Red Dog Radios to the Rescue at a Quarry

The Problem:  Dead Spots and Poor Reception in Critical Areas

A cement plant and quarry came to Red Dog Radios with a problem: their radio communications didn’t cover critical areas of operations.  The quarry manager explained that although they had an on-site repeater, their radios couldn’t communicate with each other, even when users were within line-of-sight.  The company had three repeaters installed atop a silo at the main cement plant.  The repeater assigned to the “Quarry” was intended to provide coverage for the quarry over 5 miles away.  Surface vehicles at the quarry had reasonable performance from the repeater, but portable radios were marginal.  Worst of all, the 300-foot-deep quarry where actual excavation takes place had no coverage whatsoever. 

New Radios, or Realign Infrastructure?

The quarry manager was told by his existing radio dealer that moving from analog to digital radios would be necessary to solve the problem at an estimated cost of  $80,000.  When the manager came to Red Dog Radios for a second opinion, a site survey showed that the problem was antenna coverage, and that replacing analog radios with digital would not solve their problem.  While digital radios do have longer range than narrowband analog radios, digital radios also require good line-of-site transmission.  In this case, line-of-site was obstructed by outbuildings and completely impossible in the quarry pit. Furthermore, in noisy environments, voice quality in analog radios is superior to digital radios. Red Dog Radios recommended that the best solution would be to keep the analog radios, but reconfigure the antenna and repeater placement.

Red Dog Radios moved the “Quarry” repeater from the cement plant over to the actual quarry operation area.  The quarry manager suggested relocating the repeater to the top of the 75-foot crusher shed, where the large CAT 777 dump trucks back in to empty their enormous loads of mined limestone.  Once the antenna was relocated to the top of the crusher shed and the repeater moved to a secured electrical machinery building, radio communications improved dramatically at the quarry.  Communications between heavy equipment operators, their supervisors, and plant operations are now “loud and clear”. 

The Challenge of the Pit

The “High Cal Pit” is an enormous open pit, 300-feet deep, with a bottom area larger than two football fields.  Because the pit is so far below grade, radio coverage from the repeater, even when relocated to the crusher shed at the quarry, was still unacceptable within the pit operations area.  This presented a safety issue, as employees in the pit could not communicate between each other or their supervisors outside of the pit area.

Red Dog Radios designed a “passive repeater” as a solution, involving two strategically placed bidirectional Yagi antennas.

“Amazing Results”

The results were amazing.  Before, a 45 watt radio in a vehicle at the bottom of the pit had no radio communications.  With the passive repeater installed, now, a 4-watt handheld radio at the bottom of the pit can clearly communicate with other personnel via the repeater, “loud and clear”.  Now the cement plant and its adjacent quarry have reliable and clear communications throughout the entire facility, even in the toughest-to-reach areas that were “radio dead”.

Our Systems Planning Saves You $$

This cement quarry is a perfect example of how system design expertise solves real problems and saves money.

Have a challenging environment?  Don’t automatically accept the “digital beats analog” buzz.  A solid system design solved this problem at a fraction of the price of going all-digital, and digital would not have solved “the Challenge of the Pit”. 

Red Dog Radios was started by a radio engineer who has designed systems for billion-dollar telecommunications companies.  Our stellar reputation was established by solving challenging radio communications problems in the Colorado Rockies.

Let us go to work for you!