Month: March 2018

Ensuring Radios Are Used Efficiently In The Workplace

Two way radios make communications within the workplace much easier allowing for increased productivity of workers. Although an efficient method of communicating many mistakes can be made if users are not trained properly to use them, the same training that would be applied should a new piece of machinery be brought onto site.

Although it may seem fairly condescending, because how hard is it to use a walkie talkie? Well many people often struggle with some of the basic functionality meaning that messages can be missed, ending up in a result where often it would be quicker to walk to the other operatives to explain your message.

Talking to quietly is a common occurrence this being because people often don’t realise quite how quietly they are talking resulting in impacted communications. A fairly simply mistake to rectify, ensuring that when using a two way radio you speak loud and clearly, making sure that the other members of your team will hear your message and understand all incoming communications.

Similarly talking to quickly can affect communications. This can be an issue for a number of reasons because not only will the message be difficult to interpret, but also the receiver of the message will often struggle to break down what you are saying meaning that things will be missed. In stressful situations the user may be panicked and speak quickly, but it is always important when in dangerous or stressful environments to remain calm and quicker action will be taken.

The final point in communications is to not talk over other communications, wait until the other person has ended their transmission before beginning your response. Ensuring these clear communications will allow the workforce to run more smoothly, helping to improve efficiency and the overall workload of staff. In some two way radios, a feature is present that will block communications until the person currently transmitting finishes speaking, meaning that this is not a major issue.

On to privacy, you should never assume that all of your conversations whilst using a two way radio are private, unless of course advanced encryption software is being used on your devices. As a user you should never reveal sensitive or personal information about yourself across the airwaves, minimalizing the risk of a data breach or leaked information because of human error.

Two way radios are built to high safety standards, with the Ingres protection rating of a radio ensuring its capabilities in differing working environments, something you can read more on here. It is vital that regular checks of radios are carried out, ensuring that all pieces of the radio are fully working when going out into the field. It is also important to ensure that the charge of the battery is sufficient for the shift it will be working, also monitoring the deterioration of the battery allowing for a replacement to be ordered prior to it no longer functioning as required.

Alongside ensuring that radios are checked regularly the storage is a key aspect on the lifespan of the devices. Storing your two way radios in places that are in direct sunlight or where warmer temperatures are present, this can also cause for the depletion of the radios. The same can be said for storing them in a cold or damp area this will lead to a similar outcome. Ensuring that your radios are in a cool, dry place will ensure that they continue to operate correctly through their expected lifespan.

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Motorola Solutions Cellular LEX L10i: The Future Of Handheld Communcations?

After the release of the Hytera PDC760 in late 2017 we took a look into some of its capabilities in a blogpost you can find here. Motorola have chosen to raise on Hytera’s card and moving forward into 2018 have announced the release of their LTE device the LEX L10i, capable of communications using a 3G/4G network connection.

Designed with first responders in mind the LEX L10i allows the operatives to work safer, smarter and faster. Addressing unique requirements of public safety, this by delivering functions such as a dedicated emergency button that is not available on consumer grade smartphones. Dual SIM slots allow for dual network access providing optimal coverage and performance, this both in public and private broadband networks.

The Motorola LEX L10i is built with a sleek design whilst also remaining extremely durable to survive some of the harsher environments it may endure. Standing at 143mm in height, 72.6mm in width and 13.9mm in depth, the LEX L10i weighs just 195 grams when connected to the standard battery. Rubberized top and bottom surfaces help the device to absorb impact should the radio be dropped, whilst a Gorilla Glass 3 screen provides resistance to scratches, drops and increase pressure.

Comparing this to current day smartphones the cellular device in question has roughly the same dimensions as many of the current market leading smartphones. But the key difference lies with both its safety features and durability, with the LEX L10i having an Ingres Protection rating of IP67. This not only ensures that the radio is completely protected against dust intrusion, but also safeguards the radio against submersion in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Rated to MIL-STD-810 G also ensures the robustness of the LEX-L10i, having been tested to withstand a 4ft drop onto concrete.

