A pipeline marker is a simple thing, and they come in lots of shapes and sizes. The purpose of a permanent marker is to create awareness of the presence and approximate location of your buried facilities. An important job considering:
- There were over 44,000 damages where there was no call for a locate.
- There were 22,000 damages where a one-call was made, but locate marks were not visible.
A professional excavator will always do a site survey before digging. Even a weekend warrior with a rented backhoe will think twice about digging without a locate if the facility operator employs an effective permanent marking system. Step one is selecting the right tool for the right situation.
When choosing your marker consider these factors:
In rural areas, well placed markers of any style are tolerated. In suburban subdivisions homeowners, associations and retail locations may be resistant to some styles of markers. Most people just don’t want a tall brightly colored marker in the middle of their front yard. In cities where there is concrete from building to building, upright posts or free standing signs just aren’t practical. Consider the population density of the area to be marked when choosing your marker.
- In agricultural areas with tall growing crops like corn, sorghums, and sugar cane, consider the height of your markers. Even tall growing grasses in a ditch can obscure the visibility of the warning marker.
- A white sign becomes nearly invisible when the ground is covered in snow. Consider the color of environment if you want your message to be visible.
- Harsh climates like the Arizona desert can be tough on permanent markers. The constant pounding of UV radiation can obliterate your warning message if you choose the wrong materials or manufacturer.
- Consistently windy areas are a tough place for signs installed with any hardware. Wind fatigue can cause signs to rattle me eventually fall of their posts.
- It can be next to impossible to dig a hole in rocky or extremely hard packed soils. Choosing a marker that can be driven into hard ground or affixed to U-Channel post will ease installation.
The safety of your buried facility, of your ROW, and of the environment must be considered when choosing your marker.
- Markers must be visible from 360 degrees to be effective. The safety of your buried pipeline or cable just might depend on a potential excavator seeing your marker.
- Markers that may be impacted should be made to rebound. A marker that lying down flat on the ground isn’t doing its job. ATVs, snowmobiles, vehicles, or even farm equipment may impact your markers. Additionally, metal posts can be a safety hazard on the ROW.
- Standard fiberglass posts can degrade relatively quickly when exposed to harsh sunlight. As the resins degrade, the fiberglass migrates the surface causing “fiberbloom.” The now fuzzy looking posts are a safety hazard to any person or animal that may touch them.
Permanent markers are an integral part of your public awareness, damage prevention, and operations & maintenance programs no matter what type of buried facility you are protecting. Make sure you consider all relevant factors when choosing.
Permanent markers, effectively placed along rural ROWs, are the most effective way to communicate the presence and approximate location of a buried cable or pipeline. When surveyed, over 70% of the affected public said they knew about the presence of a buried pipeline because of the presence of a marker. They are a common-sense tool that can reduce the risk of 3rd party damages.
Nowhere in regulation or regulatory guidance, will you find the term “Line-of-sight”. Instead, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Association (PHMSA) says markers must be placed “in sufficient quantity as to make the location of the line accurately known”. To accomplish this, place markers at a maximum interval of 300 yards.
It is important to place markers at all road crossings, but first define the type of crossing, then address them individually.
A road is a thoroughfare designed to be used by motorized traffic. Roads to be marked are those used frequently enough as to require maintenance.
Private roads like a field road, section line, or a drive should have a marker on one side of the road.
For public roads with a shoulder, place markers at the highest elevation, with a lateral offset of 6-12 feet from the shoulder.
For public roads with no shoulder, place markers at the highest elevation, with a lateral offset of 6-12 feet from the nearest traveled section of the road.
For public roads with a barrier like a guardrail or a curb, place markers behind the barrier with a lateral offset of 3-6 feet.
Markers must be placed at all railroad crossings. Place markers as close as practical to the centerline of the facility at the intersection of the Railroad ROW. A copy of the design (including a full color drawing) must be provided to the railroad.
Markers must be placed at either bank when crossing a water body like a creek, river, or stream. For navigable waters, include the message “WARNING BURIED FIBER OPTIC CABLE” or “PETROLEUM PIPELINE” and “DO NOT ANCHOR OR DREDGE” in letters large enough to be read from the center of the crossing.
When pipelines and cables cross farm fields and other agricultural areas, markers directly over the facility aren’t practical. Markers should be placed where the line enters and exits the field at a height sufficient to be seen above tall growing seasonal crops. Offset markers to be placed along the nearest fence line and at all field road entrances, and clearly read “WARNING NATURAL GAS PIPELINE” or “FIBER OPTIC CABLE” and “MARKER OFFSET PIPELINE or CABLE NOT UNDER MARKER”.
