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Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre goes digital for enhanced communications.

the challenge

The AECC had been using a four-channel analogue repeater system with a variety of portable radios but there were a number of concerns, mostly notably the lack of radio coverage across the venue. One of the reasons for this was that the repeaters and omni-directional antennas had been installed on top of a high viewing tower. They were also using radios operating in the VHF band which is not ideal for use in a building such as the AECC, where the internal walls are constructed mainly of aluminium cladding. With a need to provide the best possible service at the centre, AECC decided to upgrade its entire communications system and subsequently chose MOTOTRBO.

“Both parties spent time looking at how they actually work and there was considerable forward planning done before it was handed over to the engineers for programming,” said Mark Allan, managing director at North East Telecommunications, the Motorola partner responsible for the network design and installation. It also helped that the client had a clear vision of how they wanted to work. For example, they had to identify the specific work groups and operating zones and how personnel would be able to switch between groups depending on where they were working on any given day. “This is simple with MOTOTRBO as it can be easily configured to accommodate specific requirements,” added Allan.

the solution

AECC’s MOTOTRBO solution comprises 72 DP 3600 portable radios and four DR 3000 repeaters operating in the UHF band with a single down-fire antenna. The foresight to include the intelligent software solution, Capacity Plus means the venue now has increased system capacity to link hundreds of additional MOTOTRBO radio users should they be required for special events. The system configuration includes an all-call option, per-group option and also various sub-groups which can be easily navigated via the radio menu. The radio PTT buttons have been assigned to work in a manner that suits individual groups or sub groups, thus avoiding all radios automatically receiving general broadcasts. This means that when the PTT is pressed from an individual radio, only specific members of the group receive that call. The teams are also using MOTOTRBO’s text messaging capability which allows for an alternative means of communicating when ambient noise levels increase to a point where it becomes difficult to hear clearly or when sensitive information needs to be sent. And to help with operational efficiency, the AECC is using Motorola Solutions’ IMPRES smart battery technology which is delivering up to 12 hours of battery life. This was a major issue with the old system as it involved regularly swapping out batteries, causing unnecessary disruptions.

the benefit

The implementation of the MOTOTRBO system has seen radio coverage and audio clarity improve dramatically which has had a major impact on AECC’s operations and bolstered efficiency overall. In fact, there’s not a single area within the arena that’s without radio coverage. Teams have also found that the overall usability of their radio network has improved significantly through the ability to make individual one-to-one private calls and calls to specific groups, which have cut down on radio traffic. With the inclusion of Capacity Plus, the system can cater for extensive talk time even during the busiest periods. Adding temporary radios to the system – usually required by sub-contractors for larger events - is a simple task and the system equipment rack has been designed to accommodate four additional channels should they be needed in the future. The AECC is also aware of the added data functionality that MOTOTRBO provides and the use of third party applications and will be investigating this in the near future.

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