Lumber Mill Adds Wireless Alert System
Pete Carter, technical manager at the Roseburg Forest Products softwood plywood mill in Coquille, Oregon was faced with not only improving safety for employees, but also protecting the huge 700,000 square foot physical plant from the dangerous effects of fire. This task was becoming more and more challenging as a frail, inadequate alerting system was quickly degrading.
The existing system of four strategically located and hard-wired emergency alert buttons were tied in series, meaning if one failed, they all failed. “If one of these alert buttons went down, then the whole system was down, requiring from a few hours to a few weeks to implement a fix,” noted Pete. “I had one button to send a message to our radioequipped personnel indicating an injury had taken place, and another button to press in case of a fire, so you can see that these were critical to the safety of our operation,” he added.
Pete needed not only an alerting system that was reliable, but he also needed to multiply the number of call button stations to cover the immense square footage more adequately.
Pete’s supplier of radio-based products is Day Wireless based in Milwaukie, Oregon. It was suggested that Pete contact the radio technology manufacturer Ritron for engineering expertise to help provide a solution. The engineering staff listened to Pete’s requirement regarding emergency and non-emergency needs around the plant (like “need an electrician” or “machine down”) and suggested a creative solution.
Ritron presented Pete with a virtually off-the-shelf solution that, based on a change in switch condition, will broadcast pre-recorded custom messages to a radio network. Four inputs for switches or sensors are available, so in this case, when a button is pressed a custom, pre-recorded voice message is transmitted along with location information to all radio-equipped personnel.
Virtually any sensor input can be accomodated, and Pete realized its usefulness for emergency call buttons for use inside his plant. And, with its affordability, Pete could increase the number of emergency call stations throughout the plant.
This inspired Pete to develop a panel equipped with four call buttons, which he then wired to the Ritron QuickTalk™ voice alerting transmitter inputs. One input is used to call for an electrician, one for a millwright, one indicates “man down” for an injury, and one button is to alert for fire.
Pete built 25 separate call alerting stations, equipped with his panel of buttons connected to a QuickTalk transmitter. When one of the four alert buttons is pressed, the transmitter sends a clear, specific recorded message to radio-equipped personnel along with the exact location of the originating call station.
According to Pete, "Employees are finding that summoning for help is easy and clear. Prior to this solution, we were using hand held radios in the loud environment, which is a problem.”
The recorded message has no background noise, so the transmission is clear and easy to understand.
Response times have been drastically improved due to the efficiency of the new system. Frustration with the legacy system has been eliminated, since each call station and QuickTalk transmitter is independent.
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