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Last updateThu, 14 Mar 2019 4pm

Firms urged to check two way radio coverage on site

Construction firms are being advised to keep tabs on how their two way radios perform on site as a build progresses.

The majority of construction companies rely on two way radio to help coordinate work and maintain safety and security. But according to two way radio vendor Brentwood Communications, the closer a project gets to completion, the more likely it is that personnel may start to experience difficulties with poor signal and calls not getting through.

A spokesperson for Brentwood said: “It’s a problem caused by the types of material that are favoured in construction nowadays. When a build starts, construction sites tend to be wide open places that are ideal for radio signals to transmit freely.

But as a build progresses, more and more obstacles are put in the way. When you are using large quantities of very dense, hard material like steel, you can start to see a deterioration in call quality as two way radio handsets struggle to pick up signals clearly.”

Brentwood advises that considering how a build might affect two way radio use is not just a matter of ensuring the project can be completed smoothly, but also thinking about how it will affect future owners and tenants.

“In commercial premises, retail parks, schools, hospitals and many other types of large public building, two way radio is commonly used by security personnel and facilities management operators,” the spokesperson said. “Following a rebuild or renovation project, you might find that your client experiences problems with their existing two way radio once the project is completed.

We recently supplied a new fleet of two way radios to a school in Basildon which had undergone a £26 million rebuild. The new building won awards, but school staff and management found the radios they were using were no longer fit for purpose because the steel frame was hampering signals.”

Planning ahead

Brentwood says that potential issues with two way radio coverage can be spotted in the planning stage once design and materials are finalised. 

“The key is choosing flexible two way radio options which have the capability to handle the added obstructions,” said Brentwood’s spokesperson. “One option is to upgrade from analogue to digital two way radio, which gives you more power and extra signal range.

But lots of construction firms are happy with analogue models, especially with cost considerations in mind. Models like the Kenwood TK2000 are popular in the construction industry because they represent good value, they are lightweight yet durable, and they offer excellent audio quality.

One thing to do is to opt for dual UHF/VHF handsets. VHF performs well in wide open spaces, so is a good option on a construction site in the early stages of a build. But the longer wavelengths struggle once they have to bounce around obstacles, and this is when many problems start to occur. Being able to switch to UHF counters this.”

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