PAS 128 – 3 years on, is anyone any the wiser?

Hailed as a means for customers to understand what they are actually ordering and compare like-for-like utility survey quotes fairly, it is now 3 years since PAS 128 (Specification for underground utility detection verification and location) was published.

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So has it achieved what it set out to do and is it being widely adopted? Sadly, not in our view.  However there are signs that things are changing.

The biggest problem with the PAS, is that the specification requires the client to liaise with the survey company to determine the right methodology level for their site.  This in turn requires the client to have a detailed understanding of the PAS, and it is all too easy for a busy client to simply ask for ‘a PAS survey’ with the result that they often receive widely differing quotes from different suppliers, based upon different PAS 128 methodologies, thereby negating the very point of the PAS itself; or the client with all best intentions asks for the most intense PAS 128 methodology throughout the site, with the result that the final cost is unaffordable and the survey doesn’t proceed.

The methodology is determined by the expected density of utilities on the site. Different methodologies can be applied to different areas of the site.


As part-funders of the PAS, with two technical directors appointed to the Drafting Panel and the Steering Group, SUMO must take some responsibility for this outcome, but the good news is that more and more customers are now becoming familiar with PAS 128 and are working with us to identify the exact scope of each survey that they require, including regularly subdividing the survey area, so that the appropriate methodology is applied to each area, thereby fully addressing the safety needs of the project, whilst minimising the overall cost of the survey.

SUMO 128Plus+… more than just a PAS compliant survey

Many clients are also specifying SUMO’s higher level SUMO 128Plus+ which allows us to double check for more discrete utilities and identify other anomalies such as voids and foundations, which a standard PAS 128 survey won’t always find.

If you would like to find out more about PAS 128 and how SUMO can help you to achieve the right quality survey at the right price, please contact our Utility Survey Director Peter Marsh who will be happy to assist.