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Measuring cables and pipes digitally and accurately prevent excavation damage

  • 5 min read

The Netherlands is a country with extensive infrastructure. A lot of infrastructures. From highways to waterways and from overhead cables to underground pipes. Considering the amount of underground infrastructure, measuring cables and pipelines is very important. This applies to newly laid cables and pipes, but also to keeping track of what is already in the ground. Digital measurement helps you with this, in the Netherlands and abroad.

Digital measuring the new and existing

To prevent excavation damage to cables and pipes, it is important to measure centimetre accurately. In most situations, the existing situation is explored and released by means of a test trench, after which measurements are taken. In this existing situation, previously laid cables and pipes are examined, so that they are not touched during excavation work.

This process is easier with new cables and pipes, you measure these before the test trench is closed again. Because you measure at an open slot, you see the measuring process better. Literally. Thanks to digital measurements, you know the centimetre accurate position of (new) cables and pipes, which prevents excavation damage. Even years later, thanks in part to the KLIC report.


To measure existing cables and pipes properly, it helps if you know where they are approximately. For this, you make a so-called ‘KLIC report’ in the Netherlands. This notification to the Kabels en Leidingen Informatie Centrum (Cables and Pipelines Information Centre) is mandatory for contractors, cable companies, and other excavation contractors when they want to dig in public spaces. The online report is submitted to the Kadaster (Land Registry), which then requests information from the network operator about the location of cables and pipelines in the requested area. This information is sent to the applicant as a download link to a zip file with cable and pipe information, which can be viewed directly in UNI-Connect. With this, applicants immediately comply with Dutch legislation, because since 1 April 2021 it is mandatory to have KLIC information digitally with you at the project location, in order to prevent excavation damage and other accidents.

1,7 million kilometres

The Netherlands has more than 1,7 million kilometres of underground cables and pipes. This includes pipelines for gas, oil and water and electricity cables, among other things. For example, the entire Dutch Energy Act alone consists of 310,000 km of electricity cables and more than 135,000 km of gas pipes. Because all these pipes, cables, and pipelines have been laid underground, the exact location of every meter is unknown. This increases the chance of damage caused during excavation work. About 5% of the excavation projects cause damage to cables and pipes, that is more than 33,000 cases. Together, these cases represent a cost of about €25 million per year. Not to mention possible dangers such as gas leaks, power failure, and other nuisances!

KLIC and digital surveying

After obtaining the requested information due to the KLIC report, the digital surveying itself starts. Start by drawing previously laid and new cables, pipes and (house) connections on a digital map for current and future work.

A test trench is dug for cables and pipes that have been laid previously, as mentioned earlier. After these have been dug and the existing situation can be seen, measurements are taken using a digital receiver. A digital receiver such as the UNI-GR1 with easy-to-use measuring software that can also be used with new cables and pipes, where there is an open slot already. You can measure lines that indicate the centimetre accurate position of a water pipe, with points that indicate the branch to the house connection. Pay attention to the requirements that your client has set.

Saving money and time

The requirements for measuring cables and pipes are laid down in the specifications. This document states exactly which data must be registered during the process; from main pipes to branches and (project) specific names to any requirements regarding colour use. Therefore, read the specifications carefully before you start, so that you provide the requested information correctly in one go, thereby saving time and money.

You take matters into your own hands with your own UNI-GR1. You can measure whenever you want and no longer have to wait until a surveyor has time. In addition, your results are immediately visible in the UNI-Cloud, which is your personal data cloud. This allows your colleagues in the office to carry out revisions immediately, which is a major efficiency boost. You will also see the KLIC message in the KLIC viewer, which is integrated into your measurement software. Because you no longer have to wait for a surveyor, you save money and time. There are no more hiring costs and the trench can be closed immediately. After all, you have already measured the required points and lines!

Getting started

You can start measuring digitally by becoming familiar with the possibilities. The possibilities that current equipment such as the UNI-GR1 offer you, but also those that you generate through a new way of working. Plan a non-binding demonstration on location, so that you can see how digitally measuring cables and pipes makes your work easier and more specific.


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