When working no matter the environment the first concern for an employee and employer will be the safety of not only themselves but also other members of staff. There are many standard safety procedures and regulations that help to keep you safe such as safe passageways, adequate lighting, ventilation and easy access to fire escapes, but something that isn’t required by law such as two-way radios can be almost a necessity in cases of emergency.
No matter the size of the workplace you are operating in should a safety issue arise, contacting other people within the building to let them know of an ongoing situation is the first port of call. A technology that has rapidly grown over the past couple of decades is mobile telephones, although a great device for making contact with friends, in emergency situations wouldn’t be so ideal. When making a call from mobile to mobile the message being delivered depends entirely on the person at the other end of the line answering their device, and even when they answer their phone there is still the possibility of call latency of up to 1 second, which although doesn’t sound like much, could be massive in emergency situations.
As mentioned mobile phones may seem that they are capable of providing instantaneous communications, but it is almost certain that they can’t due to the previously mentioned factors. This is where two-way radios come in to play. A simple explanation would be that when pressed, the PTT (Push to Talk) button on the side of your two-way radio will allow you to talk to other radios within a tenth of a second, meaning that a radio is ten times quicker than a mobile without taking into account the time taken to call the contact in the first place.
The previous paragraph features a basic explanation, but this can be expanded on ten-fold. Each radio can be programmed to have multiple channels; these can be designated to different areas of your business to ensure that the office based team aren’t crossing communications with the warehouse staff for example. The ability to divide your departments to their own zones or channels means that should a specific area of your business have an issue, then they aren’t having to fight with other people in order to send their transmission due to the channel being locked.
Site wide channels can be added for less urgent communications, but a listen only channel can be programmed to ensure that should a situation of high risk or priority arise then everyone within the work environment can be notified instantly. Similarly, a feature that almost all two-way radios have is the option to add an emergency button. When activated an alert will be sent to all radios within your network, this notifying them that a member of staff may have a security or safety issue that needs to be resolved quickly.
The price of a good communications system is nothing compared to the safety of staff, but if price is a sticking point then there are many different options available to help you get the most out of your system. This section of the blog post will separate different radios over 3 price points, ranging from an affordable entry level device all the way through to advanced GPS capable models.
£ – Entry Level
From Motorola there is the DP1400 which is a rugged, reliable and simple to use radio that can be found in a variety of working environments but most commonly is seen on construction sites or within warehouses. This device is the successor to the most popular two-way radio every produced, the Motorola GP340. The DP1400 has followed in the footsteps of its predecessor and taken up the mantle as the most frequently purchased Motorola radio. You would be forgiven for thinking that the DP1400 and the GP340 are in fact the same radio, but with the optional upgrade of digital signalling this allows for additional transmitting options such as individual, private and group calling.
The PD705LT is a sleek device available from Hytera, this radio is one of the Chinese manufacturers most popular products whilst also being the top selling radio by Radiotronics in 2019. Unlike the previously mentioned DP1400, the PD705LT comes with digital signalling as standard, this ensuring that crystal clear communications are a guarantee when using the Hytera radio. A major draw to the PD705LT is its Bluetooth capabilities. An external adapter accessory can be purchased to connect wireless accessories, this an ideal solution where your radio and an earpiece is needed to be used in a formal environment.
Finally, from Kenwood is the NX-1300, this is the UHF equivalent of the NX-1200 VHF radio. These two radios have only recently been released, put in to production in order to replace the soon to be discontinued TK-D340 and TK-D240. Both identical radios, the NX-1300/NX-1200 have a sleek design whilst being packed with features such as Lone Worker, Channel Scanning and an Emergency Call Function. These radio have an extremely modest price for the device that you are getting, making it ideal for companies with a lower budget.
££ – Middle Of The Road
Starting out with Motorola again for our middle of the road radios. The DP4400e is a tough, battle ready radio that can be used in even the harshest of environmental conditions. With an IP68 protection rating this means that the DP4400e can be fully submersed in water, ensuring that should it be dropped into a body of water or left out in the rain it will still be operational once it has been retrieved. Coming as standard with digital signalling, unlike the entry level DP1400, this ensures that communications are consistent whilst also crystal clear.
From Hytera the option that we would recommend if you’re looking at a middle ground two-way radio is the PD705. This is the bigger brother of the PD705LT, the more compact version of this radio. But you may be asking, what extra features do I receive if I choose this model over the LT? The PD705 has an IP67 protection rating meaning that similarly to the DP4400e it is fully submersible in water. Alongside this the normal 705 also has the option to add various license keys for things such as digital encryption and trunking for both MPT1327 and DMR Tier III whilst also being capable of Man Down functionality.
Our final middle range radio is the Kenwood NX3300E3, to keep things fair we’ve used the E3 model as this is a black box design, just like the DP4400e from Motorola and PD705 from Hytera. Yet another radio with an IP67 protection rating, the NX3300E3 also benefits from an amass of features that come both pre-programmed and additional extras. Bluetooth allows for wireless accessories to be used with this radio, whilst GPS capabilities mean that the NX3300E3 can be tracked to its exact location when used in collaboration with dispatch software. Lone Worker comes as standard with the radio monitoring the activity levels of the radio, where Man Down is an additional extra.