The LEX L10i has a USB 2.0 high-speed (micro-A interface) charging port, this allows for much more efficient charging with the device able to be charged from 0 to 80% in just 60 minutes. 2GB of RAM and 16GB internal storage capabilities ensure the LTE device continues to operate smoothly, whilst also being capable of memory expansion of up to 64GB via the use of a MicroSD card.

Running on a Security Enhanced Android operating system the LEX L10i is secured with FIPS 140-2 Level 3 hardware encryption, whilst also having secure boot in order to detect any potential cyber threats. With the ability to operate in covert mode, the LEX L10i can be paired with Mission Critical Bluetooth in order to remotely control the radios zones, channel, volume whilst also being able to activate an emergency. The cellular device can also be paired with Bluetooth mission critical Bluetooth accessories, this for easy push-to-talk capability.

An intelligent user interface helps to ensure the ease of use for the LEX L10i. Multiple sensors automatically detect ambient light, location orientation, proximity, vibration and drops in order to enhance the users context awareness. PSX Activity Builder allows for agents to create a custom user interface for operatives, this to improve workflow and operating procedures, alongside the PSX User Interface that allows for customizable and context-aware for differing environments or tasks improving productivity and situational awareness.

Although a cellular device the LEX L10i is a Motorola Radio Collaboration, this provides Bluetooth-based remote control and management of radios’ zones, channel, volume, signal strength, battery life, PTT and emergency. Meaning that the device has all the capabilities of a two way radio within a cell phone, making it ideal for situations or environments whereby radio communications need to be both discreet but continue working at long distances.

Although not currently released the LEX L10i promises to bring a different aspect to the cellular branch of the market, with release set for 2018 this device is something worth keeping an eye on.

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The History of Motorola Two Way Radios

1937 was a year in which George VI was coronated, but also the year a breakthrough was made in telecommunications technology. Canadian inventor Donald Hings was the man who first made a portable radio signalling system, this for his then employer CM&S who were a mining and smelting company now more commonly known as Teck Resources Limited.

The first radio to be widely known as the more common name “walkie-talkie” was developed by current market leaders Motorola. Then known as the Galvin Manufacturing Company, a contract was received in 1940 to develop a portable, battery powered voice radio receiver/transmitter from the War Department of the US Government. The size of a backpack, the SCR-300 was used by the American Army, with around 50,000 units believed to have been built over the course of World War 2. This radio being a huge success for the American Military was later adopted by the British, using the design of the SCR-300 for the “Wireless Set No. 31” in 1947.

The first truly handheld radio was the AM SCR-536 yet again made by Galvin Manufacturing, only 3 years after the SCR-300 was made in 1937. Mass produced in 1941 this radio would also play a large part in WW2 with 130,000 models being manufactured throughout the war, with this model being carried by many of the first waves to hit Omaha Beach in Normandy alongside operatives of the SCR-300.

“Walkie Talkies” have long been used for military communications since first being introduced before the second World War. Modern day TETRA units are now used in line with Militant Forces across the world, with the ability to communicate on a variety of bands and modulation schemes whilst also including encryption capabilities. The advancement of technologies for the military now allows for use of GPS in order to help locate troops and their radios.

The SCR-300 would have been a rigorous exercise for the radio carrier, even with the lighter version B battery the radio still weighing 15kg, whilst also having an antenna that was 33 inches in length, and having an optional 10-feet 8 inches whip antenna. The SCR-536 on the other hand is a much lighter radio, weighing more similarly to the modern-day communication equipment at 2.2kg although the radio was extremely large in size.

Communication technologies has come a long way since the first system development in 1937, used for a variety of working environments radios such as the SCR-300 and SCR-536 have shaped the way people communicate in a vast array of settings.

Moving forward in 1947 was when Galvin Manufacturing Company changed their name to Motorola, a brand that would become a house hold name in terms of telecommunications devices both cellular and two way radios. From this point Motorola would go on to release the HT200 radio, a portable device that was classed as small and lightweight at the time weighing in at just 0.9Kg but nicknamed the “brick” due to its shape and durability.

