Many energy related companies rely heavily on radio communications for coordination of personnel and assets on a site, across a region or both. They choose radio for many reasons:
- Dedicated communications for business. There is no possibility that an employee will be unavailable on a personal call when needed.
- Instant communications to one or many. Push to talk, no dialing multiple individuals or attempting to keep multiple cellphones connected for coordination of critical tasks.
- Rugged industrial grade devices with loud audio for noisy environments and high power transmitters for dependable remote talk back capability. Devices may be optioned as intrinsically safe for use in incendiary or hazardous environments.
- Simple service responsibility from regional communication firms. No waiting at retail stores or complex consumer type repair procedures. Service personnel repair and install onsite at customer locations on customer schedules.
- Easy billing. No complex cellular bills with numerous taxes and charges.
- Safe and legal. Two-way radios are fully compliant with Distracted Driver law and eliminate the potential for a cell phone related incident or fine.
Different Types of Two-Way Radios
When considering two-way radio one should be aware of the different types and configurations:
Mobile (vehicle mounted) Radios
Permanently or semi-permanently mounted high power radio units connected to vehicle ignition and a very efficient vehicular antenna. Advantages are that mobile radios offer the greatest range due to high power transmitters and high mounted antennas generally on roofs, headache racks or mirrors. They are best suited for fleets where the drivers spend the majority of their time in the vehicle. Disadvantages are obviously that calls may be missed when away from the vehicle though many are equipped with wireless handheld extender devices for use within 1000 feet of the vehicle.
Portable (handheld) Radios
Small, battery operated rechargeable radio units. Advantages are that they may be used in / outdoors or vehicle. Disadvantages are that range is less than mobile radios due to lower power transmitter and less efficient antenna. Unlike cellular phones, portable two-way radios are industrial grade devices built to stand up under 24-hour duty cycles, harsh treatment and may be optioned to operate in explosive or hazardous environments.
Base Station (fixed) Radios
Permanently mounted office devices designed to be a central dispatch point. While is not necessary to have a base station, many firms see value in the fact that office personnel may communicate with outside personnel without the need to find a portable radio or to go to a company vehicle. Remote extensions of the base station may be placed in multiple locations within a field office allowing selected personnel to use the radio system without leaving their desk.
Configuration Options With Two-Way Radios
All of the above radio units may be configured to operate unit-to-unit for limited range communications. Portable radios in this configuration may provide communications up to 2 miles, depending on topography and onsite structure. Mobiles and base stations will provide significantly greater range. Advantages of this configuration are that radios are not dependent on a tower network and do not have associated recurring usage fees. As a result they may be moved to other locations and used locally on other job sites.
All of the above radio units may be configured to operate through a tower network for wide area communications. Portable radio performance is dramatically improved in this configuration and actual coverage and range may be custom designed based on user requirements. Advantages of this configuration are obviously extended coverage. Additionally all wide-area configured radios have the capability to change channel settings and operate in an onsite unit-to-unit configuration.
About A&B Communications
Headquartered in Corpus Christi, A&B Communications understands the unique needs of the oilfield fleet operator. The company specializes in safe, reliable, private communications systems and devices for petrochemical refining, oilfield, medical and public safety.
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Kenneth E. DuBose
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