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Communications Cable Locating


Help eliminate the guesswork! The 3M™ Electronic Marker System (EMS) is a cable locator that helps save telecommunications companies time and money by enabling field crews to quickly pinpoint the location of buried facilities. 3M also offers wide product support and service that can help increase safety, performance and reliability.

3M cable locator markers operate even in the presence of metal conduit or pipe, metallic conductors, fences, AC power lines and electronic markers of other utilities. All EMS markers used for communications location are color-coded to APWA standards for visual reference and have their own frequency, helping reduce the risk of accidentally locating and excavating other buried facilities. For communications utilities, all telephone locator markers are orange and CATV markers are orange/black.

Using 3M EMS markers during construction, installation and maintenance virtually eliminates the time consuming search for hard-to-locate facilities. 3M's EMS telecomcable locator series can be used to locate:

  • Handholes
  • Buried splices of all types
  • Repair points
  • Buried service drops: Service stubs
  • Slack loops
  • Depth changes
  • Laterals
  • Bends: changes of direction, arcs
  • Depth changes: lateral deflection
  • Fiber optic facilities with no metallic conductor
  • Conduit stubs
  • Encasement ends: conduit ends of horizontally directional drilled facilities
  • Manhole covers
  • Water crossings
  • Major road crossings
  • Rail crossings
  • Utility crossings: locations where the cable crosses over or
  • under other utilities.
  • Non-metallic facilities
  • Other items of value or interest

3M Locating & Marking Products

3M™ Dynatel™ Locators

3M Locating & Marking Products

3M™ Dynatel™ Locators combine simple interfaces, large backlit high-resolution graphics, excellent balance and ergonomics with precision locating capabilities to help you quickly and accurately identify underground assets.

3M™ Dynatel™ Locators can be used to trace pipe and cable paths, locate sheath faults, provide accurate pipe, cable or Sonde depth measurements, locate buried electronic markers, read/write to 3M iD Markers and interface with GPS instruments to create accurate maps of underground facilities.

3M™ Dynatel™ Locators are available in a range of configurations from fully-featured pipe, cable, fault and electronic marker locators to basic cable avoidance systems.

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3M Passive and iD Markers

It takes just minutes to learn to use the 3M Electronic Marker System (EMS), and finding buried markers is just as easy. The locator transmits an radio frequency signal to the buried marker. The marker reflects the signal back to the locator, and the location is indicated with both a visual meter reading and an audible tone.

3M offers several forms of electronic markers with different ranges to best meet your needs. Electronic markers are also available in two forms - Passive and iD. Both options are designed to provide an accurate, convenient, long-lasting method of marking underground assets. Passive markers are designated by industry to mark points of interest. iD markers perform the same function, but can also be programmed to include customer-specific information such as facility data, type of application, material type and size, placement date and other important details.

3M offers a variety of marker options:

3M™ Ball Marker 3M™ Ball Marker

Engineered for narrow trench applications up to 5’ in depth, the 4”-diameter ball marker has a unique self-leveling feature that helps ensure an accurate, horizontal position regardless of how it is placed in the ground. The ball contains a mixture of water and propylene glycol (a common additive in toothpaste, hair gels etc. and generally recognized as safe for use in foods by USFDA). The mixture is readily biodegradable in the environment and will not harm humans, wildlife or the environment in this application.

3M™ Near-Surface Marker 3M™ Near-Surface Marker

The near-surface marker is ideal for marking underground and street access facilities up to 2’ for Passive (Non-iD marker) and 3’ for iD marker in depth. Its 3.5” long cylindrical size and shape allows for easy installation in asphalt, concrete or rock without extensive digging or drilling.

3M™ Mini-Marker 3M™ Mini-Marker

Designed for marking applications at depths up to 6’, marker spokes in the 8.25” diameter mini-marker help stabilize it in the correct position after placement.

3M™ Full-Range Marker 3M™ Full-Range Marker

The full-range marker is suited for deep applications up to 8’. Its 15”-diameter makes it ideal for use as a digging shield over sensitive underground facilities.

3M™ Disk Marker 3M™ Disk Marker

Extended-range disk markers are four inches in diameter and have a vertical range of five feet. They provide an easy, accurate method of locating flush-mounted facilities which become covered by backfill or other obstructions, such as snow or vegetation. Easily affixed to the underside of non-metallic lids or covers. Not intended for direct burial in the soil.

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3M Pathmarking

3M EMS Rope 7700 Series 3M EMS Rope 7700 Series

3M EMS Rope 7700 Series incorporates an EMS marker installed into a polyester rope every eight feet and can be quickly installed above the pipe/cable or within conduit. It is tough enough to be installed down to four feet (1.2 m) through rugged terrain and provides durability for plowing or Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) applications.

3M EMS Caution Tape 7600 Series 3M EMS Caution Tape 7600 Series

3M EMS Caution Tape 7600 Series uses a new EMS marker technology embedded into a caution tape for installation near or above the buried facility. It can be buried down to two feet (0.61 m) and is ideal for early detection/warning due to this low depth.​

3M Accessories

3M Accessories

We offer a full complement of accessories, attachments, and replacement parts for the 3M™ Dynatel™ Locating and Marking Products

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News Feature

Buried Treasure in Virginia

The Virginia Dept of Transportation (VDOT) is saving time, money, and headaches by using underground facilities markers and cable locators to accurately pinpoint the location of buried telephone, gas, power, CATV, water and fiber-optic utilities. To minimize the risk of errors and damage, and to help increase safety on a $70 million reconstruction project in Washington D.C, VDOT installed EMS markers for all underground utilities from the start. Read story (PDF, 1.11M)

Press Release

3M Underground Technology Takes Off at BAA

British Airports Authority (BAA) has begun using The 3M™ Electronic Marker System (EMS) to accurately pinpoint the exact location of the many underground services buried beneath Heathrow Airport. The cable locator system is enabling BAA to dramatically reduce the time, cost and errors associated with carrying out work on underground services, as well as helping the company to comply with its strict health and safety standards. Read story (PDF, 78k)


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