Following on from the success of the HT200 the MX300 was released in 1975, these radios would operate on the 900MHz band. Including such features as status, identification and emergency alert features would set Motorola’s latest radio apart from the rest of the competition, this alongside its ability to work alongside computer-aided radio dispatch systems.

Motorola began their TETRA development in 1996, apha testing on the Island of Jersey in the March of the year. Also being awarded a contract to provide a TETRA radio system for the new airport in Oslo Norway, the airport that would go on to become the main International airport for both the capital city and the country as a whole.

In the most recent decades Motorola have continued to lead the way in terms of radio communications equiptment, with the GP340 being branded as the most popular radio ever made. Although discontinued in 2015 the radio is constantly requested by business buyers as it is still renowned for its quality, although not currently in production there are many newer Motorola models that share traits with the GP340. The Motorola DP1400 is currently one of the market leaders more popular radios, this alongside others such a the DP2400e and the DP4400e.

Although Motorola have long been the dominant force within a small space for communications equptment, companies such as Hytera and Icom are hot on their tails moving into the 21st century with more big things to come from all participants in the market.

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Features For A Safer Workplace

Aswell as being a great form of communication for teams in the workplace, two way radios also house many safety features that could be the difference in saving a workers life. Here we have highlighted a few of those features, whilst some also have instructional videos showing you how they work.

VOX Voice Activation
VOX Voice Activation is a feature that is present on the majority of two way radios. A simple function that allows for hands free communications whilst using your telecommunications device, VOX is ideal for a variety of differing working environments. Some radios come readily equipped with a VOX function meaning that no additional needs to be taken, but should a radio not have it readily programmed accessories can be purchased that are VOX capable, from remote speaker microphones to headsets.

GPS
Global Positioning System otherwise known as GPS is a mechanism that will use a number of satellites in order to locate the position of a radio. Sending a signal back to a base station or repeater, this feature allows for a person to effectively manage their time via the knowledge of the exact location of each member of the team. Working hand in hand with another feature that we will mention, GPS can be useful when used in cooperation with the Man Down function, allowing for the operative to be found should they be in a dangerous position within the work place.

Man Down
A feature that is vital in dangerous working environments is Man Down. Whilst remote monitoring individual workers this feature can detect the orientation of the radio, detecting whether the radio is upright or not this will assume that the radio is on its side and that there is a problem at hand. Automatically detecting the issue, an alert transmission call for help will be activated and sent out to team members. Working similarly to how a smart phone works, whereby it can detect whether you are holding your phone in landscape or portrait mode, a system capable of GPS will also work in connection with this feature allowing for the operative to be found easily.

Lone Worker
Lone Worker is a feature that works in a similar manor to Man Down. Monitoring activity levels should the radio detect that it has been inactive for a pre-set period of time, 30 minutes for example, a sound will be played on the radio. If this sound is not responded to by the operative then an alert will be sent out to the other radios within the fleet, or initially to a base station for the operator to then dispatch someone to the scene of the incident. Lone Worker is often readily installed into many radios at a middle price point, radios such as the DP1400 from Motorola or the PD405 from Hytera.

Transmit Interrupt
Should an important messaged need to be relayed to a team quickly then Transmit Interrupt should be a feature of high priority to both you and your business. Should an immediate danger become apparent, Transmit Interrupt will allow for a high priority transmission to interrupt any ongoing communications between operatives. Transmit Interrupt can also be used for instances non urgent, whereby if a new set of instructions needs to be relayed then this is a great tool to use, allowing for effective and efficient use of workers tine.

Emergency Button
An emergency button is often present on two way communications devices, this is usually an orange colour and placed on the top of the radio. This can be programmed in order to raise and alarm to a base station or other radios within a group, if the devices being used have a display then the screen will showcase the ID of the radio in danger allowing for swift action to be taken. Seen on almost all radios, this is a safety feature that is of utmost importance in almost all working environments. Schools are able to take advantage of it should a disturbance be caused in class, or on a construction site where a person may be injured or urgent assistance is required.

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