For more information, questions, or to work with one of Rhino’s industry specific Damage Prevention Consultants call us at 800-522-4343 or click here.
Here at Rhino, our most popular product is the TriView. The TriView comes in several configurations – Test Stations, Ventguards, Extensions, and an almost unlimited number of color combinations that can help differentiate your markers on the ROW.
The TriView is manufactured exclusively at our facility in Waseca, MN. We start with our proprietary blend of thermoplastics we call RhinoPoly. RhinoPoly is more flexible and more resilient than High Density Polyethylene (HDPE).
The virgin resins are piped from our silos to one of our extrusion lines where computerized controls and digital metering deliver consistent temperatures, pressure, and viscosity. The RhinoPoly is blended with a precise mix of UV stabilizers and pigment providing vibrant colors and the durability to withstand even the harshest environments.
Heated by friction, the blend is fed from the head to the tooling where the vacuum pressure and our cooling tank give it its shape. The Triangular profile emerges and is pulled along to an automated saw and is cut to length.
Next the triangular tube gets its cap. The caps are injection molded in our xx ton press just a few steps away and receive the same bend of pigment and UV stabilizers. The caps are fastened to the tube using galvanized staples to resist corrosion.
The post is then taken to the punching station where it receives our patented TriGrip Anchor. The bottom of the post is inserted into the punch where compressed air activates the tooling.
The post is almost ready to be decorated, but first we need to flame or “corona” treat them. All plastics have a surface energy that that causes them to be non-receptive to bonding with printing inks and adhesives. The corona treatment equalizes the surface energy of the thermoplastic making it receptive to permanent bonding.
Our decals are printed with UV stable inks on a vinyl substrate with a low-tack adhesive backing that cures over time. Decals are applied taking care not to touch the treated plastic as any contaminates could interfere with adhesion.
The finished posts are finally collected at the end of the line where a quality control tech will inspect them and count them one last time after they are loaded into a gaylord and onto a pallet. Pallets are then forklifted over to the staging area where they shrink wrapped, weighed, and tagged for shipment.
There are TriViews in every US State and Canadian Province protecting pipelines and cables. We take that job seriously and work hard to ensure they will perform their mission for at least 10 years.
In the era of smartphones and high-speed internet, we have all come to expect information to be instant and at our fingertips. So, when a customer calls to ask, “What does a marker post cost?” I cringe at the answer: it depends.
There are four key factors that will influence the cost of any marker or sign:
- Style: Fiberglass composite or “carsonite” style markers can range in cost from about $9 – $20, TriView and RhinoDome pricing will fall into the same range.
- Size: As the length or size of the marker post increases, so does the price. When determining the length needed, you must consider the desired above ground height as well as the installation method.
- Quantity: Quantity discounts are offered for individual orders, project requirements, or even anticipated annual usage.
- Customization: Custom colors, extra holes, or unusual configurations may require additional charges
As an example, if you buy a round Dome-style marker, 72” in length, use approximately 5000 over the course of a year, and require an extra 3 holes to be drilled in specific locations, your cost would be about $12.75 each.
We can provide quotes by phone calling 800-522-4343 or online at RhinoMarkers.com
Better Answer – Better Question
The question I would much rather answer, is “What is the cost of a permanent marking system?”
The marker post might be the backbone of your permanent marking system, but it’s only one of many tools you can employ to help increase public awareness and prevent damages to buried facilities.
- Upright posts along rural ROWs placed at intervals not to exceed 100 yards, will do a good job warning potential excavators.
- Installing flexible and unbreakable marker posts with a 10 year guarantee (TriView PLUS) will greatly reduce maintenance costs and lower the overall cost of ownership.
- Using U-Channel posts, drive rivets, and a 4’ RhinoDome allows for fast, easy, and permanent installation slashing labor costs and freeing up valuable time.
In areas where upright marker posts are not practical, surface markers like SoilMarkers, curb markers, and A-Tags will warn potential excavators about the presence of buried facilities. Ranging in price from less than $1 to $5, these inexpensive and easy to install surface markers are a great way to improve the overall performance of your permanent marking system.
At the end of the day, the reason you install pipeline or cable markers isn’t just to comply with a regulation or follow a design specification. Permanent marking systems mitigate the risk of 3rd party damages, and the cost of one damage can easily exceed the cost of marking your entire system.