What is Detectable Underground Warning Tape

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Working with underground assets can be quite tricky. Buried reclaimed water lines need digging for installation and repair. The same thing applies to buried fiber optic lines, communication cables, and gas pipes. Because of this, one wrong move can be costly to fix. But, detectable underground warning tapes are the solution for this problem.

detectable underground warning tape is made of aluminum core or stainless steel wire. This allows it to be detectable using metal detectors. Its presence shows that there are nearby underground assets on the site. This provides a warning that workers should proceed with caution to prevent injuries.

Are you interested in knowing more about detectable underground detectable warning tape? If yes, then you have come to the right page. This article will provide you with more information about detectable warning tape.

What are the Uses of Detectable Warning Tape?

The main use of detectable warning tape is to ensure that there is a properly installed demarcation when it comes to valuable underground utility installations. This helps reduce the risk of injury to the personnel working in the area.

Moreover, working with a buried sewer line or buried electric line is a delicate process. One mistake can be costly to fix. Luckily, detectable warning tapes serve as a warning to avoid catastrophically inaccurate digging. This is also mostly the cause when working with a buried high voltage cable.

An underground detectable warning tape is also used in the following scenarios:

●       Construction sites

●       Locating utilities

●       Warn excavators

Different Kinds of Underground Warning Tapes for Buried Fiber Optic Line

There are two main categories of underground warning tapes; detectable and non detectable.

A detectable underground warning tape indicates where non metallic pipes are. These types of tapes commonly use aluminum core or stainless steel wire. This material makes it easy to spot by any standard metal detector.

These tapes are also made resistant to alkalis acids. It also has a feature that allows it to endure destructive underground elements.

The other category of underground warning tapes is the non detectable ones. These are color-coded. Its main purpose is to prevent dangerous and costly dig-ins. These are the different colors of underground non detectable underground warning tape:

●       White Color – Proposed Excavation

●       Pink Color– Temporary Survey Marking

●       Purple Color– Slurry lines, Irrigation, Reclaimed Water

●       Green Color– Drain and Sewer Lines

●       Blue Color- Buried Water Line

●       Orange Color- Conduit, Cable, Signal Lines, Communication, or Alarm

●       Yellow Color– Petroleum, Oil, Steam, Buried Gas Line

●       Red– Lighting Cables, Conduit, Cables, Electrical Lines

There is a standardized color-coding of the non detectable underground warning tape. Many different industries might interpret the meanings of the color. Having a pre-defined standard will prevent this from happening.

Aluminum Foil Detectable Warning Tape VS. Tracer Wire Detectable Warning Tape

Aluminum foil detectable underground warning tape is composed of plastic film layer and an aluminum foil detection layer, and the aluminum foil detection layer is pressed between the upper and lower plastic film layers. The plastic layers have rot and corrosion-resistant plastic. This ensures that it has exceptional strength characteristics.

Another unique characteristic of aluminum warning tape is its aluminum core. This core is detectable by metal detectors. With this, workers can know it’s there without needlessly digging for it.

The aluminum foil detection warning belt has the advantages of reasonable design, simple structure, easy processing, convenient use and long service life.
It is widely used in all kinds of underground pipelines and thermal, electric lines and telecommunication cables. It can accurately judge the laying location and arrangement direction of underground pipelines and telecommunications cables without excavation of the target roadbed before construction. Effectively preventing the damage of laid pipelines during excavation and the blindness and inconvenience of new pipelines, resulting in unnecessary casualties and economic losses.

Tracer Wire detectable warning tape is composed of high quality BOPP film, Polyethylene film and one or two piece of stainless steel wire. “S” shape line or straight line, 304 or 316 stainless steel tracer wire. The stainless steel tracer wires allow location from above ground, mark buried oil pipeline, gas pipelines, chemical pipelines, water supply and drainage pipelines, and thermal, electric and telecommunications cables.

They are made durable to withstand underground environments. There are 8 color categories for tracer wires. The material for this tape also can keep the high-visibility black text for an extended period. This does not wash off or smudge.

This is also highly recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standard Institute.

Underground Warning Tape Specification:

Warning Tape
3.2mil (80mic)15cm100m12 rolls15.2kgs52 x 36 x 32cm
3.2mil (80mic)15cm365m4 rolls17.3 kgs45 x 23 x 32 cm
4.0mil (100mic)15cm300m4 rolls18.5 kgs45 x 23 x 32 cm
4.0mil (100mic)15cm500m2 rolls15.0 kgs53 x 28 x 17 cm
Aluminum Foil
Detectable Warning Tape
5.0mil (130mic)2″1000ft12 rolls25.0kgs50 x 26 x 32 cm
4.0mil (100mic)3″1000ft8 rolls20.0kgs44.5 x 22.5 x 32 cm
5.0mil (130mic)3″1000ft8 rolls25.0 kgs50 x 26 x 32cm
5.0mil (130mic)6″1000ft4 rolls24.5kgs50 x 26 x 32 cm
Tracer Wire
Detectable Warning Tape
4.0mil (100mic)5cm100m18 rolls14.0 kgs53 x 36 x 17 cm
4.0mil (100mic)7.5cm100m12 rolls12.8 kgs53 x 36 x 17 cm
5.0mil (130mic)10cm250m4 rolls14.7 kgs30 x 30 x 42 cm
5.0mil (130mic)15cm500m1 rolls10.5kgs42 x 42 x 17.5 cm

What are the Materials Used in the Production of Detectable Warning Tape?