£££ – Top Of The Class
The final Motorola radio that I will be talking about is the Motorola DP4801e. This radio has every feature and additional extras that you could possibly need from a communications device, although this is reflected in the price. The first model on this list that has both a full keypad and display, the DP4801e is an ideal radio for managers who may need access to private calls with workers using the same or different radios. A high IP rating of IP68, Bluetooth, GPS, Voice Activation and many more additional features makes the DP4801e one of the most advanced models on the market.
The 1024 channel PD785 from Hytera is their entry into the top level of radios. With the optional paid upgrade to a GPS and Man Down version of the radio, the PD785 comes in at a similar price point to the DP4801e from Motorola. A device that wouldn’t look out of place even in customer facing workplaces, the PD785 also has a full key pad and full colour display making it easy to access menus and options, whilst also having the ability to send both pre-programmed and custom text messages to other radios. Although the radio looks sleek and stylish this doesn’t take away from its durability, with an IP68 protection rating and being built to military standards, this ensures its continuous operation in even the harshest of conditions.
In the middle class we mentioned Kenwoods NX3300E3, but one thing we didn’t say was the fact that there was two additional versions of the radio. The E2 features a partial keypad and full display, whilst the radio that we will be focusing on is the NX3300E that has a full keypad alongside a full display. The display on the NX3300E is an LCD in comparison to the full colour of the PD785, although this is the only part that really differs between the two radios. A more regimented black box styling, this radio not only looks tough but is built tough too with an IP67 Ingres Protection rating.
*Pricing levels accurate as of 31/01/2020
Although it might seem like the best option is always the most expensive due to the amount of features they have, the most important thing to ask yourself is… do I really need to that? A common conversation that the sales staff at Radiotronics have with customers is them requesting features fit for dangerous working environments, in environments that aren’t actually that dangerous.
As an example, more often than not a customer will inquire about having Man Down added to their radios. Man Down is a feature that monitors the orientation of the radio, should the radio in question be laid on its side for a pre-set period of time, 30 seconds let’s say, then an alert will sound on the radio. If this alert is not answered, then an alarm of highest priority will be sent to other radios in the network or a base station. If dispatch software is used within your system and your radios have GPS capabilities, the location of the downed man will be shown on the map allowing for fast response to the workers’ location.
Although this does seem like a handy thing to have programmed into your radio it is only a necessity where there is a risk of death in the workplace. So we would definitely recommend this feature for use on construction sites or power stations and such, but businesses located on small sites or within schools we would advise to save the additional money you would spend on this upgrade and put it to use elsewhere.
As previously mentioned Radiotronics would always recommend only buying what you definitely require for your environment. Should within your workplace you require GPS capable radios, it may not be necessary for everyone to have the fancy models with a screen and full keypad. The solution for this that Radiotronics have implemented many times involves radios that have been mentioned in both the “Middle of The Road” and “Top of The Class” sections of this blog.
The working environment that I will use as an example for this is a warehouse facility.
Within a warehouse there will be many different levels of staff, from floor workers to supervisors and office staff. A communications system for a large operation could consist of anywhere from 15 to 150 radios, and with the heavy machinery and high racking there is also the risk of injury or in severe cases death should something go wrong. Although a Motorola DP1400 for example would suffice in such an environment, we would always recommend radios that have GPS capabilities in a large building such as a warehouse.
For distribution of radios a member of floor staff wouldn’t necessarily require a radio that has the full screen and keypad, this because in general they will not be required to make individual calls or need to send text messages to other members of staff. The middle of the road radios allows for the user to receive crystal clear communications through standard channels whilst being rugged and reliable, ensuring that should they accidentally be dropped then little to no damage will be sustained. With the warehouse workers making up the majority of the staff, using these radios would help to keep costs down where they don’t necessarily need to be using the high end radios.
For members of staff who may need to relay new instructions or contact other members of staff directly it would be recommended that they use radios from our “Top of The Class” picks. With these radios only being given to a select few members of staff, this would help keep the costs lower on your system. A supervisor for example would be able to contact members of their team either as a group or as an individual. With the normal programmed channels being split into zones, these may be used by all members of floor staff rather than one specific team. With group calling this will allow for a supervisor or manager to navigate the menus of their radio to find the group with just their team members included, this meaning that instructions aren’t being listened in to by everyone and just the people that need to hear it. Similarly, individual calls can be made should you need to speak to someone privately without having to disturb other members of staff.
Within this blog I have spoken about a lot of different aspects that you need to take into account when purchasing two-way radios. Should you want to learn anything more about two-way radios before making a purchase Radiotronics have produced a large amount of literature whether it be here on our blog or on the informational pages of our website. If you think you’ve made a decision on a radio or would like some extra advice then you could always make a call to our sales team, our trained staff will be able to talk through with you what the best option for you would be on the number below.