Product Risks

General Warning

All instructions and warnings in the DigiTrak Locating System Operator's Manual/Quick Start Guide must be read and understood before attempting to locate an underground drill head. Safe and accurate use of the DigiTrak Locating System requires proper calibration by user, correct operation, and adequate operator training.

WARNING: Lithium Battery Notice

DCI is receiving a high volume of calls related to lithium batteries used in transmitters. SuperCell™ lithium batteries are recommended because they meet or exceed the requirements of horizontal directional drilling. SuperCells and Electrochem’s equivalent have a 20 year history of performance. The usable capacity of batteries is temperature dependent and can be adversely affected by shock and vibration. SuperCell batteries have a working temperature range of -40°F to 302°F (-40°C to 150°C) and are built to withstand extreme shock and vibration.

Many lithium cells being sold are designed for lower current draw applications. As battery voltage lessens due to use, higher current is drawn increasing the likelihood of degraded performance. The inconsistent build quality of some lithium batteries has also been cited with warranty replacement rates as high as 25%. Using high-quality lithium batteries designed for horizontal directional drilling is your best choice for maintaining uptime in the field.

WARNING: Using Repaired Locating Products Introduces Significant Project Risk

DCI has evaluated the repair work of one of the leading companies that is offering repair services for legacy DigiTrak products like the Mark Series and Eclipse locators. Findings indicate that while simple repairs like a loose wire or a broken hat switch can be completed in a straightforward manner, other repairs are either unable to be completed or repaired incorrectly. The impacts of incomplete or incorrect repairs include unreliability of the product and, in some cases, significant risk of error in locating.

SUMMARY

  • Repairs to the digital signal processing component and other sensitive electronic components failed to pass calibration tests after the repair was completed.
  • New failures were introduced to the system as a result of repair work. These new failures can lead to inaccuracy in locating.
    • Depth antennas failed to pass QA tests
    • Depth readings were not within 5% which is an AEM standard
  • Units sent in for repair utilize substandard components. In general, repair work is well below the quality standards that DCI maintains in the originally manufactured item.
  • Failure by the repair shop to use specialized tooling leads to physical damage to the system. This compromises the receiver's ability to withstand environmental factors.

Transmitters

DCI has also investigated the quality of transmitter repairs performed by shops around the world. The purchase of "repaired" transmitters introduces unnecessary risk to a project.

SUMMARY

  • Poor quality of workmanship was found to be a major factor in the accuracy and durability of repaired transmitters.
  • Transmitters that are submitted for repair contain many electronic components that have been stressed due to significant use and other factors. Many of these components are not being replaced during the “repairs”. This can lead to premature failure of a repaired transmitter.
  • Longevity of repaired transmitters can sometimes be measured in 2 or 3 jobs.

A repair shop may provide repaired transmitters that work a portion of the time. However, for that (not insignificant) portion of repaired transmitters that are unreliable or, worse yet, don’t perform with the same accuracy, there are huge implications in terms of safety, liability and reputation of the product.

DCI has recently introduced transmitter designs that are more durable and last longer. With this new, patent-pending architecture, DCI’s new line of transmitters are lasting significantly longer than before.

Industry Impact

The reputation of equipment suppliers and contractors in the HDD industry is important to protect. Safety has always been a priority for the industry. As the underground becomes more crowded it is critical to use equipment, locating systems and best practices to obtain results that reinforce the safety and value of today’s trenchless techniques. Sensitive electronic components can’t be “refaced” the way a reamer can. Above all other factors in a successful HDD bore, the importance of locating the head and hitting your planned target can’t be overstated.

In recent months, the Distribution Contractors Association has been spearheading a campaign designed to increase awareness about the possibility of cross-bores in our industry. This is an example of how the industry is recognizing a potentially catastrophic risk associated with the use of outmoded equipment, inaccurate locating systems and poor job site practices. Cross-bores and utility strikes can be deadly and have consequences beyond the impact of “return days” and lost profitability.

The relationship between a contractor and a client develops over the course of many years. Confidence in that relationship can be ruined instantly when a routine bore results in a missed target. It’s embarrassing to the crew and can put the business relationship at risk.