Here are the main materials used in the production of detectable warning tapes:

●       Stainless steel wires

High quality 304 and 316 stainless steel wire is a good choice for detectable warning tape, it has the characteristics of corrosion resistance, acid and alkali resistance, high-temperature resistance, not easy to abrasion, not easy to aging, good toughness, high strength and so on.

Bright surface, stainless steel has a good heat resistance and low-temperature resistance, good corrosion resistance, long service life, buried underground for 5-20 years without corrosion.

●       Aluminum

The main material used in the production of detectable warning tape is aluminum. This type of material is popular for its lightweight and infinitely recyclable properties. This material is used in different ways in the construction industry. For example; as aluminum backing.

Moreover, aluminum is also naturally resistant to corrosion. This is the reason why it’s ideal to be used in underground environments. This is because the surface can be moist or humid. Also, the cost of aluminum is very reasonable.

It’s the preferred material when it comes to underground detectable warning tape. This is because, unlike steel, it does not corrode.

Aside from aluminum, another commonly used material is plastic. There are many types of plastic out there. But, the one that is used for this tape can either be nylon, polypropylene, or polyethylene. These types of plastic are highly durable and tear-resistant.

●       Plastic

Underground detectable warning tape usually consists of 3-4 layers, and the outermost two layers are plastic. This provides added protection to the aluminum foil and stainless steel wires.

Moreover, it does not disrupt aluminum’s and stainless steel natural ability to detect metal detectors by equipment.

●       Ink

Lastly, detectable warning tapes also use special types of ink. These are smudge-proof and long-lasting. This is especially the case with the color-coded variant. This is because it has to keep its marking even after an extended period.

What is the Production Process of Detectable Underground Warning Tape?

Detectable underground warning tape manufacturing is like how other types of caution tapes are made. But, some processes might vary from one to another. For example, the case with Presco underground detectable tape.

Moreover, the material used in the manufacturing of this product might vary. Most of the time, the materials used are more heavy-duty because of alkanes and acid in the soil that it is buried in.

Furthermore, these warning tapes must also follow the standards provided by certifying bodies. For example, in the US, detectable underground warning tapes must have ANSI and OSHA specifications in terms of color. But, the materials, thickness, and dimension can be decided by the manufacturer.

Meanwhile, there’s a different standard followed in the United Kingdom. The caution tapes in the United Kingdom must have alternating colors at 45-degree angles. This means that it’s easy to identify where the caution tape is from. By simply looking at its color and pattern you can immediately know if its made for the US or the UK.

Following the recommendation of a regulatory body ensures that there is a standardized meaning for the detectable underground warning tape. This makes it easy to identify whether the workers are dealing with gas pipes, a buried reclaimed water line or communication cables.

What is the HS Code of Caution Tape?

HS Code stands for Harmonized System. These are commonly used in the exportation of goods. It’s a standardized, numeral method of categorizing traded products such as caution tape. These are commonly used by customs authorities to determine taxes and duties. These are also used for gathering statistics data.


This is the HS code for import caution tape:

●       3919- Plastic, flat, roll, or unrolled sheets, film, foil, strip, and self-adhesive plates

●       391910- In rolls of a width not exceeding 20 cm:

●       3919101010-Pavement marking tape

●       9505- Entertainment, festive, or carnival articles

●       39199090- Other types of caution tapes

●       3920- Other plates, sheets, film, foil and strip, of plastics, noncellular and not reinforced, laminated, supported or similarly combined with other materials:

●       39201000- Of polymers of ethylene

●       3926- Other articles of plastics and articles of other materials of headings 3901 to 3914:

●       392690- Other:

Meanwhile, the HS code for export caution tape is this:

●       3919- Plastic, flat, roll, or unrolled sheets, film, foil, strip, and self-adhesive plates

●       39199010- plastic stickers

●       39191000- caution tapes in rolls that are not more than 20 cm

If the product is from the US, you can check its HS code using the tool provided by Census Bureau. But, suppose it is quite difficult to classify. You can refer to the Cross-database, also known as Customs Ruling Online Search System.

To get a better idea of the HS code for your foreign product, you can use foreign tariff database tools.

Final Words

All kinds of underground pipelines, crisscross underground, forming a group of underground pipelines. There are a lot of benefits in using detectable underground warning tape. It can reduce hazardous or dangerous situations in construction and road repairs sites. It provides a warning to workers to proceed with caution and pinpoint where exactly to dig in.

Choosing a Detectable underground warning tape might sound like a complicated feat. But, most brands in the industry follow similar standards. This means that the determining factor when choosing all boils down to the quality and durability of the warning tape.

But, to avoid choosing substandard detectable underground warning tape. Make sure to check how it’s made and what materials are used in its manufacturing. This will give you a better idea of whether it can withstand the exposed. Also, remember that the underground environment is rich in acid and alkenes.


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