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HDD Locator: A Quick Guide

HDD Locator: A Quick Guide

Horizontal Directional Drilling Locator Guide

Learn all about an HDD locator and how it works in horizontal directional drilling.

What is an HDD Locator?

HDD locator guides your horizontal directional drill’s head with precision when installing or replacing cables and pipes. Whether you are a housing developer or a utility company, if you need to dig underground, you have to do so without hitting existing underground pipes and cables.

An HDD locator resembles a metal detector that tracks your drill and ensures that the drill follows a pre-determined pathway and avoids existing conduits underground.

How Does an HDD Locator Work?

Horizontal directional drilling allows you to install cables, conduits, and pipes underground by following a planned path without damaging existing installations. HDD is a trenchless technology that uses HDD locators for electronic guidance and tracking. This helps you ensure that your drill is going in the right direction. You can use the HDD locator to speed up digging operations.

An HDD locator System has three main components, which are:

  • Transmitteryou can find it right behind the drill head. It collects data and relays information about the location, allowing you to direct your drill in the right position.
  • Receiver – a handheld unit to receive data sent by the transmitter.
  • Remote Display – a screen on the drill rig that displays all the information from the receiver you need to know about the right position of the HDD.

Types of HDD Locator

There are three types of HDD locators used in the underground drilling process.

Walk-Over HDD Locator

Your sonde located right behind the bore head registers the rotation, angle, temperature, and direction. The transmitter then relays the data to the surface where the walk-over HDD locator receives it. However, you have to manually position your walk-over HDD locator right above the underground sonde transmitter's position.

Wire-Line HDD Locator

This type of HDD locator uses a magnetic guidance system via a wire grid laid above the surface. The wire-line fitted with your drill relays information from the transmitter to the locator.

Gyro-Based HDD Locator

A gyro-based HDD locator is one of the most accurate locators that offer unmatched precision in horizontal directional drilling services. This is due to its ability to stay unaffected by magnetic interference. This HDD locator is perfect for long-distance drilling. However, it is a sensitive equipment and may be prone to drift. This locator is more expensive than its other counterparts and only serves better for projects that require drilling 600 feet distance or more.

The Takeaway

Knowing your drill's location and position is critical for underground drilling operations. Furthermore, a location system is an expensive investment, but it is worth it due to its efficiency, speed, and precision.

If you wish to buy high-quality new or used HDD locators for your drill operations, visit You can also check other guides on our website to learn about other components of horizontal directional drilling.
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