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Reliable radio communication at Chemelot

On a chemical site where safety is paramount, a reliable communication system is essential. However, it’s not enough that accessibility and audibility always be good in every location – it must also be possible to use the user equipment in explosive environments. Sitech Services provides radio communication at all the plants on the Chemelot site and for our own emergency services. Project Manager Don van Sonsbeek and Rob Engelen, the system’s administrator, explain the importance of a reliable communication network and the latest ATEX walkie-talkies and headsets.

Full coverage network
In 2013, a completely new communication network was installed on the Chemelot site in Geleen. “This was a massive operation,” explains Rob Engelen. “Back then we completely replaced the infrastructure, including installing seven of our own network masts on site. In the past we still had communication blind spots, but from then on every plant could be reached from at least two masts. This ensured that we always have double coverage.”

Audibility
“The network that was built seven years ago still operates perfectly,” explains Don van Sonsbeek. “Last summer we did, however, look into a logical successor for the current walkie-talkies and headsets. By now, many plants have switched and we have re-implemented over 1,000 headsets and about 600 walkie-talkies.”

“Audibility in particular has once again improved with the new equipment,” adds Rob. “The new headsets provide protection against the noise inside the plant, but they also contain built-in microphones and speakers that are connected to the walkie-talkies. If, for example, you are standing next to a noisy installation, you will still be perfectly audible in the control room.”

Flexible
The Chemelot site includes over 50 plants that all use the same TETRA system and ATEX walkie-talkies from Motorola. Around 600 walkie-talkies communicate the state of affairs in the plant on a daily basis. “During turnarounds that number increases significantly,” says Don. “Another major and key advantage of this network is its flexibility. During a turnaround we can easily scale up and add another 500 walkie-talkies. And even then the huge network is in top condition. That guaranteed communication is important to ensure that our customers can operate as efficiently and safely as possible.”

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