Reliable and robust radios

Issue 5 2021 Agriculture (Industry)

Kenwood NEXEDGE digital radio systems provide a reliable, convenient and effective means of communication in many industries and applications as they allow cost-effective, instant and simultaneous communication with individuals and groups of people.

The Kenwood range of two-way radios is characterised by its durability, ruggedness and longevity. These characteristics led to Global Communications taking the unprecedented decision to offer a five-year warranty on specified models last year.

“During the rigorous tests undertaken on the radios during the developmental process, they are dropped, soaked, splashed and subjected to extreme temperatures to ensure their readiness for prolonged use in the harsh environmental conditions typical within the mining sector. In addition, the test team repeatedly expose them to the same conditions they would experience when their push buttons are operated tens of thousands of times over their normal lifetime,” says Sean Mervitz, sales manager at Global Communications (an Elvey Group company and part of the Hudaco Group of companies).

There are four pillars that underpin the reliability and robustness of these particular Kenwood radio models based on the MIL-STD-810C/D/E/F and G specifications and IP54/55/67 and 68 environmental standards.

Environmental considerations

1. Exposure to extreme temperatures.

2. Dust and water resistance.

Longevity indicators:

1. Mean time between failures (MTBF).

2. Push-to-talk (PTT) activations.

Extreme temperatures

The Received Signal Strength Indication (RSSI) is a direct indication of signal performance, but it is negatively affected by extremes in temperature. Since many locations, including construction sites and mines are located in remote, extremely hot and humid areas, this can pose a major problem for effective, uninterrupted communication. A receiver is rated for a certain sensitivity and if thermal noise exceeds it, you will have a reduction in signal-noise ratio as thermal noise contributes to the overall noise floor.

The specific radios in the Kenwood range have been subjected to arduous temperature conditions, proving their successful and reliable operation at temperatures as low as -30°C and up to temperatures as high +60°C. “The radios have been deployed on a number of large South African mines and in other remote locations. Given the fact that the repeaters are also placed in a metal housing, which naturally increases the ambient temperature, it’s very heartening that we have not had one failure to date,” says Mervitz.

Dust and water

A number of environments, including those in the mining, tunnelling, quarrying and construction sectors, as well as defence forces and game reserves, need equipment that can withstand extreme temperature, dust, noise, moisture and toxic exposure. “Two-way radio systems help operators to achieve greater efficiencies and enable robust safety protocols through instant, fail-safe communications in voice and data – monitoring and managing the information and resources vital in the event of an accident or major incident,” says Mervitz.

Mining and construction are particularly dirty activities that produce large amounts of dust and to a lesser extent, ambient moisture. “Contributors to the dust issues include the extensive dust-laden blasting to detach the ore from the mine body; large mine or construction vehicles travelling around on a site and loading and offloading raw materials. Add to this the fact that mine property landscapes are generally large, open areas where unimpeded wind blows dust everywhere,” says Mervitz.

In addition to the dust, drilling in confined underground mining spaces releases trapped moisture from the rocks, which results in a damp and humid environment. Together, all these factors are a challenge for electronic equipment, including communications equipment like two-way radios. Kenwood radio equipment with the IP54/55/67 and 68 rating, is 100% protected against solid objects like dust and sand and it has been tested to work for up to two hours while submerged in water up to a depth of one metre.

Mean time between failure

Mean time between failure (MTBF) measures how reliable and safe a product is and is typically given in units of hours; so the higher the MTBF, the more reliable the product is. The selected two-way radios in the Kenwood NX1000 range have demonstrated a very commendable MTBF of up to 40 000 hours. This makes them ideal for use in remote areas, where access to maintenance may be limited.

It is critical for management to retain uninterrupted two-way communication with on-site workers, making the deployment of two-way radios a cost-effective and reliable alternative to other communication modalities.


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