Leversedge Telecom provides Icom IP and digital technology to British Gypsum's mines
Written by: Laurence Doe | Published:

Leversedge Telecom, a two-way radio provider, has provided an Icom digital handsets and a repeater in addition to an Icom IP Advanced Radio system for British Gypsum – a large manufacturer of plaster, plasterboard and ceiling solutions. The company is now providing the Icom IP technology to British Gypsum’s five other mines throughout the UK.

The system utilises a network controller and fifty IP100H remote communicators and handsets that provide secure conversation and follow health and safety objectives. British Gypsum also purchased a rugged digital radio solution, which included an IC-FR6100 deployable repeater housed in a peli case to bridge the communication technologies and IC-F4102D Digital UHF hand portables.

Leversedge visited British Gypsum after an enquiry from the East Leake mine in Leicestershire, which has a mining capacity of 500,000 tonnes per annum. This led to a trial of Icom’s IP radio system using the mine's existing WLAN network. It was found that the system could provide eight kilometers of tunnels with 100 per cent coverage and the site now uses a full IP radio system that operates on the mines current wireless LAN (WLAN).

The rollout has replaced a previous analogue system, with the deployment utilising the existing fibre optic network and Wi-Fi access points installed within the mine.

“We had a wide area to cover and needed to maintain communication coverage with all employees for operational and health and safety reasons,” said Simon Mills, a mines planning engineer at British Gypsum. “With people driving vehicles underground, it’s really important that clear, regular and audible communication takes place.

“Suitable updates were no longer being provided for our existing system, and we could not support it. We flagged the issue as a potential future risk to the safety of our people – our primary concern. The options were to either replace it with a full radio system with repeaters and leaky feeders with large capital outlay or try something new that could bolt onto a system that we already had in place.

“We initially looked at analogue and digital radio systems which would give us two channels but this new system gave us several advantages such as the multiple simultaneous calls, which were a major advantage. The ability to track people was a major consideration because we have a duty under health and safety law to have good communications in the event of an emergency.

“The idea is that everyone has to have a radio. The radios are used by all those who enter the mine including miners, contractors and are used to keep the mine operators safely in its day to day operations.

“Battery life is brilliant and the handsets are robust. The clarity of the call is first class, especially over the distance that it covers underground,” concluded Mills.

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