At a time when keywords such as ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and ‘digital transformation’ are being talked about frequently, many companies are unsure of the steps they need to take on this new road. This is especially the case amongst businesses that have hazardous areas and are under increasing pressure to improve operational efficiency without compromising safety.
One application that can provide a direct benefit is called Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC or PTToC). With the latest products, 4G / LTE-capable Atex Android smartphone Smart-Ex® 01, the world´s first Zone 1 / 21 and Division 1 certified tablet Tab-Ex® 01 and the intrinsically safe feature phone Ex-Handy 09, ecom enables a variety of well tested and partnered PoC applications for use in hazardous areas for the very first time. PTToC provides several key real-use benefits to companies and workers in hazardous work environments around the world.
- Secure and fast communications at any time, in any place
Push-to-Talk applications support group calls, messages, individual calls and a lot more features. However, traditionally conducted over Land Mobile Radio (LMR) networks, the instant walkie talkie-style communication is limited to a specific area. As wireless technologies such as LTE, WLAN, and WWAN become more and more available in hazardous areas, Push-to-Talk over Cellular is gaining momentum as a cost-effective and feature-rich alternative to existing Land Mobile Radio installations. This is particularly true within hazardous areas where instant one-to-one, one-to-many communication and their backend systems are essential for employee productivity, safety and operational efficiency.
By standard the Smart-Ex® 01 and Tab-Ex® 01 are equipped with the latest wireless communications technologies. They enable the usage of PTT over LTE and WiFi networks, which means expansive coverage in every area and situation, much lower network latency, excellent data transmission rates and the best speech quality. The ecom mobile devices can also be interconnected with existing radio infrastructure such as LMR, Tetra or DMR.
- Reduced costs and increased productivity
With Push-to-Talk over Cellular mobile workers can now carry only one device, while earlier they had to carry two – their explosion-proof mobile device and i.e. a handheld radio. Communication via PTT over an existing radio infrastructure will still be possible. An All-in-One solution not only reduces businesses’ hardware costs but also increases the efficiency and productivity of workers in the field. The Tab-Ex® 01, leveraging Samsung’s know-how, and the Smart-Ex® 01 for example can support multiple mobile worker roles performing a range of applications, including Asset Surveys, Material Tracking, Operator Rounds, Inspection and Maintenance. Thus, providing a PTT capable mobile device for virtually any type of worker and work in potentially dangerous environments, and at a fraction of the cost when compared to LMR and certified handheld radios for use in hazardous areas.
Companies can now arm their workers with mobile devices that are not only built to withstand occupational hazards but also provide a dedicated side button for one-touch access to PTT services, such as the yellow PTT button and the red emergency button on the Tab-Ex® 01, Smart-Ex® 01 and Ex-Handy 09.
- Providing more functionality to the user
PTT over Cellular extends communications beyond the single function of voice to include data, video and connectivity with backend systems. By giving each user the full complement of PTT accessories like intrinsically safe hearing protection headsets for a clear connection and a mobile device to capture information, the quality and accuracy of data can be significantly improved. Optional built-in rear and front cameras for the Smart-Ex® 01 and Tab-Ex® 01 allow equipment defects to be captured at the point of inspection or while maintenance work is executed. Analysts can interpret the data in real-time and they can then make immediate decisions on whether an asset or a process needs to be adjusted.
This has huge benefits for businesses as it means more information can be made immediately available, avoiding the need for a specialist to visit the site or offshore platform in person. PTT over Cellular simplifies, modernizes and accelerates communication and collaboration between mobile workers, experts at the control center and backend systems – giving companies a much greater insight into their operations and the way they carry out work.
- Improving the overall safety of operations
The less time workers need to spend offshore on a rig or on a plant, the less they are exposed to hazardous areas, where dust, flammable vapors, mists and gases potentially exist. With PoC applications it is now possible to notify team leaders in real-time about plant changes and abnormalities, providing real-time information and support while working in remote locations.
Having a device that is capable of transmitting GPS data via PTT also provides a huge upgrade for workforce safety. It puts mobile workers’ mind at piece, because they know in case of an accident they can be located and retrieved the fastest way possible via Lone Worker Protection (LWP). This significantly reduces the workers exposure to risks, improving the overall safety of operations.
- Enhanced security & Enterprise Mobility Management
PTT devices can be highly customized, making it possible to set up devices so that the employee only has access to the applications he needs for his work tasks and is legitimized to use. This ensures the integrity of the companies’ data environment and simplifies the user experience.
Furthermore, to ensure the current safety standards, it is advisable to work with the latest operating system. As mobile devices using the Android™ operating system are introduced to potentially dangerous work environments, professional Push-to-Talk solutions can now be employed in hazardous areas, using E2E encryption for secure data transfer and system access.