Over the last 15 years, GPR systems have become easier to operate, with simplified menus and more capabilities in the field. Still, it is important for the GPR operator to understand the data they are acquiring and the context in which to apply it. Too often, operators are sent into the field without adequate knowledge to perform their job properly. A knowledgeable operator should have a thorough understanding of:
EQUIPMENT: use equipment to its full capabilities, including software for data analysis and report writing
INTERPRETATION: interpret data in the context of the application (i.e., water pipes are buried below the frostline in northern climates so an object two feet deep will not be a water main).
METHODOLOGY: appropriately apply GPR as part of workflow
As operators build technical skills and knowledge, they will have more confidence when interpreting data and stronger communication skills when discussing jobs with customers. Good operators would likely be retained and cultivated as an asset by their company, as it increases the organization’s intellectual capital.
There are a variety of options available to further GPR learning. When looking for this type of training, it is important to look for a course with a strong emphasis on field work, including GPR for specific applications. Within the Damage Prevention industry, a course specific to using GPR within the Utility Locating discipline is especially relevant.
Not all courses are created equal. Look for Nulca-accreditation, which means the course meets the requirements set by Nulca for GPR Locating Technicians. These requirements are competency standards which ensure operators are provided the right knowledge and skills set to perform their job.
Participating in a course that provides hands-on time collecting data is extremely valuable as it allows students to interpret data in real-time. Equally as important, student-instructor interactions can help clear up long-held misunderstandings about certain GPR concepts.
Sometimes, traditional in-person courses are just not an option. Additional ways to learn and engage are available:
• Training videos: videos can demonstrate detailed operations and are great as a precursor to actual in-person training or for training new hires.
• Webinars: free live and recorded on-demand webinars are often available by equipment providers. Topics can range from software use to application and interpretation of data with new content added regularly.
• Custom online training: using conferencing software, personalized one-on-one training can be done anywhere, anytime. This is especially useful for people who are not able to participate in live courses, but still have a need to learn about GPR in a custom, personalized environment.
There are many options for training and a suitable learning plan can easily be tailored for your organization. Whichever options you choose, make sure your operators receive continual and updated training on their GPR equipment to ensure accuracy of the work performed and better results.
Troy De Souza is training manager with Sensors & Software and invites readers to visit sensoft. ca/gpr-training-events/ to learn more about GPR training opportunities.