Refreshing the fleet
By the start of 2015, the District's radio fleet wasn't providing the performance needed to manage the District's services effectively. The fleet consisted of analog radios from multiple manufacturers.
Not only did the radios need to be replaced due to the Federal Communications Commission's narrowband mandate, they also did not function well in the cold and damp weather of the Bay Area. Rugged and reliable replacements were necessary. To meet this need, Frank Silveira, Electrical/IT Department Supervisor for the District, reached out to their communications partner, Vision Communications of San Leandro. Vision Communications is an elite dealer with more than 20 years of experience in servicing and supplying radio and paging equipment to government agencies, educational institutions, health care facilities, and industry. Cathy Conley, Senior Account Manager with Vision Communications, recommended Hytera digital portable radios. “This was an opportunity to address both the District's existing communications needs and to provide functionality not available on analog radios,” Conley said. “We suggested enhancements such as scanning to an Emergency All Call channel and adding the NOAA Weather channel to their new waterproof Hytera radios.” After a trial period through the winter, Silveira selected the Hytera PD602 digital portable radios as the mainstay of his new fleet.
At just an inch thick and weighing 10 ounces, the PD602 features loud and clear digital audio, emergency broadcast, 48 channels, operating in temperatures from -22° F to 140° F, and 16 hours of battery life. The PD602 is built to the US military specifications for waterproofing, resistance to dust and fog, and withstanding blowing rain. Water-resistant radios are a must in the water treatment business. “Our workers often have to work in and around sewer pipes,” Silveira said, “and workers sometimes drop the radios into the water. Our Hytera radios work even after being under the cold water of the sewage system.”
Radios across most departments
The District’s radio fleet of 2018 consists of 64 PD602 VHF radios and 45 mobile radios in use by 10 different departments. Maintenance crews, Shipping/Receiving, Operations, and Customer Service are the most frequent users. “We were able to issue each of our Customer Service personnel a portable radio, which replaced the desktop models.” To reduce user training time and costs, channel assignments were listed on each radio. The District currently uses 16 of the radio’s 48 channels. Channel 16 is the emergency-only channel that is available to all users. When Vision Communications delivered the radios to the District, they were pre-programmed with the National Weather Service along with the local police and fire channels.
The District has been using Hytera radios for 3 years. The coverage of the PD602 radios has reduced the need for repeaters in areas that used to pose coverage issues. Radio performance in wind, rain, fog, and dampness – even an earthquake in Napa – is without question. “We have had these Hytera radios in service for 3 years, and there have been no issues. As a maintenance professional, I haven’t had to touch a single one.”
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