Two-way radios are an essential part of oil rig and oil field operations. In fact, there are typically a number of job positions that require 2-way radios due to the need for quick responses and real-time coordination essential in this high-risk environment.
For offshore oil rigs, the Offshore Installation Manager (OIM), who is the ultimate authority in the oil platform, is equipped with a portable radio so he can be in constant communication with the rest of the crew who relies on his experience and expertise to make critical decisions on operational matters. A 2-way radio provides the quickest communication available in situations where seconds can make the difference.
Other than the OIM, there are other personnel that need to be equipped with a 2-way such as the Shooter, sometimes called Blaster, who is responsible for ensuring safe and efficient use of explosives in an oil field. An Operations Team Leader (OTL) uses a 2-way radio too to keep in touch with logistics personnel such as helicopter pilots (for offshore oil platforms) and crane operators when coordinating loading and unloading of cargo or even personnel. Being an OTL also means being responsible for the entire crew. He calls the shots on the field and needs to be constantly in touch with the OIM via radio.
Given the harsh environment of oil rigs and oil fields, the 2-way radios used need to be more durable than regular radios. Water is a constant in oil rigs and oil fields either from rain or wet salty ocean air. Choosing a radio that is either submersible or one that meets military specification standards is critical.
Military Specification Standards
In an effort to achieve standardization objectives for purchases of products used by the military and other government organizations, the U.S. Department of Defense created standards that these products must meet. You will see these standards called military standard, "MIL-STD", or "MIL-SPEC." These standards ensure products meet certain requirements, commonality, reliability, compatibility, and similar defense-related objectives.
The Department of Defense developed mil-spec standards for two-way radios that meet levels for such criteria as vibration, rain, salt air, sand/dust, shock (dropping), humidity, temperature as well as other factors. Buying a radio that meets mil-spec standards means you are buying a quality product that is built to withstand tougher use.
You may also see radios with an "IP" designation. IP stands for Ingress Protection and it is an international standard that specifies the sealing effectiveness of the enclosure of a product. It is a two digit code that tell you how effective the enclosure is to penetration from fingers, dust, and moisture.
For instance, for a radio that meets IP 55, the first 5 means it is protected from the amount of dust that would interfere with its operation. The second 5 means that it is protected from water that shoots from a nozzle. A radio that meets the IP57 ingress protection standard for instance can be submersed in water at a depth of 3 feet for up to 30 minutes and it will not harm the radio.
Either IP or Mil-Spec radios should be sufficient for oil rigs and oil fields use.
Audio Accessories Most two way radios have a jack for an audio accessory like a headset or speaker microphone, and in the loud environment of an oil rig or oil field these are often quite necessary. Also, when headsets are used with VOX capability the user can talk with hands-free operation.
There are a variety of audio accessories available for two-way radios depending on your application. If you want to wear your radio on your belt, but do not want to be constantly taking it off to talk, then a speaker microphone with a clip that lets you mount it near your ear may be what you want. Having the speaker near your ear is great for noisy environments. You see police officers using these. Of course their shirts or jackets have a special place to clip the speaker mic on their shoulder and these speaker microphones may get in the way on an oil rig unless the cord is routed inside clothing.
If you would rather be more like the Secret Service than the police, you can get a security type earpiece with a pendant push-to-talk switch with built-in microphone and clip. You put the earphone in your ear and clip the microphone/switch to your clothes not too far from your mouth and then you just push the switch when you want to talk.
If you don't want to have the curly cord leading up to the earpiece, you can get a headset that has an earbud that looks more like what you would find on an iPod, or iPhone,. It still has a pendant push-to-talk switch with built-in microphone and clip.
You can also get a single-ear lightweight behind-the-head headset with boom microphone and pendant push-to-talk switch. This is more like what you would see a telephone call center agent wear. This one is great for noisy environments and is comfortable enough to wear for long periods.
Stationary Two-Way Radios
Sometimes there will be a need for two-way communications, but a handheld two way radio is not the right solution. The application may need a radio that sits on a table top or is mounted on a wall. That's where a wireless call box or a base station intercom that communicates with handheld two way radios is needed.
A base station intercom is simply a two way radio that is in a form that sits permanently on a desk or mounts on a wall. It has much of the same functionality as a handheld two-way radio, but it is not portable. This can be a good thing if a user cannot carry a radio for some reason, you constantly have radios go missing, or if the person needing the radio is always in the same location. You can simply mount or place these base stations wherever you need them.
A wireless call box is like a base station intercom but it is only wall mounted and usually more durable since it is vandal and weatherproof. The callbox is a box made of metal or fiberglass that contains electronic circuitry that enables someone to press a button and call for assistance from someone on a two-way radio, base station intercom, or even another callbox.
The range of these units is several miles, which can be extended by adding an external antenna. Some units can use radio repeaters to extend this range even more.
If you have existing two-way business radios, you'll want a system that can integrate with them. Some callboxes can be programmed to be compatible with virtually any brand of VHF or UHF business band radio.
One problem you may have in placing a call box is the lack of available power. In that case you'll want to choose a system that lets you use either battery or AC power. You can also get units that have optional solar power so that they can run for several days on a single day of sunshine.
If you need to remotely control door locks or turn on lights from your portable 2-way radio or desktop base station intercom, then select a unit that has a built-in remote control relay. With this ability you can let someone in a gate or door when they call you. There are units that also let you turn on a strobe light at the callbox location to help draw attention to it.
Another useful feature is the ability for call boxes to store a voice message that is played when someone presses its button. This could be a message that gives the caller specific instructions on what to do. These units can also send a second and different voice message alert to the monitoring central location or portable radios. This message could give the callboxes location or it could be an emergency message of some type.
If you have several callboxes in use and you need to know the location of the unit calling in, then you can get a call box that transmits a unique numeric identifier to a radio that has the ability to decode this identifier. This is like having a telephone with Caller ID capability.
By adding a motion detector or some other detection device, you can be alerted when that detection device is activated. Some callboxes will send either a tone alert or a custom voice alert when the detection sensor status changes. If this voice message is not immediately answered, the alert message is resent multiple times.
These callboxes also let you listen to what's happening around the call box using a monitor feature.
For assistance in choosing an oil rig two-way radio , contact www.IntercomsOnline.com for more information.
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