new technologies that provide a competitive edge.For example, in 1986 J.F. Kiely got a head start on the competition when it became the first excavation contractor in New Jersey to perform directional drilling kiely" alt="" />for the utility industry, safely and efficiently applying the new technology for installing gas lines, water lines, and electrical conduit.

More recently, the company’s early adoption of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) systems helped J.F. Kiely stay one step ahead of the crowd while addressing all three of its operational strategies. “We’re always open to new technology, as long as it improves our safety, reliability, and efficiency. Ground-penetrating radar addresses all three of those objectives—it’s an excellent tool to have in your toolbox,” says John M. Kiely, president and third generation of Kiely family leadership.

“Our company is committed to improvement,” he adds. “The idea of ground-penetrating radar made a lot of sense when it was first introduced, and it’s gotten better with each succeeding generation of equipment.

“We were one of the first contractors in the region to embrace the technology, so we have been working closely with US Radar for a very long time,” says Kiely of his company’s longtime reliance on GPR systems manufactured by its Matawan neighbor, US Radar Inc. “They continue to improve their products and technology—we are anxiously awaiting their new triple-frequency system later this year.”

Ground Penetrating Radar
J.F. Kiely Construction Co. was an early adopter of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) systems. It currently uses four GPR systems from US Radar, including this 500 Series model, designed for locating utilities up to 15 feet below the surface.

Value-Added Service
The company dispatches any of its four dual-frequency US Radar units to jobsites before the work begins. The cart-based, walk-behind systems employ radar frequencies that discover buried infrastructure components, construction remnants, and various sub-surface anomalies to enhance the safety, reliability, and efficiency of new excavations and installation of new utility network components. Each unit incorporates a portable computer that analyzes the radar signals and displays the results on a screen, easily visible to the GPR unit operator.

“GPR is a value-added service,” Kiely explains. “It’s not required on every job, but we rely on it to address challenging circumstances.” The benefits are numerous. “With GPR, we get a better idea of the unknown,” Kiely says. “The more we know about what’s underground, the better. It goes back to our focus on safety, reliability, and efficiency. One of the biggest benefits in using GPR is finding unmarked lines, and giving that information to the crew to help prevent damage. It’s a damage-reduction and avoidance technology.” The company’s GPR operators are specialists who not only understand the technology and know how to use it, but also have interpretive skills in analyzing the results.

Full-Service Utility Installation Contractor
J.F. Kiely Construction serves utility companies throughout New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The company employs union workers and operates from four full-service shop locations throughout New Jersey. Its fleet encompasses mobile equipment, covering every category of equipment required for utility excavation and installation.

A self-described turnkey provider of underground utility services, J.F. Kiely Construction specializes in the installation of underground utilities, including natural gas, water, telecommunications, electric, and sewer. In addition to excavation, installation, and restoration of underground utilities, the company also offers pressure testing, welding, plastic fusion, and high-pressure tapping and stopping services.

Focus On Training
In 2013, J.F. Kiely Construction provided 12,412 hours of training to its workforce. Those hours included courses in more than 15 categories, such as general safety, operator qualification, trench and excavation (competent person) training, hazardous materials operations, fire extinguisher, natural gas emergency response, forklift safety, work zone safety, confined space operations, and pipeline facility locating.

“We develop our own talent and teach them the skills they need to build their careers,” Kiely says. “We’re a family-friendly business, three generations in the making. We’ve hired many inexperienced people over the years who have learned skills and applied them throughout successful careers with us. And, in some cases, their children also have come to work for us.” Recent market conditions have been challenging, Kiely notes, but says, “We’re a growth-oriented company, so we are focused on the pockets of success that exist even in the current economic climate.”

A continued strategic reliance on cutting-edge technologies—such as US Radar sub-surface imaging systems—will remain key to J.F. Kiely’s future growth and success.



GPR - Ground Penetrating Radar - Utility Locating
When Hanover Engineering began work on a 20-mile long sewer project estimated at $18 million, they knew it wouldn't be easy to analyze the subsurface rock on the trench lines. Traditionally, this task would require boring test holes approximately every 30 feet--a tedious, time-consuming approach that's still regularly followed. If the project's team had stuck with this approach, more than 3,500 holes would have to be bored for analysis.

But Hanover Engineering, an East Coast firm providing consulting, civil engineering and support surveying services, did not have the time needed to bore that many holes. The project's timeline was restricted by a grant, and so there was nothing for it but to search for a faster, more modern method to accomplish the work.

"I felt we needed to find some type of system, some type of equipment, that could survey in a way that we could analyze the amount of rock on these trench lines," said Matthew Epler, EIT with Hanover's Ephrata, Pa., office.



Our Seeker SPR 500 System recently played a vital role in helping the Scottish Egyptian Archaeological Trust explore the historical Saqqara Necropolis. The 500 MHz antenna with controller was pulled across the Saqqara dig site on the edge of the Sahara Desert in a 0.5 meter grid pattern. Images produced by the Seeker SPR 500 allowed archaeologists to detect buried ruins.


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