Fern Communications Ltd, a leading provider of two-way radio communications systems, announced that its FRX-1 Portable Radio Repeater dramatically enhanced radio communications for personnel responsible for carrying out inspections in underground sewage and water systems in Romania.
Radio Signal Uninterrupted in Underground Tunnels
During recent trials carried out for CSR on behalf of water and wastewater management company Apa Nova in central Bucharest, the FRX-1 Radio Repeater was placed in strategic locations where the radio signal is normally disrupted, causing a breakdown in radio communications between personnel tasked with inspecting and surveying the conditions of the tunnels and sewage pipelines. These points are known as “black spots” that typically cause radio signals to break down. However, with the FRX-1 in place, radio coverage is greatly improved because it eliminates these radio “black spots.
The trial took place in one of the many tunnels located 150 feet under the city streets of the University District. Normally, Apa Nova personnel working in this tunnel lose the radio signal completely not long after entering the tunnel. However, with the FRX-1 in operation, they maintained radio signal and communication with co-workers located above ground 500 meters away. This was the first time they had experienced this level of radio communication.
“That Apa Nova inspectors were able to maintain radio contact while in the tunnel – and from that distance – was a first. It was very impressive,” said Raluca Niculae, Economist and Project Manager for Centrul pentru Servicii de Radiocomunicatii (CSR). “For Apa Nova, this trial demonstrated that maintaining quality communications with personnel who are carrying out critical inspection of the sewage network and tunnels is possible. The FRX-1 technology proved that to them,” she added.
First purchase of FRX-1 in Romania
So impressed was Apa Nova with the improvement in radio communications that the company has purchased the FRX-1 as a standard component of its radio communications kit for personnel working underground. The purchase represents the first time that the system has been adopted for use in Romania. As a result of CSR’s promotional efforts, the FRX-1 is being greeted with enthusiasm in Romania. Currently, a major oil and gas operator in Romania is in discussions with CSR about conducting a series of field trials with the FRX-1 in the tunnels of the Carpathian Mountains and on oil rigs in the Black Sea.
Solid performance around the world
The field trial carried out in Romania is the latest in a series of successful trials that have taken place with the FRX-1 and its sister system, the FRW-1. During recent years, Fern’s radio repeaters have been successfully trialled and purchased by fire services organisations in Taiwan, the UK and Norway. They are also being used by energy services industry. For example, oil services companies have made them available to workers offshore in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Qatar, among others. Workers use them during planned shutdowns of power stations in the UK, and in refineries throughout Norway.
About Fern Communications’ Radio Repeaters
The FRW-1 and the FRX-1 fill a gap in the market for a system that provides consistent, uninterrupted radio communication. Since their debut in 2007, the systems have been received with enthusiasm by the emergency services sectors in the United Kingdom and Norway, and by the global energy industry.
Reliable radio communications are critical for safe and efficient well services, especially offshore. Unfortunately, standard radio systems are extremely vulnerable to ‘black spots.’ Typically, these are solid structures that make up the platform and block radio signals, making it impossible for the targeted receiving radio to receive the signal. The upshot is that radio communications consistently break down in certain areas. The FRX-1 was developed in response to customer demand for a system that would address this issue. In an effort to provide a solution, Fern Communications began developing the FRX-1 radio repeater in 2006. The system was put through a series of rigorous field tests in a variety of underground sites and rig simulator training centres in Norwich, England and Aberdeen.
Today’s FRX-1 is the only system of its kind that effectively bends the radio signal around a solid structure so that it reaches its target destination: the receiving radio located on the other side of the structure. To ensure that the FRX-1 may be used in a broad range of environments, the system is approved for use by the European Union in hazardous Zones 1 and 2, gas group 11C and temperature-rated to T5, all in accordance with ATEX Directive 94/9/EC, the set of rigorous standards aimed at preventing explosions, and protecting people in the event of an explosion.