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Mobile communications solution keeps workforce ‘In Touch’ at Glensanda

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

The Scottish Western Isles boasts Europe’s largest coastal super-quarry. Located on the remote Morvern Peninsula and only accessible by sea, Glensanda brought some major challenges to its operators, Aggregate Industries. A key issue was the lack of mobile communication with key workers due to poor signal strength and outdated equipment. This was a major concern to management, not only from an operational point of view, but it also raised many health and safety issues.
Built into the hillside, Glensanda had various operational areas which all needed to be linked. It has a mile long tunnel within which is a conveyor carrying product from a primary surge pile to secondary and tertiary crushers. Inevitably, the key workers must enter the tunnel on a regular basis. Tunnels are notorious for radio transmission problems and Glensanda was no exception. With communications almost non existent, management were concerned that the workforce could be at risk, particularly within this unique environment.
As the national preferred supplier to Aggregate Industries, In Touch Ltd were commissioned to provide an integrated mobile communications solution for the whole of site. Working closely with 2CL (the company’s Motorola Main Dealer), In Touch conducted a thorough site survey and met with local management to identify the key issues.
The existing radio system was rather unusual in the fact that it was operated through a talk through repeater station based on an island in the middle of Loch Linnhe. Initially this worked fine, however as the quarry increased in size communications began to deteriorate, despite the installation of additional equipment in the extraction area. Radio coverage in the tunnel had always been problematic and as such, it was the main driver in implementing the new system to improve health and safety on site.
The challenge given to In Touch was to provide radio communications for the tunnel and throughout the whole of the quarry. Giving utmost priority to communications performance and reliability, In Touch’s expert technicians recommended the installation of two talk-through base stations, using directional aerials and linked together by land line and microwave links with the rest of the site to provide a total communications solution.
The remoteness of the site and importance of communications highlighted the need for a robust and reliable system which would be resilient to harsh conditions. This was factored in when designing and building the system and battery back up was installed throughout, enabling the system to continue operating for up to 5 hours if a power interruption occurred. As an added safety feature, should part of the system fail, then a fallback mode of stand alone repeaters would become operational.
At the tunnel, the workforce were provided with radios which scan between the tunnel frequencies and the external frequency, greatly improving site safety and allowing instant and clear communication with management and co-workers.
In Touch were also able to assist in obtaining all the relevant licences from OFCOM which included both duplex and simplex channels required to support the communications systems on site.
David Lamb, Deputy Works Manager for Yeoman Glensanda comments “Lack of good radio coverage in some key areas of the quarry had been a safety concern for some time but finding a workable solution has not been an easy path. Once again In Touch and 2CL have proved they have both technical knowledge and creativity to come up with solutions that are practicable and affordable.”
John Walden, Managing Director for In Touch Ltd added “Site safety has to be of paramount importance in the quarrying industry and we are very proud to have provided a greatly improved communications system for the workforce and management at Glensanda”.
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