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BASF plc Case Study: Intrinsically-Safe Atex radio communication

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"The Atex radio features are excellent, if there was an accident or an issue such as a spillage this could be resolved quickly before it escalates."

BASF plc is the leading supplier of polyurethane solutions for systems and specialities, which BASF plc develops, manufactures and supplies to customers in the UK and Ireland from its site in Alfreton, Derbyshire. The site comprises of different manufacturing areas including Atex zones, temporary and permanent, which strictly allow intrinsically safe equipment only. In order to manage his team of 9 people Jon uses a mix of Atex radios and non-intrinsic two way radios to improve the efficiency of his communications.

LIVING WITH ATEX ZONES

Any area on a site which hosts a hazardous and potentially explosive atmosphere must be sign-posted as an Atex zone. This may require particular PPE to be worn and most devices including mobile phone and two-way radios are not permitted for safety reasons. The more controlled and dangerous the area, the more a clear method of communication becomes imperative in case of an accident or emergency.

BASF Plc Site in Alfreton

BASF PLC site in Alfreton - Communications case study

BASF plc Site in Alfreton as shown above

LIFE BEFORE ATEX RADIOS
Jon shared with me his experience of leading a team before the Atex radios were introduced.There were several Atex zones already in place on the BASF site and with a relatively small team they were spread thinly across the site. Without radio communications in the Atex area Jon had to check repeatedly on his staff in order to keep them safe. Jon explains “a 2 minute walk every 10 minutes isn’t ideal. This important requirement of physically checking in on staff members in the Atex zones took time away from other jobs.” The other solution was to have two people working in the zones at any given time to ensure an elevated level of safety but this meant his workforce became even more stretched. In addition, before Atex radios were introduced the control room, often had to communicate using a messanger or shouting across a large area.

RADIOS AS A MANAGEMENT TOOL

Jon manages a team of 9; 8 operators and 1 production foreman. As well as the operators being assigned to their resource tasks there are also additional support tasks split between them. Priorities and goalposts are constantly moved to keep tasks running effectively so multi-tasking and quick communication is key to managing the ever-changing pace of the projects at hand. Speaking to his team using two way radios allows this flow of communications to be maximised where he can easily move his teams onto other jobs leading to an increase in productivity.

Non-intrinsic two way radio in use

Non-intrinsic two way radios in use at BASF Plc at the Alfreton site complimenting the use of Atex radios 

"The radios we use are fantastic with an excellent range up to the borders of the site and even slightly beyond. The licenced radios have cut out the regular interference we used to encounter with our old licence-free radios. We utilise more than one channel allowing maintenance to have their own dedicated group." 

THE CHALLENGE

Safety in the Atex zones is a massive concern for managers like Jon. Jon is very keen on the radio safety features including the lone worker function which is ‘pre-alarmed’ if the worker doesn’t respond to the timed safety radio check.

The Man Down feature is a particularly favourite because of its ability to send an emergency call when the radio turns horizontal (indicating that a worker has fallen) significantly reducing the time taken for a manager to investigate the situation and call for emergency services if needs be. Jon says “These features are excellent, if there was an accident or an issue such as a spillage this could be resolved quickly before it escalates”.

Jon tells me that “virtually everyone who is operational” on site uses some kind of radio. Jon describes the radios he uses on-site as “very clear in particularly noisy areas”. BASF also makes use of our ear pieces and remote speaker mics. These accessories give the workers “flexibility” in terms of the accessories they choose to use to maximise their individual working efficiency.

ATEX RADIO SIMULARITY


Jon tells me one of the things he likes about the Atex radios are how similar they are to other radios while still be easily identified. The trademark blue of the Atex radios eliminates any confusion but otherwise the radios are just as user friendly as normal radios. Jon finds that the radios are not noticeably bulky which is important when you have to carry a radio around with you all day.

Hytera PD715 EX

Hytera Atex Radio PD715 EX

ZYCOMM BESPOKE CONSULTANCY SERVICE


Zycomm are committed to providing the radio solutions to suit each company individually. We conduct complimentary site surveys and radio trials to ensure you get the correct coverage and functionality to suit your requirements. We are very proud of our client base including BASF plc whom we would like to thank for sharing their experience of the Hytera Atex radios with us.

Zycomm would like to thank Jon and the rest of the management team for allowing us to share their experience of radio use on their site and wish them a prosperous year ahead.

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