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April 3, 2020

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Lone working

Severn Trent Water streamlines communication and critical alert processes with dedicated digital radio platform

Water authority sought to resolve communication challenges, health and safety risks for lone workers caused by poor mobile coverage across its sites and efficient management of critical site alarms.

water treatment

UK water authority, Severn Trent, which is responsible for water supply management, as well as waste water treatment and disposal for the Midlands, is improving safety for its lone workers by deploying a Dedicated Radio Platform solution from ANT Telecom.

Severn Trent and ANT Telecom have a long standing relationship which began in 1995 when ANT Telecom deployed a radio paging based system for Severn Trent’s Trimpley treatment site. The relationship has advanced over the years, to include the development and maintenance of an integrated lone worker solution for many of Severn Trent sites. With Severn Trent operating at a number of locations with intermittent mobile coverage, the company turned to ANT once more, to deploy a more advanced communication solution to improve efficiency and safety at its sites.

Vicky Del Busso, Contracts Manager, Severn Trent, comments: “We have a number of workers at our sites that operate underground in basements, draw off tunnels and pipe galleries – environments that can pose a risk to staff. Moreover as some of these employees are also working alone they can often be the only person on site and so ensuring their safety is absolutely paramount.”

The lack of mobile coverage across some of Severn Trent’s clean water, water production and sewage sites presented several challenges. The first and most important being the health and safety aspect, as there was no way of reporting an emergency incident, which was particularly concerning for lone workers operating on site. Secondly, operators were unable to communicate with colleagues whilst working in those areas, and crucially couldn’t respond to critical alerts flagged up by their SCADA alarm management solution as there was no way to get these messages to the operators who needed to respond to them due to the poor mobile coverage.

Furthermore, since plant access is heavily restricted and many sites run by a single or a small number of operators, suppliers would often be unable to gain entry to the site until operators returned back to the control room causing significant site inefficiencies as well as additional re-delivery costs, when suppliers were left waiting at the access gate.

ANT Telecom recommended upgrading to a dedicated digital radio platform combined with repeaters, transceivers and digital lone worker radios. After understanding the key problem for Severn Trent sites was a lack of WIFI and mobile coverage, this was the best solution in terms of synthesising with its current infrastructure.

The radio systems have been implemented across a number of Severn Trent’s sites since 2018, rising to fifteen sites in total, come the start of 2020. The radio solution provides site wide radio coverage enabling operators to communicate between themselves and the control centre whilst workers carry out tasks in all areas of the site.

For even greater levels of site and environmental protection, the ANT’s Critical Alarm Management solution provides integration with Severn Trent’s SCADA alarm system – meaning that operators receive critical alarms irrespective of where they are on-site. Therefore, if any pumps or critical assets fail, the system will immediately alert the operators directly on their radio handsets so that they are aware of any issues. This allows for incidents to be dealt with efficiently – critical when you consider that a leak into the local river system could cost millions in fines and lots of bad PR, if it is not responded to correctly and efficiently.

If operators have an accident when working alone, they can alert colleagues by radioing for help or pressing their panic button on their radio. If an incident occurs and they’re rendered unconscious, colleagues are automatically alerted when the radio’s tilt sensor is activated to ensure that help arrives as quickly as possible. GPS location enables the response team to locate the operator without the need to search any large areas.

Additionally, the radio solution has a mechanism to integrate with Severn Trent’s gate access control system, so operators can speak with suppliers or those wishing to gain access at the gate and allow or deny them entry – directly on their radio handset.

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