What is the best locator and Why?

Best Utility Electromagnetic (EMF) Locator

Most EM locators do the same basic functions. How ever there are some differences between the major brands of these tools used by professional locators. In most cases a professional utility locator can use any of these and get good results. The differences can add up over time when used in specific situations though. Some of the key factors are: base functions, weight, price, more frequencies, more features, different hardware and software’s to save time, accessories and training offered by manufacturers and other key variations to em locators that can make life easier to use over time for your locating company.


The main differences when using or purchasing EMF Locators:

  1. Firmware, Hardware, Software
  2. Number of Frequencies
  3. Different User Interfaces/Displays
  4. Toughness and Durability
  5. Price and Maintenance Costs
  6. Available and Required Accessories

The RadioDetection Brand and Manufacturers have been leading the way in EMF Locators for the last 30 years. Many brands have tried to take market share by offering cheaper alternatives and novel features or accessories to compete with the RD series of EMF locators.


I have put together a list from best to worst (in my option as a locator). This list can give you an idea on the best available. Also what to look out for and avoid if possible with the lower end locators.


RadioDetection RD Series (United Kingdom, SPX Co)

These products are at a premium price but for good reason. If you are growing a company and make enough to justify the expense via taxes, or buy refurbished/secondhand if on a tight budget. These products are the best on the market, The benefits can be noticeable day to day, to inferior products, Its the same difference of comparing any niche technology products, and is like the difference between the cheapest and more expensive products in any market (cars, phones ext). The point being, if you can afford to buy from RadioDetection you should, you will be doing your company, employees and customers a favor. Why?, they will have less downtime, cheaper maintenance, last longer, better user experience and wider application training available.


2. Vivax Metrotech (USA, California)

Vivax Metrotech VLoc ML-2
The VM-ML-2 is a general-purpose locator used to detect
buried pipe and cable services in a variety of situations. With a 50/60Hz passive power locating frequency and three active frequencies, the VM-ML-2 locators will meet the requirements of those wishing to detect the presence of active power cables and to trace short ranges.


3. Leica (German)

Leica ULTRA Utility Detection and Tracing System

Good firmware for signal processing with over 100 programmable frequency operational modes.

When working in congested urban projects, the Leica ULTRA System helps with Ambient Interference Measurement (AIM), this feature has digital analyses for the surrounding area, this measures the noise and recommends the best frequencies for better outcomes.


4. Schonstedt (USA, WV)

This company was brought by SPX Co, Radiodetection in 2018, probably because they were taking market share in more specific locators, 400-600htz and there patients on there products.


These other brands can get the job done, but are usually acquired because of their price, or used because of availability.


5. Dynatel™ Series 3M (USA)

Dynatel™7573-iD locates sheath or ground faults on both short and long cable sections, and the Dynatel™ 7550-iD does everything the 7573 does without sheath and ground fault detection.


6. Utiliguard 2 BRAND: Subsite (USA)

This locator has all expected base functions, such as Ambient Interference Measurement (AIM), GPS integration and a decent display that can be reed in most work site conditions.


7. Sonel (Poland)

Built for harsh cold conditions, the hardware will most likely hold up better in weather below 0 degrees, upto -30 degrees. Has all necessary frequencies and functionality that is expected these days from a good utility locating tool. Includes GPS and Bluetooth features if needed for integration within mapping/surveying softwares.


8. AT-3500 BRAND: Amprobe (USA)

I have seen a prominent gas company in Australia use these units. However the inexperienced operator still called our company to locate what was missed by his efforts. These units can still work well with the right training and operator.


9. HT-5000 BRAND: HT Italia (Italian)

This Italian brand of locators are probably best for locates in Italy. I have not used this brand before, so I can’t say with certainty how good there products are. However if Italian is your first language, its best to get products that can train you in your native tongue.


Resources:

https://www.radiodetection.com/en-au

http://vivax-metrotechaus.com/

https://leica-geosystems.com/products/detection-systems/cable-locators/leica-ultra

https://www.schonstedt.com/

https://www.3m.com.au/3M/en_AU/p/c/tools-equipment/detection-monitoring/

https://www.subsite.com/

https://www.sonel.pl/pl/

https://www.amprobe.com/

https://www.ht-instruments.com/en/products/voltage-detectors-and-others/localizers-buried-cables/ht-5000/

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