Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)

OMNI Communications provides Utility Locating Services for identifying, locating, and mapping existing underground utilities using state-of-the-art geophysical sensing equipment and non-destructive excavation techniques. Experienced professional technicians perform all research, field surveys, testing, data management, quality control, and final CAD Plan Preparation for the most demanding underground utility locating and utility survey projects.

SUE Quality Levels, as described by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), classify the quality of subsurface utility information obtained based on degree of risk and accuracy, from Level D (low quality) to Level A (highest accuracy).
Quality Level D: Record Research/Data Collection
Information derived from records research or oral history. This level of service can provide a "feel" for the overall congestion of utilities, but is often limited in terms of comprehensiveness and
Quality Level B: Utility Designation
Designation data is collected by thorough applications of appropriate surface geophysical sensing technology. Located utilities are marked, field-tied to project monumentation, and mapped onto plan documents.
Quality Level C: Visible Surface Feature Utility Survey
Utility surface feature data is obtained from surveying and plotting above ground utility features. Level C data supplements Level B data and finds omissions and errors in record information.
Quality Level A: Underground Utility Locating  (Test Hole)
For this highest confidence level, precise horizontal and vertical location of utilities is obtained using non-destructive vacuum excavation equipment to safely expose, measure and map utilities. Includes all other Quality Level tasks and conflict resolution.
OMNI SUE Project Types
  • Highways
  • Airport
  • Railroad
  • Transit
  • Building Construction
  • Environmental
  • Any project where underground utilities may be encountered
SUE Benefits
Subsurface Utility Engineering reduces risk and saves significant time and money by eliminating the need for plans, revisions or utility relocations due to unidentified utilities conflicts discovered during construction. 
  • Accurate location, description, and condition of buried utilities is  known and correctly shown on design or construction plans.
  • Reduce project delays and costs during design and construction due to unforeseen utility conflicts, relocations and additional survey requests.
  • Improve productivity and quality during design and construction.
  • Minimize risks of utility damages / improve safety in work zones, reducing insurance liabilities.
  • Avoid unnecessary utility relocations.
  • Quick response to critical utility concerns.
  • Improve scheduling for utility data.
  • Cost savings for the client and utility companies.
OMNI SUE Procedures
OMNI covers all the bases for obtaining comprehensive subsurface utility information.  
  • Obtain utility records from owners identified by the local one-call system, and provide the client with a list of all utility owners and contacts. This would typically include, but not be limited to:
Fiber Optic Lines
Cable Television
Traffic Control Systems  
Forced Sanitary Sewers
In the case of a private site, the utilities may include steam, petroleum and communication lines that interconnect buildings.
  • Appropriate traffic control and warning signs are used during all phases of field investigation and survey.
  • Utilities are then designated using electromagnetic or Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).
  • Marked utilities are then collected using conventional or GPS survey equipment.
  • The collected utilities are plotted in an electronic format chosen by the client. These plots are compared to field sketches and utility records in the quality assurance phase.
  • Mapped utilities are delivered in a hard copy plot and / or electronically in Microstation or AutoCAD format. This information is integrated into the design file where utility conflicts can be identified and addressed.
SUE Stats
Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE) is a branch of engineering practice that involves managing certain risks associated with utility mapping at appropriate quality levels, utility coordination, utility relocation design and coordination, utility condition assessment, communication of utility data to concerned parties, utility relocation cost estimates, implementation of utility accommodation policies, and utility design.
-- As defined in Standard Guideline for the Collection and Depiction of Existing Subsurface Utility Data, CI/ASCE 38-02, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2002.

  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) commissioned study determined an average project savings of $4.62 for every dollar spent on SUE.
  • ASCE has standard guidelines for SUE best practices.
  • SUE has resulted in 20% shorter construction schedules.
  • The DOT has found utilities location deviation without SUE to have errors averaging as much as 20 feet from locations shown on existing plans.
  • Other data indicates that up to 20% of utilities encountered on highway projects have no previously existing records available.